\ ˈfrē How to pronounce free (audio) \
freer; freest

Definition of free

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : not costing or charging anything a free school a free ticket
2a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen For many African Americans, celebrating the Fourth of July as the day Americans became free from British rule feels inapplicable since our ancestors were not free.— Christen A. Johnson
b : enjoying civil and political liberty free citizens
c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination This is a free country.
d : enjoying personal freedom : not subject to the control or domination of another You are free to do whatever you want.
3a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself a player free to negotiate a contract with any team
b : determined by the choice of the actor or performer free actions
c : made, done, or given voluntarily or spontaneously gave his free consent
4a : relieved from or lacking something and especially something unpleasant or burdensome free from pain a speech free of political rhetoric often used in combination error-free
b : not bound, confined, or detained by force The prisoner is now free.
5a : having no trade restrictions duty-free imports
b : not subject to government regulation free competition
c of foreign exchange : not subject to restriction or official control
6a : having no obligations (as to work) or commitments I'll be free this evening
b : not taken up with commitments or obligations a free evening
7 : having a scope not restricted by qualification a free variable
8a : not obstructed, restricted, or impeded free to leave
b : not being used or occupied waved with his free hand
c : not hampered or restricted in its normal operation
9a : not fastened the free end of the rope
b : not confined to a particular position or place in twelve-tone music, no note is wholly free for it must hold its place in the series— J. L. Stewart
c : capable of moving or turning in any direction a free particle
d : performed without apparatus free tumbling
e : done with artificial aids (such as pitons) used only for protection against falling and not for support a free climb
10a : not parsimonious free spending
b : outspoken is free in his criticism
c : availing oneself of something without stint she's very free with her money
d : frank, open
e : overly familiar or forward in action or attitude a young man who had been much too free with the ladies of the town— Harvey Graham
f : licentious inexcusably free talk before the ladies
11a(1) : not united with, attached to, combined with, or mixed with something else : separate free ores a free surface of a bodily part
(2) : freestanding a free column
b : chemically uncombined free oxygen free acids
c : not permanently attached but able to move about a free electron in a metal
d : capable of being used alone as a meaningful linguistic form the word hats is a free form — compare bound entry 1 sense 7
12a : not literal or exact free translation
b : not restricted by or conforming to conventional forms free skating
13 : favorable used of a wind blowing from a direction more than six points from dead ahead
14 : not allowing slavery was admitted to the Union as a free state
15 : open to all comers that most pleasurable of Anglo-Saxon pastimes, a free fight— Winston Churchill
for free
: without charge



Definition of free (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : in a free manner
2 : without charge
3 : with the wind more than six points from dead ahead sailing free


freed; freeing; frees

Definition of free (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to cause to be free
b : to relieve or rid of what restrains, confines, restricts, or embarrasses free a person from debt often used with up free up space on the hard drive
2 obsolete : banish

Other Words from free


freeness \ ˈfrē-​nəs How to pronounce free (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for free


free, independent, sovereign, autonomous mean not subject to the rule or control of another. free stresses the complete absence of external rule and the full right to make all of one's own decisions. you're free to do as you like independent implies a standing alone; applied to a state it implies lack of connection with any other having power to interfere with its citizens, laws, or policies. the colony's struggle to become independent sovereign stresses the absence of a superior power and implies supremacy within a thing's own domain or sphere. separate and sovereign armed services autonomous stresses independence in matters pertaining to self-government. in this denomination each congregation is regarded as autonomous


free, release, liberate, emancipate, manumit mean to set loose from restraint or constraint. free implies a usually permanent removal from whatever binds, confines, entangles, or oppresses. freed the animals from their cages release suggests a setting loose from confinement, restraint, or a state of pressure or tension, often without implication of permanent liberation. released his anger on a punching bag liberate stresses particularly the resulting state of liberty. liberated their country from the tyrant emancipate implies the liberation of a person from subjection or domination. labor-saving devices emancipated us from household drudgery manumit implies emancipation from slavery. the document manumitted the slaves

Can Something Be "For free?"

