free

adjective
\ 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 setting the slave free
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

free

adverb

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

free

verb
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

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Other Words from free

Adjective

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

Choose the Right Synonym for free

Adjective

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

Verb

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective McDonald made two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and her three free throws in the final minute gave the Wildcats a last chance to win when Arizona forced a shot clock turnover with six seconds to play. Jim Vertuno, ajc, "Overlooked Arizona refused to be counted out until last shot," 5 Apr. 2021 Summer will be here before long, and youngsters, released from the rigors of school work, will be set free for a few weeks to do, well, the options are many. Byron Tate, Arkansas Online, "City offers a plethora of summer activities," 4 Apr. 2021 Silver Creek then turned the ball over, but Leo gave it right back and Northern made one of two free throws with 13 seconds left. Kyle Neddenriep, The Indianapolis Star, "Silver Creek wraps up a second Class 3A state title in three years with a wild finish," 4 Apr. 2021 After two free throws by Xavier, Brown missed a desperation 3-pointer from beyond half court as time expired which ended the game. David J. Kim, The Courier-Journal, "EKU basketball's late surge falls short in overtime against Xavier," 4 Apr. 2021 Jaquez’s two free throws tied it at 81 with 43 seconds left. BostonGlobe.com, "Take it to the bank: Gonzaga-UCLA men’s semifinal was an instant classic," 4 Apr. 2021 Jaquez's two free throws in the closing minutes tied it at 81. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Final Four: Gonzaga survives UCLA's upset bid in overtime thriller to stay perfect, reach men's national title game," 4 Apr. 2021 DeRozan is hitting a career-best 88.0 percent of his free throws to rank 17th in the league while averaging 6.6 attempts per game. Tom Orsborn, San Antonio Express-News, "Spurs legend Manu Ginobili pushes Coffee Gang merchandise," 3 Apr. 2021 Connaughton started in place of Antetokounmpo and scored nine points in 31 minutes, but his free throws at the end of the game sealed the victory. Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks 129, Kings 128: Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez help make up for Giannis Antetokounmpo's absence," 3 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Gonzaga’s free-flowing offense was struck down in the nightcap by UCLA, which slogged down the game enough to get it to overtime. BostonGlobe.com, "After pandemic cancelled their December game, Baylor and Gonzaga finally meet — and this time for all the marbles," 4 Apr. 2021 Of course, free-floating confusion has been a feature of the pandemic since its early days more than a year ago. NBC News, "Pandemic isn't over, but there's hope — and confusion," 18 Mar. 2021 Wikipedia is the most massive centralized collection of knowledge in human history, a bolster against misinformation, and a free-floating library, run by an army of unseen volunteers. Jenny Singer, Glamour, "The Women of Wikipedia Are Writing Themselves Into History," 26 Jan. 2021 The hotel’s one-, two- and three-bedroom residences serve as personal free-standing beach homes with their own private entrances, kitchens, in-room laundry and more. Mike Espindle, Forbes, "Spring Sailing Plans? Nantucket Reopens For Boaters," 18 Mar. 2021 Either way, the fact that the planet may be so heavily hydrated does not, alas, mean much for the possibility of Martian life, since the water molecules are entrained in the rocks and clay, not percolating in free-standing underground pools. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "Mars Has Much More Water Than Previously Known—But There's a Catch," 16 Mar. 2021 A couple of years ago, Tesla began selling its electric cars directly to consumers in high-end shopping malls in lieu of free-standing dealerships. Randy Tucker, The Enquirer, "What will happen to Greater Cincinnati's malls? Creative reuses of shopping mall spaces," 11 Mar. 2021 The revelation by Kaster stands to boost the mounting push after a half-century to remove the dam, restore the Ocklawaha River and resurrect a free-flowing system from Silver Springs to the Atlantic Ocean. Kevin Spear, orlandosentinel.com, "Rodman Dam dangers hidden by authorities, Ocala lawyer asserts," 10 Mar. 2021 On the first floor, the free-flowing layout led Reynal to a palette that was somewhat unconventional for a family who typically embraces color. Laura Fenton, Better Homes & Gardens, "Layers of Pattern and Color Add Standout Style to a Previously Plain Home," 9 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Now: Playing off the ball once Bernard took over as the primary backup point guard helped free Singleton for more open looks. Los Angeles Times, "You say you want an evolution? Look at how far UCLA’s players have come," 2 Apr. 2021 Most folks know the basic rules of spring-cleaning: Decrease clutter, mop, dust, and completely free your home of the previous season's filth. Jorie Nicole Mcdonald, Southern Living, "How To Spring Clean Your Kitchen Like a Pro," 1 Apr. 2021 An unusually high tide Monday helped partially free the giant cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, "Monday Sunrise Briefing: Is Suez Canal megaship a trend too far?," 29 Mar. 2021 In a statement, Evergreen said a salvage team that the ship’s owner assembled is continuing to clear sand and mud around the ship’s bow in order to try and free the vessel during high tide. WSJ, "Suez Canal Blockage Forces Operators to Reroute Ships," 26 Mar. 2021 The postal chief also is looking to Congress to pass legislation that would free the U.S. Postal Service of its prefunding mandate for retiree health care, which costs nearly $5 billion a year. Washington Post, "For Louis DeJoy, USPS plan a reflection of hard choices and new realities," 23 Mar. 2021 Packing the right weekender bag can also help determine just how stress-free your trip is. Mili Godio, NBC News, "The best weekender bags of 2021 and how to pick the right one," 23 Mar. 2021 A few years later, Facebook urged sites to invest massively in video—and many obliged, firing writers to free up budgets for their pivots to video. Rob Pegoraro, Forbes, "Facebook Wants To Put News Back On Its Friends List," 19 Mar. 2021 Listen to free, live music performances 6-9 p.m. April 10-16 and 18-22; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. April 11 and 18; and 9 p.m.-12 a.m. April 17 at Eden Bar. Kathleen Christiansen, orlandosentinel.com, "30th annual Florida Film Festival lineup revealed," 18 Mar. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of free

Adjective

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

Adverb

1559, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

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

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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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Statistics for free

Last Updated

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Free.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/free. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for free

free

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of free

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: not costing any money
: not held as a slave or prisoner
: not physically held by something

free

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of free (Entry 2 of 3)

: in a free way
: without charge : at no cost

free

verb

English Language Learners Definition of free (Entry 3 of 3)

: to release (a person or animal) from a prison, cage, etc.
: to release (someone or something) from being physically held or blocked
: to cause or allow (someone or something) to stop having or being affected by something unpleasant, painful, or unwanted

free

adjective
\ 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

free

verb
freed; freeing

Kids Definition of free (Entry 2 of 3)

: to let go or set free

free

adverb

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.

free

adjective
\ 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

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free

adjective

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
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on free

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for free

Nglish: Translation of free for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of free for Arabic Speakers

Comments on free

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