liberty(redirected from liberties)
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Related to liberties: civil liberties, take liberties
Give me liberty, or give me death!
A set phrase indicating stark and unyielding refusal to submit to authoritarian measures or domination. The phrase is attributed to American politician Patrick Henry (1736–1799) from a speech he made to the Virginia Convention in 1775, calling for Virginian troops to assist in the Revolutionary War. Any number of alternative nouns can be used in place of "liberty" as a means of humorously or hyperbolically highlighting one's extreme reluctance to part with it. The government thinks it can censor our media, monitor our communications, and tax us to starvation without us putting up a fight. Well, I say to them, give me liberty, or give me death! Give me bacon or give me death!
See also: give
take the liberty to do (something)
To do something without first seeking out or asking for someone's permission. I took the liberty to print out some financial reports ahead of today's meeting. I hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty to tell your husband you'd be late for dinner.
Freely able to do something. I know you're curious about the case, but I'm not at liberty to talk about it.
free; unrestrained. The criminal was set at liberty by the judge. You're at liberty to go anywhere you wish. I'm not at liberty to discuss the matter.
take liberties with someone or somethingand make free with someone or something
to freely use or abuse someone or something. You are overly familiar with me, Mr. Jones. One might think you were taking liberties with me. I don't like it when you make free with my lawn mower. You should at least ask when you want to borrow it.
take the liberty of doing something
to do something for someone voluntarily; to do something slightly personal for someone that would be more appropriate if one knew the person better. (Often used as an overly polite exaggeration in a request.) Do you mind if I take the liberty of flicking a bit of lint off your collar? May I take the liberty of removing your coat? I took the liberty of ordering an entree for you. I hope you don't mind.
take liberties (with somebody)
to be friendly with another person for your own benefit The head of our department believed that everyone there would take liberties with her if she let them.
take liberties with something
to change something to suit your needs, esp. when writing a story or book The play takes liberties with history, but it brings to life the people from so long ago.
able or allowed to do something I'm not at liberty to discuss this with you.
Usage notes: often used in a negative statement, as in the example
take the liberty of doing something
to do something without first getting someone's approval I've taken the liberty of reserving a seat for you on tomorrow morning's flight to New York.
1. to change something, especially a piece of writing, in a way that people disagree with (usually + with ) Whoever wrote the screenplay for the film took great liberties with the original text of the novel.
2. (old-fashioned) to be too friendly to someone in a way that shows a lack of respect, especially in a sexual way (often + with ) Don't let him take liberties with you.
take the liberty of doing something(formal)
to do something that will have an effect on someone else without asking their permission (usually in past tenses) I took the liberty of reserving us two seats at the conference. I hope that's all right by you.
Free, not obligated; also, not occupied. For example, I am not at liberty to tell you the whole story, or " I ... washed when there was a basin at liberty" (Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847). This idiom is often used in a negative context, as in the first example. [First half of 1800s]
1. Behave improperly or disrespectfully; also, make unwanted sexual advances. For example, He doesn't allow staff members to take liberties, such as calling clients by their first names , or She decided that if Jack tried to take liberties with her she would go straight home. This idiom uses liberties in the sense of "an overstepping of propriety," and thus differs markedly from take the liberty of. [c. 1700]
2. Make a statement or take an action not warranted by the facts or circumstances, as in Their book takes liberties with the historical record.
take the liberty of
Act on one's own authority without permission from another, as in I took the liberty of forwarding the mail to his summer address. It is also put as take the liberty to, as in He took the liberty to address the Governor by her first name. This rather formal locution was first recorded in 1625 and does not imply the opprobrium of the similar-sounding take liberties.
1. Not in confinement or under constraint; free.
2. Entitled or permitted to do something: We found ourselves at liberty to explore the grounds.
take the liberty
To dare (to do something) on one's own initiative or without asking permission: I took the liberty to send you these pictures of my vacation.