'Liberal' vs 'Democrat': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on October 6, 2023

If you are confused about the difference between 'liberal' vs. 'democrat,' you came to the right place.

Here is the short answer: 

  • A 'democrat' is a member of the Democratic party. 
  • The Democratic Party has been considered 'liberal' since the 1960s
  • Therefore, a 'democrat' and 'liberal' can mean the same thing. 

However, there is more to the story than that, and you may hear people say that they are a Democrat, but they are not 'liberal.' So, stick around to find out more about the meanings of these terms and how to use them correctly.

What is the Difference Between 'Liberal' vs. 'Democrat'

To understand the difference between 'liberal' vs. 'democrat' you need to understand that the term 'democrat' refers to one of two political parties in the United States. The other party is the Republican Party.

As of the 1960s, members of the Republican Party have been conservative, and Democratic party members have been 'liberal.' Therefore, many use the terms 'democrat' and 'liberal' interchangeably.

However, political parties are not as clear-cut as they used to be, and there are people who vote for 'democrats' but do not necessarily consider themselves 'liberals.'

Furthermore, there are different types of 'democrats.' Here is a list of the different types of 'Democrats' from least to most 'liberal':

  • Conservative Democrats
  • Moderate Democrats
  • Liberal Democrats
  • Center-Liberal Democrats
  • Far-Left Liberal Democrats

The more 'liberal' someone is, the more accepting they are of new ideas or ideas that depart from tradition or past norms.

Definition of 'Liberal': What Does 'Liberal' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'liberal' as an adjective that means:

  • Relating to, of, or based on liberal arts

It can also mean:

  • Marked by openhandedness or generosity
  • Given in an openhanded or generous manner
  • Full or complete
  • Licentious or without moral constraint
  • Loose or without restriction
  • Broad-minded or unbound by tradition, orthodoxy, or authoritarianism
  • Of, based, or favoring liberalism
  • Of or creating a political party that advocates for or has a connection to the principles of political liberalism
  • A political party in the United Kingdom that is associated with constitutional, administrative, and political reforms, economic freedom, and greater individual participation in government

'Liberal' can also be a noun that means:

  • A liberal-minded person
  • Someone who does not closely follow orthodoxy, tradition, or the establishment
  • A supporter or member of a liberal political party
  • Someone who advocates for or adheres to liberalism

Synonyms and Similar Terms to 'Liberal'

  • Unconventional
  • Modern
  • Radical
  • Progressive
  • Tolerant
  • Advanced
  • Impartial
  • Extreme
  • Permissive
  • Nonorthodox
  • Indulgent
  • Lenient
  • Generous
  • Giving
  • Bountiful
  • Wealthy
  • Excess
  • Rich
  • Ample
  • Abundant
  • Fertile
  • Prolific
  • Plenteous
  • Philanthropic
  • Humanitarian
  • Benevolent
  • Free

Definition of 'Democrat': What Does 'Democrat' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'democrat' as a noun that means:

  • Someone who adheres to democracy

It can also mean:

  • Someone who is interested in or practices social equality
  • A member of the Democratic Party

Synonyms and Similar Terms to 'Democrat'

  • Populist
  • Leveller
  • Socialist
  • Social Democrat
  • Egalitarian

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Liberal' vs. 'Democrat'

Now, let's look at the pronunciation of 'liberal' vs. 'democrat.' Learning the pronunciation of words is especially important if you plan to use them in conversation or when you are speaking publicly.

However, it also helps you to remember the definition and spelling of terms. So, here is a guide to help you pronounce 'liberal' and 'democrat.'

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'liberal':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'democrat':


When and How to Use 'Liberal' vs. 'Democrat'

You learned the difference between these words, but you might still be questioning when to use each term. So, here are some tips for using 'liberal' vs. 'democrat.'

  • Use 'liberal' if you are describing the amount of something as being plenty or enough.

For example, I might say:

I was starving after all of the shopping we did. So, I was happy she gave me a liberal serving of dinner

  • Use 'liberal' to describe a person who supports liberalism.

As an example, you might hear someone say:

If we are going to in the next election, we need all of the liberals to go out and vote. 

  • Use 'democrat' to describe a member of the Democratic Party.

So, you might say:

Will you vote for my friend in the upcoming election? He is running as a Democratic judge. 

  • Use 'democrat' to differentiate between the two major political parties in the United States.

For example, I might say:

I am a registered Democrat, but I never vote a straight ticket. Instead, I vote for the candidate that I think will do the best job regardless of their political affiliation. 

Sample Sentences Using 'Liberal' vs. 'Democrat'

Next, read these sample sentences using 'liberal' vs. 'democrat.' They will help you commit these terms to memory and learn additional ways to use them.


  • I graduated from college with a degree in Liberal Arts.
  • The head of the school board is very liberal.
  • Republicans from the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability recently met to discuss the weaponization of the legal system against mining, energy, and pharmaceutical companies by liberal groups.
  • I always thought you were conservative. I had no idea you were so liberal!


  • If you ran for a political office, would you run as a Democrat or a Republican?
  • It is interesting that all of the largest cities in the United States vote for Democrats.
  • That means most of the mayors in the top 100 most populated cities in the United States are Democrats.
  • The democratic candidates introduced themselves to people as they walked into the polling center.


  • I am not a liberal, but I voted for a Democratic judge during the last election.
  • Are you a moderate or liberal Democrat?

Review of the Difference Between 'Liberal' vs. 'Democrat'

Finally, you are done with this lesson. So, let's recap what you learned about 'liberal' vs. 'democrat': 

  •  'Liberal' can be a noun or adjective that means someone or something relating to or being connected to liberalism or a liberal political party. 
  • 'Democrat' is a noun that means a member of the Democratic party. 
  • In the United States, the Democratic Party is liberal. Therefore many people use the terms 'democrat' and 'liberal' interchangeably. 

If you are curious about the meanings of other words like these, check out the confusing words section here before you go. You will fund hundreds of guides like this one that explain the difference between terms with definitions and examples.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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