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

Inaction, in my mind, is a sure path to the collapse of the fundamental principles of our rights as human beings to mutual well-being and free speech., "What I've Learned As A Teen Gun Reform Activist," 11 July 2018 Image The California Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Yelp, the local search and reviews site, did not need to remove negative comments posted by a user, in a case closely watched by the industry for its implications for online free speech. Claire Ballentine, New York Times, "Yelp Can’t Be Ordered to Remove Negative Posts, California Court Rules," 3 July 2018 The scandal led to a debate about race, politics and free speech within the Trinity community, on campus and off. Maya Moore,, "Trinity Appoints Vice President for Diversity, Equity And Inclusion," 6 June 2018 Campus arguments over diversity and free speech are causing some distinguished academics to do extremely strange things. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Niall Ferguson wanted opposition research on a student.," 1 June 2018 Judge says ban had a chilling effect on free speechAfter a two-hour hearing, Hamilton Superior Court 3 Judge William Hughes pulled out and signed his nine-page judgment, already written. Leigh Hedger, Indianapolis Star, "Messer didn’t disclose DUIs when he replaced lawmaker killed by drunken driver," 18 Apr. 2018 To camera up our community by holding regular extended and unhurried public town hall meetings with free speech and open microphones (immediately). Devin Kelly, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage mayoral candidate Q&A: Why do you want this job?," 8 Mar. 2018 Kavanaugh himself has pushed the First Amendment even more aggressively than the Supreme Court has, deciding, for example, that net neutrality regulations violate the free speech rights of cable companies. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh and the new judicial activism," 12 July 2018 So the decision struck down the provision targeted at both licensed and unlicensed CPCs, arguing that while pregnant women have a right to know about medical services, this placed too much of a burden on the free speech rights of the centers. Lauren Rankin, SELF, "It’s Legal for Crisis Pregnancy Centers in California to Lie to You About Abortion," 11 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of free speech

1765, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

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The first known use of free speech was in 1765

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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

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