free

adjective
\ˈfrē \
freer; freest

Definition of free 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : not costing or charging anything a free school a free ticket

2a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen setting the slave free

b : enjoying civil and political liberty free citizens

c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination This is a free country.

d : enjoying personal freedom : not subject to the control or domination of another You are free to do whatever you want.

3a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself a player free to negotiate a contract with any team

b : determined by the choice of the actor or performer free actions

c : made, done, or given voluntarily or spontaneously gave his free consent

4a : relieved from or lacking something and especially something unpleasant or burdensome free from pain a speech free of political rhetoric often used in combination error-free

b : not bound, confined, or detained by force The prisoner is now free.

5a : having no trade restrictions duty-free imports

b : not subject to government regulation free competition

c of foreign exchange : not subject to restriction or official control

6a : having no obligations (as to work) or commitments I'll be free this evening

b : not taken up with commitments or obligations a free evening

7 : having a scope not restricted by qualification a free variable

8a : not obstructed, restricted, or impeded free to leave

b : not being used or occupied waved with his free hand

c : not hampered or restricted in its normal operation

9a : not fastened the free end of the rope

b : not confined to a particular position or place in twelve-tone music, no note is wholly free for it must hold its place in the series— J. L. Stewart

c : capable of moving or turning in any direction a free particle

d : performed without apparatus free tumbling

e : done with artificial aids (such as pitons) used only for protection against falling and not for support a free climb

10a : not parsimonious free spending

b : outspoken is free in his criticism

c : availing oneself of something without stint she's very free with her money

d : frank, open

e : overly familiar or forward in action or attitude a young man who had been much too free with the ladies of the town— Harvey Graham

f : licentious inexcusably free talk before the ladies

11a(1) : not united with, attached to, combined with, or mixed with something else : separate free ores a free surface of a bodily part

(2) : freestanding a free column

b : chemically uncombined free oxygen free acids

c : not permanently attached but able to move about a free electron in a metal

d : capable of being used alone as a meaningful linguistic form the word hats is a free form — compare bound entry 5 sense 7

12a : not literal or exact free translation

b : not restricted by or conforming to conventional forms free skating

13 : favorable used of a wind blowing from a direction more than six points from dead ahead

14 : not allowing slavery was admitted to the Union as a free state

15 : open to all comers that most pleasurable of Anglo-Saxon pastimes, a free fight— Winston Churchill

for free

: without charge

free

adverb

Definition of free (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : in a free manner

2 : without charge

3 : with the wind more than six points from dead ahead sailing free

free

verb
freed; freeing

Definition of free (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to cause to be free

b : to relieve or rid of what restrains, confines, restricts, or embarrasses free a person from debt often used with up free up space on the hard drive

c : disentangle, clear

2 obsolete : banish

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Other Words from free

Adjective

freeness \ˈfrē-​nəs \ noun

Verb

freer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for free

Adjective

free, independent, sovereign, autonomous mean not subject to the rule or control of another. free stresses the complete absence of external rule and the full right to make all of one's own decisions. you're free to do as you like independent implies a standing alone; applied to a state it implies lack of connection with any other having power to interfere with its citizens, laws, or policies. the colony's struggle to become independent sovereign stresses the absence of a superior power and implies supremacy within a thing's own domain or sphere. separate and sovereign armed services autonomous stresses independence in matters pertaining to self-government. in this denomination each congregation is regarded as autonomous

Verb

free, release, liberate, emancipate, manumit mean to set loose from restraint or constraint. free implies a usually permanent removal from whatever binds, confines, entangles, or oppresses. freed the animals from their cages release suggests a setting loose from confinement, restraint, or a state of pressure or tension, often without implication of permanent liberation. released his anger on a punching bag liberate stresses particularly the resulting state of liberty. liberated their country from the tyrant emancipate implies the liberation of a person from subjection or domination. labor-saving devices emancipated us from household drudgery manumit implies emancipation from slavery. the document manumitted the slaves

Can Something Be "For free?"

The word free is often encountered on the heels of the word for, and this combination sets some people’s teeth on edge. The main objection to the phrase for free is that, in this instance, free functions as an adverb rather than a noun and therefore should not be in the intimate company of the preposition for. Following this line of reasoning, a more correct phrasing would be to say that something is offered for nothing, for no charge, or some other combination of preposition + noun. Unfortunately for critics of the expression, English users do not agree. Despite its recent adoption in the mid-20th century and its informality, for free is in widespread use and is generally accepted in standard speech and writing.

Examples of free in a Sentence

Adjective

They're giving out free tickets to the show. The school newsletter is free. After 10 years in jail, he was finally a free man. The animal struggled to get free of the trap. His legs became caught in the net, and he was unable to get himself free.

