at liberty


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lib·er·ty

 (lĭb′ər-tē)
n. pl. lib·er·ties
1. The condition of being free from confinement, servitude, or forced labor.
2.
a. The condition of being free from oppressive restriction or control by a government or other power.
b. A right to engage in certain actions without control or interference by a government or other power: the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights.
3. The right or power to act as one chooses: "Her upcountry isolation ... gave her the liberty to be what she wanted to be, free of the pressure of spotlights and literary fashions" (Lucinda Franks).
4. often liberties A deliberate departure from what is proper, accepted, or prudent, especially:
a. A breach or overstepping of propriety or social convention: "I'd leave her with a little kiss on the cheek—I never took liberties" (Harold Pinter).
b. A departure from strict compliance: took several liberties with the recipe.
c. A deviation from accepted truth or known fact: a historical novel that takes liberties with chronology.
d. An unwarranted risk; a chance: took foolish liberties on the ski slopes.
5. A period, usually short, during which a sailor is authorized to go ashore.
Idioms:
at liberty
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.

[Middle English liberte, from Old French, from Latin lībertās, from līber, free; see leudh- in Indo-European roots.]
References in classic literature ?
The foolish animal no sooner perceived itself at liberty, than forgetting all the favours it had received from Sophia, it flew directly from her, and perched on a bough at some distance.
But, though the Doctor tried hard, and never ceased trying, to get Charles Darnay set at liberty, or at least to get him brought to trial, the public current of the time set too strong and fast for him.
As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.