1 disparaging : a freethinker especially in religious matters
2 : a person who is unrestrained by convention or morality; specifically : one leading a dissolute life
Did You Know?
“I only ask to be free,” says Mr. Skimpole in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, and his words would undoubtedly have appealed to the world’s first libertines. The word libertinus was used in early writings of Roman antiquity to describe a slave who had been set free (the Roman term for an emancipated slave was the Latin libertus). The “freedman” sense of libertine was extended to freethinkers, both religious and secular, and later came to imply that an individual was a little too unrestrained, especially in moral situations. The Latin root of libertine is liber, the ultimate source of our word liberty.
“Thus am I crushed between the upper millstone of the Mr Redford, who thinks me a libertine, and the nether popular critic, who thinks me a prude.” — George Bernard Shaw, Mrs Warren’s Profession, 1902
“Surprisingly, Grey hated the portrait, which she felt was unflattering. One wonders how she would have felt about being paired with Pitt, who had a reputation for being a libertine and a cruel husband.” — Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 30 Aug. 2020