free speech


Definition of free speech

: speech that is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution also : the right to such speech an unconstitutional restraint on free speechNat'l Law Jour.

Examples of free speech in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web While TikTok’s separation from Hong Kong appears to go even further than the moves by US tech firms, several observers argue the decision can’t be read as the company standing up for free speech or pushing back on Beijing’s censorship. Jane Li, Quartz, "TikTok’s Hong Kong exit isn’t a stand against Beijing’s internet censorship," 7 July 2020 Kirk recalled that in his time speaking at college campuses nationwide over the last couple of years, students have recognized that the president has had their backs by signing a 2019 executive order for free speech on college campuses. Fox News, "Charlie Kirk: Trump's 'incredible' youth turnout in Arizona defied the mainstream media narrative," 24 June 2020 More than just having a close relationship with the Trumps, and leading Students for Trump, Kirk was behind those who urged the president to sign an executive order designed to protect free speech on college campuses. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Turning Point USA donations more than double, fuel fight on culture war's front lines," 24 June 2020 Some of the people affected were in the United States, which has robust legal protections for free speech. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Zoom cites Chinese law to defend censorship of human rights activists," 11 June 2020 There has never been a more important time to fight for free speech online than right now. Ron Wyden For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "I wrote this law to protect free speech. Now Trump wants to revoke it," 9 June 2020 In several Facebook posts this week, Zuckerberg doubled down on the free speech policy. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Facebook employees stage a virtual walkout after Zuckerberg fails to take action against Trump's posts," 2 June 2020 The suit seeks a court restraining order that would bar the city police, sheriff’s deputies and state police from violating journalists’ rights to free speech and assembly and due process and against unlawful seizure. oregonlive, "Two independent journalists file suit against Portland police, county sheriff’s deputies and state police," 9 July 2020 The Knights of Columbus Star of the Sea Council contends that the 2018 decision by Rehoboth Beach officials violates constitutional guarantees of free speech and the free exercise of religion. Washington Post, "Catholic group sues beach town over ban on Nativity scene," 25 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'free speech.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of free speech

1765, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about free speech

Time Traveler for free speech

Time Traveler

The first known use of free speech was in 1765

See more words from the same year

Statistics for free speech

Last Updated

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Free speech.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for free speech

free speech


Legal Definition of free speech

1 : speech that is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution setting off an alarm bell is not free speech— A. M. Dershowitz
2 : freedom of speech an unconstitutional restraint on free speechNational Law Journal

Comments on free speech

What made you want to look up free speech? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!