What is the difference between a Leftist and a Liberal?
A Leftist is liberal in the sense that they will tend to stand for, and support, extreme liberal individualism, socialism and communism. The Liberal tends to have a more centrist ideology, such as liberalism. In many cases this can be best described as a mix of social progressiveness with economic conservatism. Although most left-leaning liberals are not technically socialists , their offshoot ideologies like Democratic Socialism are coming into prominence. There are far fewer Liberals than Leftists, and they tend to be less visible.
“Liberal”, as used in America today, is now a catch-all term for those who stand up against the excesses of conservatives. In that sense it’s clearly distinct from “leftist”, as leftists are often quite moderate economically. In Europe, where the socialist tradition runs far deeper than in America, it makes less sense to distinguish between liberals and leftists than it does in America.
“Left-wingers” are more common in Europe. The two terms can be used interchangeably when looking at the American political spectrum, but only when considering Europe is “liberal” a term that should not be confused with leftist or socialist.