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Definition opposed to personal liberty in society — such as not wanting to let people say or do unpopular things

More rarely, illiberal can mean "not generous". At one time, it could also mean lacking a liberal arts education or unrefined.
  • Nobody doubts it; and I hope you do not think I am so illiberal as to want every man to have the same objects and pleasures as myself.
    Jane Austen  --  Persuasion
  • For all his ardent reading, and his ardent life, was he anything but a small-town youth bred on an illiberal farm and in cheap tailor shops?
    Sinclair Lewis  --  Main Street
  • But thus it often is, that the constant friction of illiberal minds wears out at last the best resolves of the more generous.
    Herman Melville  --  Bartleby, the Scrivener: a Story of Wall Street
  • Those who can barely live, and who live perforce in a very small, and generally very inferior, society, may well be illiberal and cross.
    Jane Austen  --  Emma
  • Their tendency is gross and illiberal; and if their construction could ever be deemed clever, time has long ago destroyed all its ingenuity.
    Jane Austen  --  Sense and Sensibility
  • Within an ace of being Count was he, And would have been but for the spite and gall Of this vile age, mean and illiberal, That cannot even let a donkey be.
    Miguel de Cervantes  --  Don Quixote
  • It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust.
    Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, & John Jay  --  The Federalist Papers
  • Jimmy Gizzi had undone his pants and begun lazily stroking himself, and Sunny began laughing at him, first in chortles and then maniacally, in a dusky tone that seemed as illiberal and vile as what he was compelling on himself.
    Chang-rae Lee  --  A Gesture Life
  • Her father, captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her.
    Jane Austen  --  Pride and Prejudice
  • Ralph Touchett, in talk with his excellent friend, had rather markedly qualified, as we know, his recognition of Gilbert Osmond's personal merits; but he might really have felt himself illiberal in the light of that gentleman's conduct during the rest of the visit to Rome.
    Henry James  --  The Portrait of a Lady - Volumes 1 & 2
  • CHAPTER XXIX Ralph Touchett, in talk with his excellent friend, had rather markedly qualified, as we know, his recognition of Gilbert Osmond's personal merits; but he might really have felt himself illiberal in the light of that gentleman's conduct during the rest of the visit to Rome.
    Henry James  --  The Portrait of a Lady - Volume 2
  • It had led her to seek the society of her mother's class; and that class simply would not have her, because she was much poorer than the greengrocer, and, far from being able to afford a maid, could not afford even a housemaid, and had to scrape along at home with an illiberally treated general servant.
    George Bernard Shaw  --  Pygmalion
  • He respected Sanglier as a brave warrior; and he had far too much of that liberality which is the result of practical knowledge to believe half of what he had heard to his prejudice, for the most bigoted and illiberal on every subject are usually those who know nothing about it; but he could not approve of his selfishness, cold-blooded calculations, and least of all of the manner in which he forgot his "white gifts," to adopt those that were purely "red."
    James Fenimore Cooper  --  The Pathfinder
  • Hendon wished to guard against over-fatiguing the boy; he judged that hard journeys, irregular meals, and illiberal measures of sleep would be bad for his crazed mind; whilst rest, regularity, and moderate exercise would be pretty sure to hasten its cure; he longed to see the stricken intellect made well again and its diseased visions driven out of the tormented little head; therefore he resolved to move by easy stages toward the home whence he had so long been banished, instead of...
    Mark Twain  --  The Prince and The Pauper
  • ...commencement, when he threatened to withhold our diplomas if we didn't stop our uproar; he must have known then that he had lost .... because Dan Needham and Mr. Early, and a solid one third or one half of the faculty stood up to applaud our riotous support of Owen; and we were joined by several informed members of the Board of Trustees as well, not to mention all those parents who had written angry letters to the headmaster regarding that illiberal business of confiscating our wallets.
    John Irving  --  A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • In such a case, a plain and open avowal of his difficulties would have been more to his honour I think, as well as more consistent with his general character;—but I will not raise objections against any one's conduct on so illiberal a foundation, as a difference in judgment from myself, or a deviation from what I may think right and consistent."
    Jane Austen  --  Sense and Sensibility

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