Adverb

The gate opened, and the animals ran free. Buy one, get one free.

Verb

The gunman freed two of the hostages. The animals were freed from their cages. His legs became tangled in the net, and he was unable to free himself. He was unable to free his legs from the net. The animal struggled to free itself from the trap. Hiring an assistant has freed him to spend more time with his family. She encourages her students to free their imaginations.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Reshma Kapadia recently wrote in Barron’s: Everyone knows about the good old days, when hardworking Americans were able to enjoy a comfortable, worry-free retirement thanks to their healthy pension. WSJ, "Who Wants to Support a Millionaire?," 30 Nov. 2018 YouTube Premium, in contrast, costs $12 per month and includes access to all Music features in addition to Originals, ad-free video streaming across all of YouTube, video downloads, and background listening. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Bring in the ads—YouTube may let everyone watch Original shows, films," 28 Nov. 2018 Properly configured, the Steam Link offered virtually lag-free 1080p gaming at 60fps in all but the twitchiest of games. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Valve's Steam Link is dead, and that sucks," 20 Nov. 2018 Those policies, Methvin says, include universal healthcare, debt-free college, and a $15 minimum wage. Jill Filipovic, Harper's BAZAAR, "Your State-by-State Guide to Women Running in the Midterms," 31 Oct. 2018 Receive free nights now through October 31, 2018 at Jamaica’s premier resort. Condé Naste Traveler: Post, "Free Nights This Summer!," 26 Oct. 2018 Just today, Microsoft announced the rollout of password-free login using its Microsoft Authenticator app while the digital security company Yubikey announced a new version of its USB security keys that forgo the need for passwords altogether. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Is This Finally the Beginning of the End for the Password?," 24 Sep. 2018 Despite a slim chance of survival, she was eventually declared cancer-free after grueling rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "‘Alaskan Bush People' Cast: How Well Do You Know the Brown Family?," 23 Sep. 2018 Buyer's Guide Expert reviews, car-shopping advice, features and specs, free price quotes, and more—all in our Buyer's Guide. Car and Driver, "Oops! It seems you've reached a dead end.," 18 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Just as important, though, is the fact that Mr. Sondheim is and has always been a theatrical composer, not a creator of free-standing songs. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "Learning to Love Stephen Sondheim," 28 Nov. 2018 Curved stone walls, a free-standing cone fireplace, and a circular kitchen island add to the midcentury-modern style. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Midcentury honeymoon crash pad of Elvis and Priscilla Presley wants $3.2M," 16 Oct. 2018 With 99 percent of the Pantanal privately owned by ranches, free-ranging cattle are gobbling up all the natural grass. Adam Popescu, National Geographic, "These Fish Keep Forests Alive—And Fishing Threatens Them," 12 June 2018 Some dispute the number but wildlife experts agree that free-roaming cats can do serious damage, especially to sensitive ecosystems. Patty Khuly, miamiherald, "Are our pooping pets bad for the environment? | Miami Herald," 26 Apr. 2018 Some historians think the large circle of free-standing stones was once a solar calendar used to track the seasons. Justin Grieser, Washington Post, "Summer solstice is Thursday — 5 things to know about the longest day of the year," 20 June 2018 That money could be reinvested the way the Europeans do it: in health care for all, subsidized childcare, free higher education, and other things that would make Americans’ lives better. Lindsay Koshgarian, Fortune, "Trump’s Complaints About NATO Defense Spending Don’t Add Up," 12 July 2018 Izzett is understandably left crying and upset her sister sacrificed herself for Izzett and the ,ingdom, but the character Garvin (Finn Russell) reminds Izzett she's been given a new chance to live, free of the giant. Danny Atkinson, Courant Community, "Epoch Arts Opens Summer Season," 2 July 2018 In Virginia’s 9th and 6th Congressional Districts, Anthony Flaccavento and Jennifer Lewis are running on platforms that include support for a $15 minimum wage, free higher education, and Medicare for All. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Give the Left a Chance," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Slashing military spending from its current 3.5 percent of GDP level would free up about $3 trillion over the course of a decade. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The $21 trillion Pentagon accounting error that can’t pay for Medicare-for-all, explained," 3 Dec. 2018 Harriet Tubman freed hundreds of slaves while living with seizures and narcolepsy. Ola Ojewumi, SELF, "I'm Celebrating My Disabled Black Girl Magic Because I'm Done Feeling Invisible," 7 Nov. 2018 In my testing, this can free up as much as 500MB of RAM. Scott Gilbertson, Ars Technica, "Vivaldi 2.0 review: The modern Web browser does not have to be so bland," 19 Oct. 2018 Kendall Jenner — who's historically been pretty opposed to bras — is once again freeing the nipple, this time in a photo shoot for Love magazine's 10th-anniversary issue. Evelyn Wang, Allure, "Kendall Jenner Frees the Nipple to Celebrate Love Magazine’s 10th Anniversary," 7 Aug. 2018 Will, a lapsed born-again Christian, frantically tries to free Phoebe from his influence, but the terrorist bombing foreshadowed in the prologue points to the novel’s direction. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: The Search for Self in an Ideological Age," 3 Aug. 2018 And what a group — an assortment of eccentric, tragic and highly amusing women trying to free themselves from their obsessive, self-destructive pursuit of awful men. Cathleen Schine, New York Times, "The Merman of Her Dreams," 12 June 2018 Saturday's court order temporarily halting Villavicencio's immediate removal to Ecuador means that his allies, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democratic lawmakers, will have at least another month to try to free him from federal custody. Avi Selk, latimes.com, "Man arrested by ICE while delivering pasta to military base will get to stay temporarily in U.S.," 11 June 2018 Saturday’s court order temporarily halting Villavicencio’s immediate removal to Ecuador means his allies, including New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Democratic lawmakers, will have at least another month to try to free him from federal custody. Avi Selk, Washington Post, "Immigrant arrested while delivering pasta to military base will get to stay in U.S. — for now," 10 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'free.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of free

