free solo

1 of 2


plural free solos
rock climbing
: a climb in which a climber uses no artificial aids for support and has no rope or other safety equipment for protection in case of a fall
Before attempting his free solo of Moonlight Buttress, [Alex] Honnold rehearsed the most challenging pitch on rope repeatedly, until he had memorized each move.Nathaniel Rich
He's attempting to do something that professional rock climbers have long thought was impossible—a "free solo" ascent of the world's most iconic cliff. That means he is alone and climbing without a rope as he inches his way up more than half a mile of sheer rock.Mark Synnott
free soloist noun
plural free soloists
Aside from good sneakers and a bit of friction-inducing chalk on the palms, there is nothing to prevent a free soloist from a fatal fall. Rafer Guzmán
Honnold … has become the world's pre-eminent free soloist, traveling around the world to scale seemingly unscalable mountains. G. Allen Johnson

free solo

2 of 2


variants or free-solo
free soloed or free-soloed; free soloing or free-soloing; free soloes or free-soloes

transitive + intransitive

rock climbing
: to perform a free solo climb of a rock face, climbing route, etc. : to climb without the use of artificial aids or safety equipment
On June 3, 2017, Alex Honnold free soloed the Freerider route of El Capitan in three hours and 56 minutes.Bret Stephens
When a climber "free solos" a route, any mistake will result in falling to your death.C. Moon Reed
"When I free-solo, I personally only do climbs I've climbed before," [Austen] McNulty said.Tim Drugan-Eppich
free soloing noun
or free-soloing
In the sport of free soloing, which means climbing with only a powdery chalk bag and rock shoes—no rope, no gear, nothing to keep you stuck to the stone but your own belief and ability—doubt is dangerous. Mark Jenkins

Word History

First Known Use


1977, in the meaning defined above


1977, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of free solo was in 1977

Dictionary Entries Near free solo

Cite this Entry

“Free solo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jan. 2023.

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