free

1 of 3

adjective

freer; freest
1
: not costing or charging anything
a free school
a free ticket
2
a
: 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.
3
a
: 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
4
a
: 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.
5
a
: 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
6
a
: 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
8
a
: 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
9
a
: 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 seriesJ. 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
10
a
: 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 townHarvey Graham
f
: licentious
inexcusably free talk before the ladies
11
a(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
12
a
: 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 fightWinston Churchill
freeness noun

free

2 of 3

adverb

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

free

3 of 3

verb

freed; freeing; frees

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
Phrases
for free
: without charge

Did you know?

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.

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

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
Avatar: The Last Airbender premieres Thursday, Feb. 22, on Netflix. Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more. Nick Romano, EW.com, 21 Feb. 2024 Today's top stories: 🚨Get free alerts when news breaks. Harriet Ramos, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 21 Feb. 2024 But, fearing that renters may see Proposition 64 as a free pass to grow pot indoors, the Rental Housing Association of Sacramento Valley is encouraging landlords to specifically address marijuana in all leasing contracts. Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 21 Feb. 2024 Inbox Commerce And WhatsApp Initially a fast, free and secure messaging app to avoid SMS fees, WhatsApp has evolved into a platform for direct shopper engagement and commerce. Pratik Bhadra, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 Sign up to get the rest free, including news from around the globe and interesting ideas and opinions to know, sent to your inbox every weekday. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2024 The Photos Say Yes Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 9 Feb. 2024 Kershaw entered free agency for a third straight offseason, once again picking between a return to the Dodgers or a move to his hometown Texas Rangers. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2024 Google is offering a free two-month trial of Gemini Advanced to encourage people to try it out. Michael Liedtke, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024
Adverb
Mason being set free sparked a massive manhunt in Indiana. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, 27 Sep. 2023 In 2020, the space agency awarded Axiom Space up to $140 million to make at least one module to attach to the ISS, which c ould eventually be part of a new free-flying station. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Mar. 2023 Verlander helped Houston win the World Series for the second time in six seasons and won his third AL Cy Young Award before signing an $86.7 million, two-year contract with the free-spending Mets. San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Feb. 2023 Since late 2020, Xi’s administration has made clear its distaste for the free-wheeling capitalism that tech giants like Alibaba embodied. Anders Melin, Fortune, 17 Jan. 2023 But what came next was still to be expected — a year of free-falling. Curbed, 21 Dec. 2022 The art also depicted phalluses, free-standing or attached to human figures. Bybridget Alex, science.org, 7 Dec. 2022 Nearly all of its world map was a free-roaming open area, but the sections were still cordoned off from one another by way of a central hub town. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 18 Nov. 2022 One particularly stunning route will take you to Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado. Marissa Wolkenberg, Bon Appétit, 26 Sep. 2022
Verb
Singleton recalled his coach once screaming at him to set a screen to free Juzang for a shot. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2024 In honor of National Chili Day, Thursday, Feb. 22, Gold Star President and CEO Roger David gave 25 lucky customers free chili for a year. Haadiza Ogwude, The Enquirer, 23 Feb. 2024 As Kharas sees it, this vast sector of humanity – freed from many of the stresses of daily survival – has unprecedented power to shape the decisions of world leaders in politics and business alike. Erika Page, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 Feb. 2024 The proposal also would free three Palestinians now held in Israeli jails for each hostage released. John Bacon, USA TODAY, 22 Feb. 2024 The person responsible for finally freeing the dog was Martin Miller. Olivia Lloyd, Miami Herald, 22 Feb. 2024 Maddox was also hospitalized after being freed and was initially listed in critical condition, according to WTVJ. Abigail Adams, Peoplemag, 22 Feb. 2024 The negotiating framework would see three prisoners freed for each hostage — the same terms as the November pause. Karen Deyoung, Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2024 Since last May, US companies have announced more than 4,600 jobs cuts in order to free up resources to hire people with AI experience or because the technology replaced tasks, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Jo Constantz, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'free.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective, Adverb, and Verb

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near free

Cite this Entry

“Free.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/free. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

free

1 of 3 adjective
freer
ˈfrē-ər
; freest
ˈfrē-əst
1
a
: having liberty : not being a slave
free citizens
b
: not controlled by others : independent
a free country
a free press
2
a
: released or not suffering from something unpleasant or painful
free from worry
free from disease
b
: not bound or contained by or as if by force
you are free to leave
3
: having nothing that must be done instead
I'm free tomorrow night
4
a
: not blocked : clear
free space
b
: not being used or occupied
free time
5
: not fastened
the free end of the rope
6
: not cheap : generous
a free spender
7
: not costing or charging anything
free tickets
8
: not held back by fear or distrust
free expression of opinion
9
: not combined with something else
free oxygen
10
: able to be used alone as a meaningful unit of language
the word "hats" is a free form
11
: not restricted by or limited to the usual forms
free skating
freely adverb

free

2 of 3 verb
freed; freeing
: to make or set free

free

3 of 3 adverb
1
: in a free manner
2
: without charge

Medical Definition

free

adjective
freer; freest
1
a
: 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 notedH. G. Armstrong
2
a(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 transfersB. R. Alford

Legal Definition

free

1 of 2 adjective
1
a
: 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
5
a
: 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
freely adverb

free

2 of 2 transitive verb
freed; freeing
1
: to cause to be free
2
: to relieve or rid of what constrains, confines, restricts, or burdens

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