free

adjective
\ ˈfrē How to pronounce free (audio) \
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
2 obsolete : banish

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Other Words from free

Adjective

freeness \ ˈfrē-​nəs How to pronounce freeness (audio) \ 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

The service is free and does not show up on any bills. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, Prince William, and Prince Harry Team Up to Launch Shout, a Crisis Text Line," 9 May 2019 Emirates is putting on the free show, which later moves on to Los Angeles. Alexander Stoklosa, Car and Driver, "The Emirates Formula 1 Festival Is Coming to Chicago in June, and It's F-R-E-E," 19 May 2019 Anyone accepted into the beta will also receive a free Earth skin. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Minecraft Earth busts out of the box as a Pokemon Go-inspired mobile AR game," 17 May 2019 Their works simultaneously keep their culture’s traditions alive while proving that artists can break free from their tribe’s respective signatures and create pieces that are, yes, even trendy. Vogue, "Meet 8 Indigenous Beaders Who Are Modernizing Their Craft," 24 Apr. 2019 Share your Fork the Patriarchy kale quinoa bowl and your Universal Childcare sippy cup (@lololevine and @audreygelman, feel free to steal that one!). Lauren Smith Brody, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Invisible Nannies of Instagram," 17 Apr. 2019 When talking about consent, both of you need to feel free to be honest about your personal boundaries. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "17 Kissing Positions You Should Try During Your Next Makeout Session," 9 Apr. 2019 Yet precisely because the wall idea is so bad, Democrats, rightly, aren’t going to give it away for free. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The shutdown is intractable because Trump’s wall is ridiculous and Republicans know it," 8 Jan. 2019 The regal vibes continued into her hair and makeup; a portion of her dark hair was piled high atop her head, letting the rest run free past her shoulders. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Yara Shahidi Attends Met Gala 2019 in Embellished Bodysuit and Leggings," 6 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Find out more about how Dan uses free salvaged and recycled materials to make his creative, whimsical homes below. Jenae Sitzes, Country Living, "This Cowboy Boot-Shaped Texas Home Is Every Cowgirl's Dream Home," 22 Mar. 2017 The city is giving as many immigrants as possible attorneys in court, free of charge. Jillian Weinberger, Vox, "Deportation without representation," 9 Nov. 2018 Most of the stores offer general merchandise but some are free-standing pharmacies or optical services locations. Becky Yerak, WSJ, "Retailer Shopko Enters Chapter 11 Bankruptcy," 16 Jan. 2019 The last one features a $4,700 free-standing tub from Kohler as the centerpiece of the post, which was sponsored by the kitchen-and-bath brand. Elisa Lipsky-karasz, WSJ, "Gwyneth Paltrow Wants to Convert You," 4 Dec. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Working together Newman, the head of the federal public defender’s office, said the federal judges in northern Ohio have been receptive to his office’s work to free Badley and others doing long sentences for crack cocaine. Eric Heisig, cleveland.com, "Cleveland man freed from prison after Trump-signed criminal justice reform bill grateful for second chance," 18 Mar. 2019 With 3,000 feet worth of rock, there are plenty of places to get a rope stuck and have to backtrack to free it (as happened during their second record run) or to have to pass another party of climbers, eating up precious minutes. National Geographic, "Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell Set Historic Speed Record on El Capitan," 6 June 2018 Apple even introduced the Apple Watch with this idea in mind: it was pitched as a device to free you from the tyranny of the phone. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "Tech Addiction and the Paradox of Apple's 'Screen Time' Tools," 5 June 2018 That includes the story of Judge, who in 1796 made her move to free herself from George and Martha Washington's enslavement. Michael Walsh, Courant Community, "Local Bringing Living History To Senior Center," 29 May 2018 With everything from a reading of the Declaration of Independence to free snow cones, the celebration brought community members out in droves. Brian Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, "Communities come together across San Antonio to celebrate the Fourth," 4 July 2018 By the time Alhambra, California, police arrived to free the child at 2:20 p.m., the temperature inside the van had reached 120 degrees, officers told KABC. Don Sweeney, sacbee, "Baby sitter left 6-year-old in 120-degree van to run errands, California cops say," 14 June 2018 The Seahawks lost tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Paul Richardson to free agency. Geoffrey C. Arnold, OregonLive.com, "Seattle Seahawks need Russell Wilson to be 'LeBron-esque' again in 2018," 11 June 2018 Two Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar after reporting on the military’s abuses against the ethnic Rohingya minority were freed Tuesday as part of a presidential amnesty for more than 6,000 prisoners. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Myanmar Frees Reuters Reporters Jailed Over Rohingya Coverage," 7 May 2019

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, Adverb, and Verb

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

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Learn More about free

Statistics for free

Last Updated

6 Jun 2019

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

adverb

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

: in a free way
: without charge : at no cost

free

verb

English Language Learners Definition of free (Entry 3 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

adjective
\ ˈfrē How to pronounce free (audio) \
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 How to pronounce free (audio) \
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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