The word free is often encountered on the heels of the word for, and this combination sets some people’s teeth on edge. The main objection to the phrase for free is that, in this instance, free functions as an adverb rather than a noun and therefore should not be in the intimate company of the preposition for. Following this line of reasoning, a more correct phrasing would be to say that something is offered for nothing, for no charge, or some other combination of preposition + noun. Unfortunately for critics of the expression, English users do not agree. Despite its recent adoption in the mid-20th century and its informality, for free is in widespread use and is generally accepted in standard speech and writing.

Examples of free in a Sentence

Adjective They're giving out free tickets to the show. The school newsletter is free. After 10 years in jail, he was finally a free man. The animal struggled to get free of the trap. His legs became caught in the net, and he was unable to get himself free. Adverb The gate opened, and the animals ran free. Buy one, get one free. Verb The gunman freed two of the hostages. The animals were freed from their cages. His legs became tangled in the net, and he was unable to free himself. He was unable to free his legs from the net. The animal struggled to free itself from the trap. Hiring an assistant has freed him to spend more time with his family. She encourages her students to free their imaginations. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Get your daily dose of health and medicine every weekday with STAT’s free newsletter Morning Rounds. Elizabeth Cooney, STAT, 21 Sep. 2022 Get smarter about markets with our free newsletter, delivered to your inbox every morning. WSJ, 20 Sep. 2022 Tickets to Music Explorers Series concerts are free for students and educators. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, 20 Sep. 2022 Only some states require that such services be free. Aria Bendix, NBC News, 20 Sep. 2022 Some are free, like Cafe Astrology, while other more sophisticated services, like, require you to pay. Ysolt Usigan, Woman's Day, 19 Sep. 2022 The two-day music festival is free and includes a lineup of 65 musical acts on six stages, including Starcrawler and Gaslamp Killer Experience featuring Drumetics. San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Sep. 2022 The event itself is free for those who just want to swing by and peruse. oregonlive, 17 Sep. 2022 Admission, which is free, allows children and leashed dogs until 6 p.m., after which The Wharf switches to 21-and-older crowds. Phillip Valys, Sun Sentinel, 16 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Built in 1886 and named for the president of a large Baltimore-area cotton milling operation, the free-standing masonry building housed about a dozen artists’ studios and the Hooper House Gallery. Cassidy Jensen, Baltimore Sun, 21 Sep. 2022 The newspaper reported that investigators said six people were in three hammocks that were attached to four free-standing columns. Staff Reports, cleveland, 30 Aug. 2022 Apartment dwellers may appreciate a free-standing wardrobe rack or clothing organizer. Sarah Madaus, SELF, 23 Aug. 2022 The loft-like space has a boudoir dressing room with a free-standing claw foot tub. E.b. Solomont, WSJ, 11 Aug. 2022 Housed in a free-standing structure situated between the estate’s pool and pickleball court, this crib’s secret contents are casting new light on the adventure passions of an energetic man. The Editors, Outside Online, 9 Aug. 2022 As recently as 2012, abortions conducted in free-standing clinics represented about a quarter of the total. Arjun Thakkar,, 8 Aug. 2022 The historic main house now has 15 suites (no two are alike) with garden and forest views, and seven additional free-standing cabins placed in the surrounding woods, with fireplaces and balconies with soaking tubs. Rima Suqi, ELLE Decor, 26 July 2022 Being a free-standing content provider, the company is seen as a possible acquisition target by a larger media or tech company. Stephen Battagliostaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 25 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For more on Chaudry's mission to free Adnan Syed and to read an excerpt of her new book, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday. Diane Herbst, Peoplemag, 19 Sep. 2022 Schools that violate Title IX could face federal funding cuts for programs that support everything from classroom instruction to free and reduced lunch programs. Laura Hancock, cleveland, 14 Sep. 2022 Many of the film’s cast had to learn how to free dive and hold their breath underwater to be able to perform their necessary scenes. Ej Panaligan, Variety, 10 Sep. 2022 The mailings contend the new law will free dangerous criminal suspects from jail and unleash them into the suburbs. Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune, 9 Sep. 2022 While the witness called 911, Villaverde managed to free his hands and then choked the other man, according to police records filed in Maricopa County Superior Court. Ayana Hamilton, The Arizona Republic, 8 Sep. 2022 On the album, Lovato aims to free herself of both musical and aesthetic expectations that have been placed on her—and for once, chooses to be unapologetic about doing so. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 18 Aug. 2022 Iran has said any final deal should protect the rights of the country and guarantee the lifting of sanctions, which could free up tens of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenue and boost Iran's struggling economy. Hadas Gold And Nadeen Ebrahim, CNN, 17 Aug. 2022 Effective MarTech solutions should be able to automate the most basic of tasks, free up team members’ time and provide an aggregate return on investment (ROI). Saurav Basu, Forbes, 17 Aug. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of free


