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 speech Nat'l Law Jour.

Examples of free speech in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Kunzru and others gathered at the New York Public Library to read excerpts from Rushdie's work and discuss the importance of free speech, which Rushdie has spent his career defending. Aj Willingham, CNN, 19 Sep. 2022 The law was imposed by Beijing to bring order to the city following a wave of sometimes-violent pro-democracy protests the year before, but rights groups have said it has been used as a tool to squash free speech and close opposition media outlets. Dan Strumpf, WSJ, 19 Sep. 2022 Over the last year or so, books were banned at least 2,500 times by more than 130 school districts across 30-plus states, according to an analysis published Monday by PEN America, a free speech and literary organization. Alia Wong, USA TODAY, 19 Sep. 2022 The topical play by Paul Grellong, about free speech in academia and the rise of white nationalism, wasn’t seaworthy, but Cranston’s presence was all that was required to turn this misbegotten drama into a hit. Charles Mcnulty, Los Angeles Times, 14 Sep. 2022 Eagle Forum Executive Director Becky Gerritson said the subpoena amounts to harassment and would require disclosure of information protected by the First Amendment and the rights of free speech, association, and to petition the government. Mike Cason |, al, 7 Sep. 2022 And as the past couple of weeks have shown, there’s a delicate balance that cybersecurity providers can reach between free speech and censorship. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 6 Sep. 2022 Alexei Venediktov, a prominent liberal media figure, who spoke to Gorbachev by phone in July, said then that the former Soviet leader opposed the war and knew that Putin had left his reforms of free speech and openness in ashes. Mary Ilyushina, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2022 Women could work, girls could go to school, and free speech and freedom of religion were respected before the Taliban took over, Sales said. Fox News, 31 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of free speech

1765, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near free speech

free/spare time

free speech

free spirit

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for free speech

Last Updated

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Free speech.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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