Tyranny is the abuse of absolute power, legal or usurped, and implies oppression. Despotism, in its earlier and still frequent meaning, does not necessarily imply either regard or disregard for the welfare of the subject; but there is also a tendency to give it essentially the same meaning as tyranny, using absolutism or autocracy where an unfavorable meaning is not intended. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
c. 1200, deliveren, "save, rescue, set free, liberate," from Old French delivrer "to set free; remove; save, preserve; hand over (goods)," also used of childbirth, from Late Latin deliberare, from de "away" (see de-) + Latin liberare "to free," from liber "free, unrestricted, unimpeded" (see liberal (adj.)).
The sense of "to bring (a woman) to childbirth," in English is from c. 1300. Sense of "hand over, give, give up, yield" is from c. 1300 in English, which is in opposition to its etymological sense. Meaning "to project, cast, strike, throw" is from c. 1400. Related: Delivered; delivering.
late 14c., "unrestricted, free from limitation; complete, perfect, free from imperfection;" also "not relative to something else" (mid-15c.), from Latin absolutus, past participle of absolvere "to set free, acquit; complete, bring to an end; make separate," from ab "off, away from" (see ab-) + solvere "to loosen, untie, release, detach," from PIE *se-lu-, from reflexive pronoun *s(w)e- (see idiom) + root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart."
Sense evolution probably was from "detached, disengaged" to "perfect, pure." Meaning "despotic" (1610s) is from notion of "absolute in position;" absolute monarchy is recorded from 1735 (absolute king is recorded from 1610s). Grammatical sense is from late 14c.
Absolute magnitude (1902) is the brightness a star would have at a distance of 10 parsecs (or 32.6 light years); scientific absolute value is from 1907. As a noun in metaphysics, the absolute "that which is unconditional or free from restriction; the non-relative" is from 1809.
c. 1300, "giving light, shining, luminous;" also "not turbid; transparent, allowing light to pass through; free from impurities; morally pure, guiltless, innocent;" of colors, "bright, pure;" of weather or the sky or sea, "not stormy; mild, fair, not overcast, fully light, free from darkness or clouds;" of the eyes or vision, "clear, keen;" of the voice or sound, "plainly audible, distinct, resonant;" of the mind, "keen-witted, perspicacious;" of words or speech, "readily understood, manifest to the mind, lucid" (an Old English word for this was sweotol "distinct, clear, evident"); of land, "cleared, leveled;" from Old French cler "clear" (of sight and hearing), "light, bright, shining; sparse" (12c., Modern French clair), from Latin clarus "clear, loud," of sounds; figuratively "manifest, plain, evident," in transferred use, of sights, "bright, distinct;" also "illustrious, famous, glorious" (source of Italian chiaro, Spanish claro), from PIE *kle-ro-, from root *kele- (2) "to shout."
The prehistoric sense evolution to light and color involves an identification of the spreading of sound and the spreading of light (compare English loud, used of colors; German hell "clear, bright, shining," of pitch, "distinct, ringing, high").
Also in Middle English "beautiful, magnificent, excellent" (c. 1300); of possession or title, "unrestricted, unconditional, absolute," early 15c. Of complexion, from c. 1300. Sense of "free from encumbrance," later largely nautical, developed c. 1500. Meaning "obvious to the senses" is from 1835. Clear-sighted is from 1580s (clear-eyed is from 1520s); clear-headed is from 1709. For coast is clear see clear (v.).
late 14c., "to give up (something) absolutely, relinquish control, give over utterly;" also reflexively, "surrender (oneself), yield (oneself) utterly" (to religion, fornication, etc.), from Old French abandonner "surrender, release; give freely, permit," also reflexive, "devote (oneself)" (12c.).
The Old French word was formed from the adverbial phrase à bandon "at will, at discretion," from à "at, to" (from Latin ad; see ad-) + bandon "power, jurisdiction," from Latin bannum, "proclamation," which is from a Frankish or other Germanic word, from Proto-Germanic *bannan- "proclaim, summon, outlaw" (things all done by proclamation); see ban (v.).
Mettre sa forest à bandon was a feudal law phrase in the 13th cent. = mettre sa forêt à permission, i.e. to open it freely to any one for pasture or to cut wood in; hence the later sense of giving up one's rights for a time, letting go, leaving, abandoning. [Auguste Brachet, "An Etymological Dictionary of the French Language," transl. G.W. Kitchin, Oxford, 1878]
Meaning "to leave, desert, forsake (someone or something) in need" is from late 15c. Related: Abandoned; abandoning.
Etymologically, the word carries a sense of "put (something) under someone else's control," and the earliest appearance of the word in English is as an adverb (mid-13c.) with the sense "under (one's) control," hence also "unrestricted."
Again, as that which is placed at the absolute command of one party must by the same act be entirely given up by the original possessor, it was an easy step from the sense of conferring the command of a thing upon some particular person to that of renouncing all claim to authority over the subject matter, without particular reference to the party into whose hands it might come ; and thus in modern times the word has come to be used almost exclusively in the sense renunciation or desertion. [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859]
mid-14c., "generous," also "nobly born, noble, free;" from late 14c. as "selfless, magnanimous, admirable;" from early 15c. in a bad sense, "extravagant, unrestrained," from Old French liberal "befitting free people; noble, generous; willing, zealous" (12c.), and directly from Latin liberalis "noble, gracious, munificent, generous," literally "of freedom, pertaining to or befitting a free person," from liber "free, unrestricted, unimpeded; unbridled, unchecked, licentious."
This is conjectured to be from PIE *leudh-ero-, which probably originally meant "belonging to the people," though the precise semantic development is obscure; but compare frank (adj.). This was a suffixed form of the base *leudh- (2) "people" (source also of Old Church Slavonic ljudu, Lithuanian liaudis, Old English leod, German Leute "nation, people;" Old High German liut "person, people").
Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
Confess'd the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.
["Much Ado," IV.1.93]
Liberal was used 16c.-17c. as a term of reproach with the meaning "free from restraint in speech or action." The Enlightenment revived it in a positive sense "free from prejudice, tolerant, not bigoted or narrow," which emerged 1776-88. In 19c. often theological rather than political, opposed to orthodox, used of Unitarians, Universalists, etc. For educational use, see liberal arts.
Purely in reference to political opinion, "tending in favor of freedom and democracy," it dates from c. 1801, from French libéral. In English the label at first was applied by opponents (often in the French form and with suggestions of foreign lawlessness) to the party more favorable to individual political freedoms. But also (especially in U.S. politics) tending to mean "favorable to government action to effect social change," which seems at times to draw more from the religious sense of "free from prejudice in favor of traditional opinions and established institutions" (and thus open to new ideas and plans of reform), which dates from 1823.
This is the attitude of mind which has come to be known as liberal. It implies vigorous convictions, tolerance for the opinions of others, and a persistent desire for sound progress. It is a method of approach which has played a notable and constructive part in our history, and which merits a thorough trial today in the attack on our absorbingly interesting American task. [Guy Emerson, "The New Frontier," 1920]