Liberal is a political term that has a number of meanings, depending on context.
- Europeans typically use the term to describe politics that draw on classical liberalism's basic touchstone of the free individual operating in a free market economy, a notion similar to modern libertarianism.
- In the United States, however, the word is typically used to describe politics on the left side of the political spectrum, and has been used by the GOP as a synonym for socialist. This is partially due to their use of bullshit scare tactics and partially a legacy from the second Red Scare, when some people with communist sympathies, not wanting to state their affiliation openly, called themselves "liberals" or "progressives" instead. The term "liberal" is used rather... liberally in the US, but most American liberals are advocates of "social liberalism," a centre-to-centre left political philosophy, though it may also refer to advocates of the Third Way (If slightly to the right of social liberals) or social democracy (If slightly to their left) on economics.
When talking about social issues, "liberal" is usually applied to people who favor fewer restrictions on the individual's right to choose how to live her or his life. Thus liberals tend to support such things as gay marriage and reproductive freedoms, such as abortion and birth control. Such positions are seen as pure evil by the American religious right and its counterparts overseas; these groups work tirelessly to depict liberals as Satanic monsters, and to make the very word "liberal" into an insult.
 See also
- Conservative, the traditional antonym
- Age of Enlightenment, what created it
- Liberal Party, the various parties explicitly using the name
- Democratic Party, the US party labeled "liberal" since the 20th century and onward
- Combat Liberalism, a 1937 pamphlet published by Mao Tse-Tung
- Neoliberalism, something liberals in the US sense seem not to like very much
- Ordoliberalism, a slightly buffered version of social democracy
- Really embarrassing liberals