liberal arts definition by Webster's New World
- Historical the subjects in the trivium and quadrivium
- the subjects of an academic college course, including literature, philosophy, languages, history, and, usually, survey courses of the sciences, as distinguished from professional or technical subjects: sometimes referred to as arts, as in Bachelor of Arts
Origin: translated, translation of Classical Latin artes liberales, literally , arts befitting a freeman: so named in contrast to artes serviles, lower (lit., servile) arts, and because open to study only by freemen (L liberi); in later use understood as “arts becoming a gentleman”
liberal arts definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- Academic disciplines, such as languages, literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, and science, that provide information of general cultural concern: “The term ‘liberal arts’ connotes a certain elevation above utilitarian concerns. Yet liberal education is intensely useful” (George F. Will).
- The disciplines comprising the trivium and quadrivium.
Origin: Middle English, translation of Medieval Latin artēs liberālēs, the trivium and quadrivium : Latin artēs, pl. of Latin ars, art-, subject of study + līberālēs, pl. of līberālis, proper to free persons.
liberal arts - Cultural Definition
The areas of learning that cultivate general intellectual ability rather than technical or professional skills. Liberal arts is often used as a synonym for humanities, because literature, languages, history, and philosophy are often considered the primary subjects of the liberal arts. The term liberal arts originally meant arts suitable for free people (libri in Latin) but not for slaves.
The areas of learning that cultivate general intellectual ability rather than technical or professional skills. The term liberal arts is often used as a synonym for humanities, although the liberal arts also include the sciences. The word liberal comes from the Latin liberalis, meaning suitable for a free man, as opposed to a slave.