Could anyone answer the question I have entered in the title section of the post?

I mean that 'freedom' is a complex word. The adjective 'free' according to a dictionary means 'not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes', whereas the 'dom' perhaps means 'domein'--'an area of territory owned or controlled by a ruler or government.' Thus, for example, historically, 'freedom' could bear a social meaning, suggesting a territory where a person becomes free from governance he sees as injustice, unfair etc (in the medieval France such territories were cities). Generally, I think that the historically original meaning of a word still resonates with its modern usage, and in this sense, it is still present in the modern usage as well.

So, I would ask especially native speakers, is the presence of such meaning somehow traceable in the modern usage of the word freedom?

Next, the above 'analysis' is still an assumption; the restoration of an original meaning seems a work much harder than merely looking words up in dictionaries for their modern usage.

Then, perhaps someone suggests an idea on that matter or some acknowledged analysis of the etymology of the word, if any?

I also noticed in 'similar questions' "Liberty" versus "freedom", but it is on a slightly different matter.

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    etymonline.com/word/freedom Dec 13, 2017 at 12:14
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    As a native speaker, to me 'freedom' doesn't stand in contrast to eg 'kingdom' in representing a* territory* where one is free from extremes of governance, but in contrast to eg 'serfdom' indicating a state or condition where one is free from it.
    – Spagirl
    Dec 13, 2017 at 12:28
  • @Spagirl Accepted. I did want to add to the territory the state and the condition (bracketed) but did not.
    – Giorgi
    Dec 13, 2017 at 12:36
  • Native speakers don’t analyze morphology when using or encountering common words. They’re taken as a symbol, an indivisible unit, a sign pointing to some concept, and the attention is turned to the concept, not the sign. The only time native speakers analyze morphology is when they’re specifically engaged in doing so (eg linguists, etymologists), or sometimes when encountering a new and unfamiliar word. TL;DR one thinks about the “-dom” in freedom or even notices it’s there. They think about the meaning of the word, and concepts attached to it.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 13, 2017 at 12:57
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    @Dan Bron Agreed, but you still can look into the meaning of a word to capture additional meanings like connotations that possibly accompany the modern or basic ones (those one you can find in dictionaries).
    – Giorgi
    Dec 14, 2017 at 12:01

3 Answers 3



abstract suffix of state, from Old English dom "statute, judgment" (see doom (n.)). Already active as a suffix in Old English (as in freodom, wisdom). Cognate with German -tum (Old High German tuom).


Click into the word 'doom', and there's another great explanation:

doom (n.)

Old English dom "law, judgment, condemnation," from Proto-Germanic *domaz (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian dom, Old Norse domr, Old High German tuom, Gothic doms "judgment, decree"), from PIE root *dhe- "to set, place, put, do" (source also of Sanskrit dhaman- "law," Greek themis "law," Lithuanian dome "attention"). A book of laws in Old English was a dombec. Modern sense of "fate, ruin, destruction" is c. 1600, from the finality of the Christian Judgment Day.

Click on the word 'dhe' and you're able to follow the path backwards again.

*dhē-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to set, put."

... with one description there being, to 'make a mental impression on'.


Im not an expert, but i would consider that the dom in those words: freedom, serfdom, kingdom may be contractions referring to the longer word dominion.

Given that the time period of the origin of the word dominion, it is mostly pertaining to ownership/dominion over a region of land.

dominion (n.) early 15c., from Old French dominion "dominion, rule, power," from Medieval Latin dominionem (nominative dominio), corresponding to Latin dominium "property, ownership," from dominus "lord, master," from domus "house" (from PIE root *dem- "house, household").

British sovereign colonies often were called dominions, hence the Dominion of Canada, the formal title after the 1867 union, and Old Dominion, the popular name for the U.S. state of Virginia, first recorded 1778.


In a kingdom, the king has dominion over the land.

In a serfdom, the serf has no dominion over the land, the lord does.

In a freedom, noone has dominion over the land, or alternatively, anyone is free to gain/develop/enforce/purchase dominion over the land.

Of course, it could work the other way, where dominion is an elaboration of the root dom which as it says above (and in Tamara's answer) comes from domus and dem that mean house.


"Freedom comes from the Indo-European root which means 'love'. The word afraid also comes from this same root. Used as a antonym for freedom with the prefix 'a' due to the influence of Vulgar (Colloquial) Latin."

I'm directly quoting from wikipedia, but I thought it might be interesting for your discussion.

Original - "En castellano la palabra libertad proviene del latín libertas, -ātis, de igual significado.

La palabra inglesa para libertad, freedom, proviene de una raíz indoeuropea que significa amar; la palabra de la misma lengua para decir miedo, afraid, viene de la misma raíz, usado como contraposición a libertad mediante el prefijo a por influencia del latín vulgar."

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    Sophie, this answer might be quite good, but it needs the sources of information properly cited. Simply referencing Wikipedia will not really help one in confirming your information. Please note how other successful answers are formatted, and consider rewriting your response. Thanks.
    – J. Taylor
    Nov 30, 2018 at 10:18

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