free

1 of 3

adjective

freer; freest
1
: not costing or charging anything
a free school
a free ticket
2
a
: 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.
3
a
: 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
4
a
: 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.
5
a
: 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
6
a
: 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
8
a
: 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
9
a
: 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 seriesJ. 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
10
a
: 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 townHarvey Graham
f
: licentious
inexcusably free talk before the ladies
11
a(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
12
a
: 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 fightWinston Churchill
freeness noun

free

2 of 3

adverb

1
: in a free manner
2
: without charge
3
: with the wind more than six points from dead ahead
sailing free

free

3 of 3

verb

freed; freeing; frees

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
Phrases
for free
: without charge

Did you know?

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.

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more. Patrick Gomez, EW.com, 15 July 2024 In her free time, Molly enjoys seeing live music, practicing yoga or boxing, and hanging out with her teacup poodle, Ziggy. Molly Ruggere, Charlotte Observer, 15 July 2024
Adverb
Mason being set free sparked a massive manhunt in Indiana. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, 27 Sep. 2023 In 2020, the space agency awarded Axiom Space up to $140 million to make at least one module to attach to the ISS, which c ould eventually be part of a new free-flying station. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Mar. 2023
Verb
Hinckley, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity, spent time in a psychiatric hospital but was released in 2016 and freed of all government oversight in 2022. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 July 2024 Their fiercely loyal mother, Cala (Sara Martins), follows, determined to free her children. Judy Berman, TIME, 17 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for free 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'free.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective, Adverb, and Verb

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near free

Cite this Entry

“Free.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/free. Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

free

1 of 3 adjective
freer
ˈfrē-ər
; freest
ˈfrē-əst
1
a
: having liberty : not being enslaved
free citizens
b
: not controlled by others : independent
a free country
a free press
2
a
: released or not suffering from something unpleasant or painful
free from worry
free from disease
b
: not bound or contained by or as if by force
you are free to leave
3
: having nothing that must be done instead
I'm free tomorrow night
4
a
: not blocked : clear
free space
b
: not being used or occupied
free time
5
: not fastened
the free end of the rope
6
: not cheap : generous
a free spender
7
: not costing or charging anything
free tickets
8
: not held back by fear or distrust
free expression of opinion
9
: not combined with something else
free oxygen
10
: able to be used alone as a meaningful unit of language
the word "hats" is a free form
11
: not restricted by or limited to the usual forms
free skating
freely adverb

free

2 of 3 verb
freed; freeing
: to make or set free

free

3 of 3 adverb
1
: in a free manner
2
: without charge

Medical Definition

free

adjective
freer; freest
1
a
: 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 notedH. G. Armstrong
2
a(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 transfersB. R. Alford

Legal Definition

free

1 of 2 adjective
1
a
: 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
5
a
: 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
freely adverb

free

2 of 2 transitive verb
freed; freeing
1
: to cause to be free
2
: to relieve or rid of what constrains, confines, restricts, or burdens

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