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 5 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

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 freeness (audio) \ noun

Verb

freer 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

With the addition of Davis prior to free agency, the Lakers have spent much of the past few weeks seeking to add pieces to put around their new star forward — and, of course, his new teammate LeBron James. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "'I'm a grown man': Lakers star Anthony Davis has no regrets about trade request," 15 July 2019 Arizona Coyotes General Manager John Chayka isn't a big believer in free agency, but his team still made one of the largest splashes through the first week of the 2019 offseason. Julia Stumbaugh, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes offseason evaluations: Phil Kessel was a big move, but was it big enough?," 15 July 2019 Much like the Nets, the Los Angeles Clippers emerged victorious against their city rival in free agency after all franchises involved had cleared significant space to make a run at the top stars. Candace Buckner, courant.com, "Nets, Clippers won free agency, but most important to their fans, Knicks, Lakers didn’t," 12 July 2019 Within the first week of free agency, three billion dollars’ worth of contracts had been signed. Thomas Beller, The New Yorker, "Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and the N.B.A. Free-Agent Kaleidoscope," 12 July 2019 Thunder general manager Sam Presti was tinkering with a potential title contender at the beginning of free agency two weeks ago. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "Russell Westbrook Plays for the Rockets. Why Not?," 12 July 2019 This summer’s free agency has created four new NBA power tandems, at least on paper: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, lately of the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, respectively, joined forces on the Brooklyn Nets. Sean Gregory, Time, "The NBA Is Officially Ridiculous," 12 July 2019 The team also signed his brother, Robin, during a frenetic free-agency period that began June 30. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After winning the MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo traveled to Greece to raise money for childhood cancer, and Bucks teammates tagged along," 11 July 2019 The beauty of free agency is everybody has a decision, everybody has a choice. Andy Nesbitt, For The Win, "Steph Curry opens up about Kevin Durant's exit, state of Warriors after big changes," 11 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

While volcanism isn't unheard of in the region, Mayotte has long remained silent, with its last eruption bursting free more than 4,000 years ago. National Geographic, "Strange waves rippled around Earth. Now we may know why.," 21 May 2019 The sperm disappear and are replaced by much larger, free-floating eggs. Anna Groves, Discover Magazine, "Human Gene Editing is Controversial. Shoukhrat Mitalipov Isn't Deterred," 15 Apr. 2019 The two-basin master bathroom features a double shower, a free-standing tub and heated towel racks. Lauren Beale, latimes.com, "Volleyball’s Karch Kiraly aces the sale of his San Clemente home," 17 June 2019 More than 300 influential community leaders helped raise over $520,000 to support Human Options’ services and programs aimed at ensuring every person and family in Orange County experiences safe and healthy relationships, free from fear. Coast Magazine, Orange County Register, "Human Options’ Serious Fun Gala raises $520,000 to help end domestic violence," 14 June 2019 Its terraced levels are decorated with a forest of free-standing light strips and backed by an LED screen. Kat Bein, Billboard, "San Holo Looks Back on 'Album1' Tour: 'A Chapter of My Life Translated Through Music'," 13 June 2019 Living in a world without insurance, free from all those claim forms and high deductibles, might sound like a little bit of paradise. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "Insuring Against Disaster," 20 Feb. 2019 Stock up on no-water antibacterial wipes, matches, disposable cutlery, plastic wrap and dry ice so that everyone can eat and drink, free from harm. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Hurricane Florence-proof your kitchen with these three tips," 13 Sep. 2018 Find out more about how Dan uses free salvaged and recycled materials to make his creative, whimsical homes below. Jenae Sitzes, Country Living, "This Cowboy Boot-Shaped Texas Home Is Every Cowgirl's Dream Home," 22 Mar. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Shortly after that tweet, Gallagher was released from the brig he had been held in and was freed for the duration of the case. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Navy SEAL Chief told jury deciding his sentence, “I’ve made mistakes”," 3 July 2019 The February plea deal that freed Taylor also has been criticized by others in the district attorney’s office. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Contra Costa DA’s number two resigns, says handling of murder cases ‘made me sick inside’," 2 July 2019 And another is to lessen reoffending: according to the APP, none of its graduates, once freed, has slipped up. The Economist, "Education gives Kenyan prisoners hope of redemption and release," 1 July 2019 Well, let’s face it, friends do lie, sometimes, but alcohol frees the tongue to tell the truth that’s in their hearts. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "Eleven tasty ways to celebrate 'Stranger Things' Season 3 in Indianapolis," 1 July 2019 Frazier president and CEO Penelope Peavler said stories of slaves, freed blacks and African Americans will be added to the table's library as they're confirmed. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, "'We can't forget': Kentucky is (slowly) recognizing the role of slaves in bourbon's legacy," 27 June 2019 Officials said freeing the whale was difficult because the rope had no visible loose ends. Emily Sweeney, BostonGlobe.com, "Rescuers free entangled humpback whale off Chatham," 27 June 2019 Now, though, RoboBee becomes RoboBee X-Wing, as Harvard researchers have added solar cells and an extra pair of wings, freeing the robot to blast off to a galaxy far, far away. Matt Simon, WIRED, "What Could Possibly Be Cooler Than RoboBee? RoboBee X-Wing," 26 June 2019 Gillman came on board in 1999 and over time focused on cheese-making, freeing his mom to tend to the farm and the herd. Deborah Hornblow, courant.com, "Boutique Farms: Creative And Resourceful Farmers Find Their Artisanal Niche," 25 June 2019

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

Statistics for free

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for free

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

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with free

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for free

Spanish Central: Translation of free

Nglish: Translation of free for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of free for Arabic Speakers

Comments on free

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