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1559, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for free

Adjective, Adverb, and Verb

Middle English, from Old English frēo; akin to Old High German frī free, Welsh rhydd, Sanskrit priya own, dear

Learn More About free

Time Traveler for free

Time Traveler

The first known use of free was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near free



free agent

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Statistics for free

Last Updated

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Free.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for free


\ ˈfrē How to pronounce free (audio) \
freer\ ˈfrē-​ər \; freest\ ˈfrē-​əst \

Kids Definition of free

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : given without charge a free ticket
2 : having liberty : not being a slave or prisoner free citizens
3 : not controlled by a harsh ruler or laws a free country
4 : not physically held by something … his utmost efforts could lift the gate free.— Dick King-Smith, Pigs Might Fly
5 : not having or suffering from something unpleasant, unwanted, or painful free from worry
6 : not held back by fear or uncertainty Feel free to ask questions.
7 : not blocked The road was free of traffic.
8 : not required to be doing something See me when you're free.
9 : not used or occupied a free seat
10 : not combined free oxygen

Other Words from free

freely adverb


freed; freeing

Kids Definition of free (Entry 2 of 3)

: to let go or set free



Kids Definition of free (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : in a free manner : freely They let their dog run free.
2 : without charge Buy two, get one free.


\ ˈfrē How to pronounce free (audio) \
freer; freest

Medical Definition of free

1a : relieved from or lacking something and especially something unpleasant or burdensome free from pain
b : not bound or confined by force upon opening the skull a considerable amount of free blood is noted— H. G. Armstrong
2a(1) : not united with, attached to, combined with, or mixed with something else a free surface of a bodily part
(2) : having the bare axon exposed in tissue a free nerve ending
b : not chemically combined free calcium
c : not permanently attached but able to move about a free electron in a metal
3 : having all living connections severed before removal to another site a free graft research … in free flap transfers— B. R. Alford



Legal Definition of free

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen
b : enjoying civil and political liberty a free people
c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent StatesDeclaration of Independence
d : not subject to the control or domination of another
2 : made or done as a matter of choice and right : not compelled or restricted no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereofU.S. Constitution amend. I a free and voluntary confession
3 : relieved from or lacking a burden (as a lien or other encumbrance on title) a buyer in ordinary course of business…takes free of a security interest created by the buyer's sellerUniform Commercial Code
4 : not bound, confined, or detained by force free on bail
5a : having no trade restrictions
b : not subject to government regulation
c of foreign exchange : not subject to restriction or official control
6 : not costing or charging anything
for free
: without charge

Other Words from free

freely adverb


transitive verb
freed; freeing

Legal Definition of free (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to cause to be free
2 : to relieve or rid of what constrains, confines, restricts, or burdens

More from Merriam-Webster on free

Nglish: Translation of free for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of free for Arabic Speakers


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