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Adverb

1559, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for free

Adjective

Middle English, from Old English frēo; akin to Old High German frī free, Welsh rhydd, Sanskrit priya own, dear

Adverb

see free entry 1

Verb

see free entry 1

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Statistics for free

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for free

The first known use of free was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for free

free

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of free

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: not costing any money

: not held as a slave or prisoner

: not physically held by something

free

verb

English Language Learners Definition of free (Entry 2 of 3)

: to release (a person or animal) from a prison, cage, etc.

: to release (someone or something) from being physically held or blocked

: to cause or allow (someone or something) to stop having or being affected by something unpleasant, painful, or unwanted

free

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of free (Entry 3 of 3)

: in a free way

: without charge : at no cost

free

adjective
\ˈfrē \
freer\ˈfrē-​ər \; freest\ˈfrē-​əst \

Kids Definition of free

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : given without charge a free ticket

2 : having liberty : not being a slave or prisoner free citizens

3 : not controlled by a harsh ruler or laws a free country

4 : not physically held by something … his utmost efforts could lift the gate free.— Dick King-Smith, Pigs Might Fly

5 : not having or suffering from something unpleasant, unwanted, or painful free from worry

6 : not held back by fear or uncertainty Feel free to ask questions.

7 : not blocked The road was free of traffic.

8 : not required to be doing something See me when you're free.

9 : not used or occupied a free seat

10 : not combined free oxygen

Other Words from free

freely adverb

free

verb
freed; freeing

Kids Definition of free (Entry 2 of 3)

: to let go or set free

free

adverb

Kids Definition of free (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : in a free manner : freely They let their dog run free.

2 : without charge Buy two, get one free.

free

adjective
\ˈfrē \
freer; freest

Medical Definition of free 

1a : relieved from or lacking something and especially something unpleasant or burdensome free from pain

b : not bound or confined by force upon opening the skull a considerable amount of free blood is noted— H. G. Armstrong

2a(1) : not united with, attached to, combined with, or mixed with something else a free surface of a bodily part

(2) : having the bare axon exposed in tissue a free nerve ending

b : not chemically combined free calcium

c : not permanently attached but able to move about a free electron in a metal

3 : having all living connections severed before removal to another site a free graft research…in free flap transfers— B. R. Alford

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free

adjective

Legal Definition of free 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen

b : enjoying civil and political liberty a free people

c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent StatesDeclaration of Independence

d : not subject to the control or domination of another

2 : made or done as a matter of choice and right : not compelled or restricted no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereofU.S. Constitution amend. I a free and voluntary confession

3 : relieved from or lacking a burden (as a lien or other encumbrance on title) a buyer in ordinary course of business…takes free of a security interest created by the buyer's sellerUniform Commercial Code

4 : not bound, confined, or detained by force free on bail

5a : having no trade restrictions

b : not subject to government regulation

c of foreign exchange : not subject to restriction or official control

6 : not costing or charging anything

for free

: without charge

Other Words from free

freely adverb
freed; freeing

Legal Definition of free (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to cause to be free

2 : to relieve or rid of what constrains, confines, restricts, or burdens

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More from Merriam-Webster on free

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with free

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for free

Spanish Central: Translation of free

Nglish: Translation of free for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of free for Arabic Speakers

Comments on free

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