free association

noun

Definition of free association

1a : the expression (as by speaking or writing) of the content of consciousness without censorship as an aid in gaining access to unconscious processes especially in psychoanalysis
b : the reporting of the first thought that comes to mind in response to a given stimulus (such as a word)
2 : an idea or image elicited by free association
3 : a method using free association

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Other Words from free association

free-associate \ ˌfrē-​ə-​ˈsō-​sē-​ˌāt How to pronounce free-associate (audio) , -​shē-​ \ intransitive verb
free-associative \ -​sē-​ˌā-​tiv How to pronounce free-associative (audio) , -​shē-​ˌā-​ -​shə-​tiv \ adjective

Examples of free association in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The second was that religious liberty and free association were at grave legal risk. David French, National Review, "Against Conservative Cultural Defeatism," 4 June 2019 Gibson is credited with reimagining the modern photo book, transforming it from its more illustrative, thematic approach to a deeply personal, artistic form where the sequence is based on free association rather than chronology or narrative. The New York Review of Books, "Carole Naggar," 25 May 2019 But the process for both of them was certainly based on the concept of free association. Sarah Medford, WSJ, "Growing Up With Helen Frankenthaler on Cape Cod," 30 May 2018 While the pair’s first collaboration of graphic tees took on the Jean Clemmer photographers and book titles, the second is more of a free association of ideas surrounding Dossena’s Spring collection theme. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "These Are Not Your Average Graphic Tees: Julien Dossena and Peter Saville Talk About Their New Paco Rabanne Collaboration," 23 May 2018 Exploring is something that breaks the bounds of time and space and permits us free associations, perhaps with similar events in the past, perhaps with choice-worthy events in the future. Martin Seligman, BostonGlobe.com, "When the brain is off to sleep — but hard at work," 22 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'free association.' 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 association

1925, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

29 Jun 2019

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The first known use of free association was in 1925

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More Definitions for free association

free association

noun

Medical Definition of free association

1a : the expression (as by speaking or writing) of the content of consciousness without censorship as an aid in gaining access to unconscious processes especially in psychoanalysis
b : the reporting of the first thought that comes to mind in response to a given stimulus (as a word)
2 : an idea or image elicited by free association
3 : a method using free association

More from Merriam-Webster on free association

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about free association

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