\ 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 For many African Americans, celebrating the Fourth of July as the day Americans became free from British rule feels inapplicable since our ancestors were not free.— Christen A. Johnson
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 1 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



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


freed; freeing; frees

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


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

Choose the Right Synonym for free


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


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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Moms can also contact A Caring Place in Mt. Carmel and Women's Centers of Ohio in Forest Park for free formula while supplies last. Victoria Moorwood, The Enquirer, 24 May 2022 Up until this year, SSGAC made all of the results of the group’s many GWAS studies available free for anyone to download. Megan Molteni, STAT, 24 May 2022 Lula da Silva remains free pending any future appeals. CNN, 23 May 2022 Thankfully, there are tons of fun summer activities for children around the Valley and while restaurants don't have familial bliss on the menu, these metro Phoenix spots can at least offer your kid a free meal., 23 May 2022 Fans age 15 and younger who join the Kids Club have a chance to win prizes for attending games and receive free tickets to attend Sunday games. Laura Latzko, The Arizona Republic, 23 May 2022 My mind sometimes aches for the free, unfettered highs fueled by alcohol, but my body knows better. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 23 May 2022 Users of the free services in the empire of Meta Platforms Inc., which includes WhatsApp, sometimes go to great and unusual lengths to get help. Kirsten Grind, WSJ, 23 May 2022 Other activities at the conference are entrepreneur demonstrations, free medical certifications for the first 30 participants who request them (and have qualifying conditions), massages, aromatherapy, networking, lunch and music. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 23 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Though the ceremony incorporated Jewish traditions, the couple did not have a free-standing huppah. New York Times, 13 May 2022 The 3,500-square-foot floor plan also holds four bedrooms and five bathrooms, including a primary suite with a free-standing fireplace. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2022 The low-profile design is perfect for sitting in front of a free-standing TV without blocking the screen or the TV’s IR receiver. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 4 May 2022 Those aren't bad numbers, particularly considering the free-floating economic anxiety that has shaken the country and the world in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. NBC News, 10 Apr. 2022 The exchange rate is no longer free-floating and the currency would be at a very different level if barriers were removed. Sydney Maki,, 6 Apr. 2022 By Steph is part of a growing trend of free-floating niche vegan businesses in Utah popping up online. Stefene Russell, The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Mar. 2022 Later this month, the first mission from Axiom Space is expected to send four people to the ISS in an intial step towards building their own module on the station, with the intent of spinning it off as a free-floating habitat later on. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, 10 Mar. 2022 In optics, beams like these could be used to trap and impart rotation to free-floating particles. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, 2 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb An exclusive clip from the series' premiere showcases Will acting as a literal shepherd to a flock, trying to free a sheep caught in the marsh — as Cora comes to his aid. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 12 May 2022 Families from Central America, hoping to free their children from the poverty and gang violence at home, often pay smugglers to route the children through openings in the border wall, knowing that Border Patrol agents will pick them up. New York Times, 9 May 2022 Crews worked to free the pup using power saws and cooling water. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 May 2022 Many of Markwood’s students take classes over the summer, like PE or a foreign language, to free up space in their schedules for choir. Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2022 Last month, archivists found the 1828 documents detailing Truth's fight to free her youngest son, Peter, in New York. Giselle Rhoden, CNN, 27 Feb. 2022 Australian crocodile wrangler Matt Wright had tried and failed to free the crocodile in 2020. NBC News, 9 Feb. 2022 The attack appeared aimed to free senior IS operatives in the prison. Brooke Singman, Fox News, 4 Feb. 2022 Infrastructure funding will also remain the same at $13.8 million, allowing the city to free up some space in the 2022 bond program to fully fund public art and still address roads and bridges projects. Megan Stringer, San Antonio Express-News, 3 Feb. 2022 See More

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


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


1559, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

Time Traveler for free

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near free



free agent

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Statistics for free

Last Updated

25 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Free.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for free


\ 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


freed; freeing

Kids Definition of free (Entry 2 of 3)

: to let go or set free



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.


\ 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



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


transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on free

Nglish: Translation of free for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of free for Arabic Speakers


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