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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The evidence-free accusation that illegitimate moneyed or foreign interests are corrupting her opponents and dictating U.S. policy is her modus operandi. Elliot Kaufman, WSJ, "Omar and the Conspiracy Democrats," 10 Mar. 2019 With 67 residences, wraparound terraces, and column-free walls of floor-to-ceiling glass, the building offers expansive views of New York City—something a condo built in 2019 cannot be without. Samantha Swenson, ELLE Decor, "Interior Designer Cyril Vergniol Says Goodbye to Cookie-Cutter Apartments," 8 Mar. 2019 Doing so will enable other chip makers in the USB-PG to build Thunderbolt 3 silicon royalty-free. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "The new USB4 spec promises a lot: Thunderbolt 3 support, 40Gbps bandwidth, and less confusion," 5 Mar. 2019 Step 7: Display your bouquet in a cool, draft-free area. Carly Orleach, Woman's Day, "How to Make Fresh Flowers Last Longer," 15 Feb. 2019 For Risso, the curious twists of the mind are our bulwark against anything proscribed or preordained; our brains and our passions will, in his view, set us free. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The Top Shows of Milan Fashion Week Fall 2019," 25 Feb. 2019 Sugarfina: Buy one, get one free on all Valentine’s Day cubes in-store. Tiffany Dodson, SELF, "The Best Presidents’ Day 2019 Sales," 14 Feb. 2019 In an emergency, the US Air procedures call for the copilot to take the controls while the captain makes the decisions, free from the mechanical burden of flying the plane—this is called Pilot Monitoring, or PM, in aviation parlance. Allen St. John, Popular Mechanics, "What Went Right: Revisiting Captain "Sully" Sullenberger and the Miracle on the Hudson," 15 Jan. 2019 After intense backlash, Logitech ended up replacing Link devices for free. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Logitech disables local access on Harmony Hubs, breaks automation systems [Update]," 19 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

The city is giving as many immigrants as possible attorneys in court, free of charge. Jillian Weinberger, Vox, "Deportation without representation," 9 Nov. 2018 Most of the stores offer general merchandise but some are free-standing pharmacies or optical services locations. Becky Yerak, WSJ, "Retailer Shopko Enters Chapter 11 Bankruptcy," 16 Jan. 2019 The last one features a $4,700 free-standing tub from Kohler as the centerpiece of the post, which was sponsored by the kitchen-and-bath brand. Elisa Lipsky-karasz, WSJ, "Gwyneth Paltrow Wants to Convert You," 4 Dec. 2018 Just as important, though, is the fact that Mr. Sondheim is and has always been a theatrical composer, not a creator of free-standing songs. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "Learning to Love Stephen Sondheim," 28 Nov. 2018 Curved stone walls, a free-standing cone fireplace, and a circular kitchen island add to the midcentury-modern style. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Midcentury honeymoon crash pad of Elvis and Priscilla Presley wants $3.2M," 16 Oct. 2018 With 99 percent of the Pantanal privately owned by ranches, free-ranging cattle are gobbling up all the natural grass. Adam Popescu, National Geographic, "These Fish Keep Forests Alive—And Fishing Threatens Them," 12 June 2018 Some dispute the number but wildlife experts agree that free-roaming cats can do serious damage, especially to sensitive ecosystems. Patty Khuly, miamiherald, "Are our pooping pets bad for the environment? | Miami Herald," 26 Apr. 2018 Some historians think the large circle of free-standing stones was once a solar calendar used to track the seasons. Justin Grieser, Washington Post, "Summer solstice is Thursday — 5 things to know about the longest day of the year," 20 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Honnold, 33, is the first person to ever free solo the iconic rock formation, accomplishing it in just under four hours. Amy Marturana, SELF, "'Free Solo' Star Alex Honnold Explains How He Got Into the Terrifying Sport of Free Solo Climbing," 26 Feb. 2019 Breaking the rules of traditional design, Troy was able to free his creations from aesthetic boundaries while exploring new techniques through the use of these evocative materials. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "A Bold and Sculptural New Furniture Collection Inspired by the Basics," 26 Feb. 2019 The Saudi delegation signed $20 billion in investment deals and vowed to free thousands of Pakistani prisoners in Saudi custody. Ashok Sharma, The Seattle Times, "Saudi crown prince backs India’s fight against terrorism," 20 Feb. 2019 After a joint United States-Belgian mission known as Operation Dragon Rouge to free the hostages, the Simba rebels were defeated. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "That Time a CIA Spyplane Had to Dodge a Spear During the Cold War," 14 Jan. 2019 The appellate court’s president ruled that there were no legal grounds to free Lula. The Economist, "Politics this week," 12 July 2018 In his inimitable fashion, Musk started tossing out fresh ideas for ways to free the boys, chatting with his followers. Wendy Dent, WIRED, "The Engineering Behind Elon Musk's Bid to Save Thailand's Cave Boys," 11 July 2018 The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford has brought a traveling exhibit about the movement to free the Soviet Jews in the 1960s to the Mandell JCC's Chase Family Gallery. Michael Walsh, Courant Community, "Soviet Jew Movement Exhibit Comes To Mandell JCC," 11 July 2018 The difficult rescue operation took more than a week to free the entire team. USA TODAY, "The two words we've waited for from Thailand: 'Everyone safe'," 10 July 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about free

Statistics for free

Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for free

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up free? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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