free association

noun

1
a
: 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
free-associate intransitive verb
free-associative
-sē-ˌā-tiv How to pronounce free association (audio)
-shē-ˌā- -shə-tiv
adjective

Examples of free association in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Since 1994, Palau has been covered by a compact of free association with the United States, making Washington responsible for its defense needs and allowing Palauans to serve in the US military. Brad Lendon, CNN, 30 June 2024 And in 2019, a federal judge rejected a lawsuit brought by two arms of the International Union of Operating Engineers that argued the law violates free speech and free association under the First Amendment. Scott Bauer, Fortune, 28 May 2024 For instance, instead of trying to write a report according to a specific ruleset, do some free association brainstorming first, or think outside the box when meal-planning by getting unusual ingredients. Tarot.com, Baltimore Sun, 7 Apr. 2024 What is really being fought over here is a hazy, transcendent national concept that, since Oct. 7, has overtaken more firmly constitutional principles of free expression and free association. Jason Farago, New York Times, 6 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for free association 

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

Word History

First Known Use

1925, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of free association was in 1925

Dictionary Entries Near free association

Cite this Entry

“Free association.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/free%20association. Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition

free association

noun
1
a
: 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

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