Definition of libertine in US English:



  • 1A person, especially a man, who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, especially in sexual matters.

    • ‘The tradition-bound father is reserved and tyrannical at home, but when he is away from home at night, he is a libertine - drinking and womanizing.’
    • ‘So when did he discover his penchant for playing bad boys and dangerous libertines?’
    • ‘The principal character is a delinquent libertine, Don Juan, who has killed Don Gonzalo, a military commander, in an unequal duel.’
    • ‘They are libertines, people who have gone with the contemporary cultural flow of destroying moral rules and boundaries.’
    • ‘A libertine is a hedonist, a devotee of personal pleasure, whereas a libertarian is one who defends the libertine and his lifestyle against the heavy hand of government.’
    • ‘Her newly found manuscript shows that she thought he was a libertine who had set out to seduce her.’
    • ‘Shelley, who knew him almost as well as anyone, believed that Byron was never a revolutionary so much as a libertine.’
    • ‘The libertine appeared to have finally turned his back on man.’
    • ‘Will the aging boomer libertines and the sexual moralists in the party be able to get along?’
    • ‘Post-moral tradition-hating libertines might do well to pause in the midst of their celebrations to consider this.’
    • ‘Second, to be libertarian is not necessarily to be a libertine.’
    philanderer, ladies' man, playboy, rake, roué, loose-liver, don juan, lothario, casanova, romeo
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  • 2A person who rejects accepted opinions in matters of religion; a freethinker.

    • ‘He championed victims of injustice and the public came to view him not as an impudent libertine but as a patriarch and a sage.’
    • ‘Some libertines started claiming to have pacts with Satan, while still others said the devil himself presided over the soirées.’
    • ‘In the 1630s as well as the 1670s, Boston was inhabited by libertines as well as orthodox Puritans, but in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, town leaders feared that they were losing control.’
    • ‘Gabriel comes across as a libertine and something of anarchist.’
    • ‘Certainly she is a very rigorous, not to say humourless, libertine.’
    • ‘The same goes for gnostic Christianity, where we had the strict ascetics on the one hand and the extreme libertines on the other.’


  • 1Characterized by a disregard of morality, especially in sexual matters.

    ‘his more libertine impulses’
    • ‘We'll all pretend to be duly chastised by our libertine ways and pay obeisance to those good heartland values that neither they nor we actually live by.’
    • ‘In the libertine Utopia of ‘sexual freedom,’ women and children will suffer the most.’
    • ‘The prince had become foolhardy and libertine.’
    • ‘Tourism is associated in the minds of many ordinary Egyptians with a libertine lifestyle offensive to the puritanism of Muslim piety.’
    • ‘My friend graduated from photography school in New York, and, like many artists, plunged into a libertine lifestyle with more than a little enthusiasm.’
    • ‘The fear is that conservative groups could use a clause in the Bill which limits the kind of sexual information that can be given to minors to wage war on the magazines' libertine approach to under-age sex.’
    • ‘One entry examined Lord Byron, whose libertine life and poetic license Porter clearly admired.’
    • ‘She's pretty, clean, and libertine - everything you could ever want in a French woman.’
    • ‘Indeed, the health consequences of the libertine life-style are, when compared with the consequences of smoking, truly disastrous.’
    licentious, lustful, libidinous, lecherous, lascivious, lubricious, dissolute, dissipated, debauched, immoral, wanton, shameless, degenerate, depraved, debased, profligate, promiscuous, unchaste, lewd, prurient, salacious, indecent, immodest, impure, carnal, intemperate, abandoned, unrestrained, unprincipled, reprobate
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  • 2Freethinking in matters of religion.

    • ‘I simply take this logic to its conclusion and point out that this woman's wanton and libertine approach to grace is the camel's nose under the tent.’
    • ‘For so long, many religious conservatives have fought for laws to be passed in the face of a culture that was very libertine and pro-choice.’


Late Middle English (denoting a freed slave or the son of one): from Latin libertinus ‘freedman’, from liber ‘free’. In the mid 16th century, imitating French libertin, the term denoted a member of any of various antinomian sects in France; hence libertine (sense 2 of the noun).