Definition of liberal arts in US English:

liberal arts

plural noun

North American
  • 1Academic subjects such as literature, philosophy, mathematics, and social and physical sciences as distinct from professional and technical subjects.

    • ‘In most cases, this core included specified courses, or credit hours, in liberal arts and science fields, or both.’
    • ‘In some aspects, colleges of agriculture are beginning to look more like colleges of liberal arts and sciences.’
    • ‘Those students were excluded from Newcomb College, which only included women in the liberal arts and sciences.’
    • ‘For instance, professors in fields like computer science could receive more generous pay hikes than those in liberal arts.’
    • ‘The school is evaluated on the basis of its commitment to liberal arts and science education.’
    • ‘Most of those working in the media have backgrounds in the liberal arts, not the sciences, so the case for maths and numeracy is often worse than poorly put - it is not put at all.’
    • ‘Through the establishment of courses in humanities, management and economics, we expect to permeate liberal arts into the sciences.’
    • ‘If he had been a man of the left, he would be teaching that subject at some small liberal arts college for $70,000 a year.’
    • ‘Education during most of the 20th century divided, all too neatly, between liberal arts and the sciences.’
    • ‘The only liberal arts that are growing are psychology and the biological sciences.’
    • ‘The first five cover science and application, and the second five cover liberal arts, and career and personal development.’
    • ‘Like the liberal arts, the sciences are increasingly engaged with a technical rather than a philosophical approach to their subjects.’
    • ‘Students also will study mathematics, science, liberal arts and the humanities as part of the curriculum.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, Slovak parents generally advocated practical learning over an education in the sciences or liberal arts.’
    • ‘For the past several decades our dedication to the liberal arts, to learning for its own sake, has been predominant.’
    • ‘He argues that virtually all faculty in the liberal arts are Democrats.’
    • ‘Duncan's conviction is hardly a surprise, given the fact that his own career has melded action and contemplation, science and liberal arts.’
    • ‘Among the most vulnerable programs may be those in the liberal arts, especially the humanities and social sciences.’
    • ‘In the native model, however, the influences of majoring in the liberal arts and health sciences were absent.’
    • ‘For example, it took almost a decade to change the name of the college because of opposition from liberal arts and sciences.’
    written works, writings, writing, creative writing, literary texts, compositions, letters, belles-lettres
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1historical The medieval trivium and quadrivium.
      • ‘These objects represent the seven liberal arts that provided the basis of a Renaissance education.’


Liberal, as distinct from servile or mechanical (i.e. involving manual labor) and originally referring to arts and sciences considered ‘worthy of a free man’; later the word related to general intellectual development rather than vocational training.


liberal arts

/ˈlib(ə)rəl ärts//ˈlɪb(ə)rəl ɑrts/