Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2
#177923 - 07/03/08 09:38 PM diabolical liberty  
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 4
gaius novus Offline
stranger
gaius novus  Offline
stranger

Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 4
I've come across this phrase - "a diabolical liberty" - a few times recently, most notably in a Jeffrey Archer book. I've never heard it before. A Google search comes up with some bands, comics, and movies, all from the UK, which, combined with Archer's use, leads me to believe it's from across the pond.

Am I to assume it's approximately equivalent to "giving someone enough rope to hang himself" or a "double-edged sword"?

Is there any known etymology?

#177925 - 07/03/08 09:49 PM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: gaius novus]  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 10,538
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel
tsuwm  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 10,538
this too shall pass
here's an entry for diabolical from OED2 which you may find to be helpful:

3. slang. In weakened sense: outrageous, disgraceful; disgracefully bad. Also, used as an intensive, esp. in diabolical liberty.
1958 B. BEHAN Borstal Boy III. 231 Why ain't I given a chance to follow my trade in 'ere, eh?..It's a diabolical liberty. Geezers get no chance to follow their trade. 1965 Listener 30 Sept. 507/2 A parody piece..which took diabolical liberties with Eurovision song contests, British Beatlemania and other suitable themes. 1972 MITTON & MORRISON Community Project in Notting Dale 69 The names he called those kids round there was diabolical for any vicar. 1982 S. TOWNSEND Secret Diary A. Mole 94 Asked our postman about communications between Tunisia and England. He said they were ‘diabolical’. 1986 Observer 16 Feb. 50/4 From my point of view that pitch was dangerous. In fact, it was diabolical.

#177928 - 07/04/08 02:52 AM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: gaius novus]  
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 155
morphememedley Offline
member
morphememedley  Offline
member

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 155
I wasn't sure that I'd ever heard or read carnal license, but maybe I had; an exact wording Google search fetched 182 results. Might diabolical liberty and carnal license be alike in meaning, sometimes anyway?

#177935 - 07/04/08 11:14 AM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: morphememedley]  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,295
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel
BranShea  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,295
Netherlands, the Hague
" The peasants mistook spiritual liberty for carnal license."
- Schaff, VII, §75, "The Peasants' War: 1523-1525"

"My opinion is that it is better that all the peasants be killed than that the princes and magistrates perish, because the rustics took the sword without divine authority. The only possible consequence of their satanic wickedness would be the diabolic devastation of the kingdom of God. "
(Letter to Nicholas Amsdorf at Magdeburg, from Wittenberg.)

From here "carnal licence" looks more like "licence to kill".
( 007 again )


#177941 - 07/04/08 02:22 PM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: BranShea]  
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,067
The Pook Offline
old hand
The Pook  Offline
old hand

Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,067
Tasmania
 Originally Posted By: BranShea
" The peasants mistook spiritual liberty for carnal license."
- Schaff, VII, §75, "The Peasants' War: 1523-1525"

"My opinion is that it is better that all the peasants be killed than that the princes and magistrates perish, because the rustics took the sword without divine authority. The only possible consequence of their satanic wickedness would be the diabolic devastation of the kingdom of God. "
(Letter to Nicholas Amsdorf at Magdeburg, from Wittenberg.)

From here "carnal licence" looks more like "licence to kill".
( 007 again )

Both quotes concern Martin Luther's reaction to the peasants' uprising in (from memory, don't quote me on the date) ca 1525. "Carnal license" means giving free reign to 'the flesh' (which means the sinful human nature). The peasants, in Luther's view, were simply venting their uncontrolled hatred and fury in an orgy of violence. Though he didn't recommend either, Luther preferred even Tyranny to Anarchy, since at least in Tyranny the basic infrastructure of society remains intact, and there is less bloodshed. Maybe if Luther was President of the US in 2002 the course of recent history might have been different...

#177943 - 07/04/08 03:08 PM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: The Pook]  
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,773
dalehileman Offline
Pooh-Bah
dalehileman  Offline
Pooh-Bah

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,773
Apple Valley, CA, USA
I wonder if diabolical liberty might be another expression for the tendency of the Neocons to circumscribe our "liberty" with restrictions intended to promote our comfort and safety but which in the long run restrict our freedoms (Luther's 'anarchy'?), tending to the creation of a police state (his 'tyranny'?)

Last edited by dalehileman; 07/04/08 03:10 PM.

dalehileman
#177945 - 07/04/08 04:07 PM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: dalehileman]  
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 876
twosleepy Offline
old hand
twosleepy  Offline
old hand

Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 876
western NY
That's what I thought, more or less, and all the defs flummoxed me! It seemed to be a deliberately oxymoronic phrase, pointing out that while freedom is highly desirable, it also has its "diabolical" drawbacks. :0)

#177952 - 07/04/08 05:13 PM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: twosleepy]  
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,773
dalehileman Offline
Pooh-Bah
dalehileman  Offline
Pooh-Bah

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,773
Apple Valley, CA, USA
Those who wold give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety--Ben Franklin


dalehileman
#177975 - 07/05/08 02:53 AM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: twosleepy]  
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,067
The Pook Offline
old hand
The Pook  Offline
old hand

Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,067
Tasmania
 Originally Posted By: twosleepy
That's what I thought, more or less, and all the defs flummoxed me! It seemed to be a deliberately oxymoronic phrase, pointing out that while freedom is highly desirable, it also has its "diabolical" drawbacks. :0)

I suppose the original (and literally diabolical!)concept of "diabolical liberty" (though not the phrase itself) is that offered by the serpent in Genesis 3. The knowlege of good and evil gained by an autonomous declaration of independence from God comes at the price of suffering the consequences of becoming evil, namely estrangement from God.

#177976 - 07/05/08 02:59 AM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: dalehileman]  
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,067
The Pook Offline
old hand
The Pook  Offline
old hand

Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,067
Tasmania
 Originally Posted By: dalehileman
I wonder if diabolical liberty might be another expression for the tendency of the Neocons to circumscribe our "liberty" with restrictions intended to promote our comfort and safety but which in the long run restrict our freedoms (Luther's 'anarchy'?), tending to the creation of a police state (his 'tyranny'?)

Ironically the Iraq War/"War on Terror" seems to have achieved both simultaneously. In Iraq it has resulted in Anarchy in the name of providing Liberty from Tyranny. And in Western coalition countries it is resulting in a drift towards Tyranny by the erosion of Liberties in the name of protection from the forces of Anarchy. Oh what tangled webs...

Page 1 of 2 1 2

Moderated by  Jackie 

Forum Statistics
Forums16
Topics13,878
Posts223,911
Members9,019
Most Online3,341
Dec 9th, 2011
Newest Members
Rogerdoctor, SquareDonut, WonderW, Trailjohn, Reddit
9019 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
0 registered members (), 60 guests, and 3 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters(30 Days)
Top Posters(All Time)
wwh 13,858
Faldage 13,803
Jackie 11,613
tsuwm 10,538
LukeJavan8 8,974
AnnaStrophic 6,511
Wordwind 6,296
of troy 5,400
Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 1994-2017 Wordsmith

Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.0
Page Time: 0.016s Queries: 15 (0.003s) Memory: 2.7275 MB (Peak: 2.8702 MB) Zlib disabled. Server Time: 2017-09-21 03:31:28 UTC