\ 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



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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Benjamin, of Clifton Heights, replied that the event would be free. Hannah K. Sparling, The Enquirer, "A Black director wants to show his movie in neighborhood parks. One local park said no.," 10 May 2021 There's a verification process, but the service itself is free. Chris Gutierrez, Forbes, "Four Strategies For Gathering Data On Your Small Business's Website," 10 May 2021 Admission and parking are free, and some of the historic buildings will be open that day. Sam Boyer, cleveland, "Authors will sign their books in Brunswick June 6," 10 May 2021 At the clinic, medication, lab tests and screenings are free. Karina Bland, The Arizona Republic, "He promised his mother he would become a doctor and help the people who need it most," 9 May 2021 Even the CryptoPunk character portraits that some say could sell for as much as $9 million apiece at Christie’s were once free. Washington Post, "Crypto artists have been building a rebellious, underground community of outsiders for years. Now they’re making a living selling NFTs.," 8 May 2021 The event and parking are free, and shuttle service is also available. Anna Caplan, Dallas News, "Stars and Stripes will return with fireworks and more in Southlake Town Square," 7 May 2021 Here are spectator details regarding the scrimmage: Viewing the scrimmage is free. oregonlive, "A 2-for-1 Saturday at Reser Stadium: Get a COVID-19 vaccination shot, watch Oregon State’s spring football scrimmage," 7 May 2021 Facebook went as far as to threaten that Facebook and Instagram might no longer be free if users block tracking. Chris Smith, BGR, "Report shows Apple’s new iPhone anti-tracking feature is devastating for Facebook," 7 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Remote work may have diminished our free-flowing dialogues. Britton Bloch, Forbes, "Courageous Conversations Lead To Valuable Disruption," 10 May 2021 Cost is $85 for adults, $45 for children ages 11 and under and $20 extra for free-flowing Champagne. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Mother’s Day 2021: 15 San Diego brunch and dinner spots where you can celebrate Mom," 5 May 2021 Some snorkel in the emerald waters sheltered by spiky, grassy seaside rock outcroppings that invite free-roaming goats. Ralph Jennings, The Christian Science Monitor, "Orchid Island became Taiwan’s tourist hotspot. Does it want to be?," 3 May 2021 Wild horses and burros have been protected under federal law since 1971 and its the BLM job to manage free-roaming populations, mostly in Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Feds’ Utah horse sterilizations draw two lawsuits alleging inhumane treatment," 12 Dec. 2020 Long before the pandemic encouraged the travel sector to go virtual, free-roaming or open-world games — where players can move about more or less without restraint — were taking us into fantastic, surrealistic times and places. Payal Dhar, Washington Post, "Can gaming satisfy our pandemic thirst for travel and adventure?," 3 Sep. 2020 The Jazz’s 101-96 loss Saturday was a pretty decent facsimile of the teams’ first matchup, as Minnesota’s physicality and switching took Utah out of its free-flowing, ball-movement-centric attack. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah Jazz fall victim to Wolves’ aggressive, swarming, switching defense for a second time," 24 Apr. 2021 Others worry free-flowing money would encourage poor people to quit their jobs or spend it unwisely., "Cambridge to begin guaranteed income program for poor families," 15 Apr. 2021 On this March evening, Harris welcomed into his rented townhouse for what turned into two hours of a free-flowing conversation that detailed his rise from a challenging childhood in California to the pinnacle of college football. Michael Casagrande |, al, "The story of Najee Harris’ childhood, first brush with football fame," 12 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Doug was able to free himself, grabbed a rifle and shot Nance. CBS News, "After 4 decades, Montana shooting victim is identified through DNA: "Our family is broken-hearted"," 11 May 2021 Each recent turn through the Orioles’ rotation, manager Brandon Hyde lamented that Baltimore couldn’t provide Jorge López a comfortable to try to free himself of his fifth-inning demons. Nathan Ruiz,, "Trey Mancini, Ryan Mountcastle homer to back hurdle-clearing Jorge López in Orioles’ 4-1 win over Red Sox," 10 May 2021 To free himself, he was forced to amputate his right arm. Edmund Vallance, Los Angeles Times, "How learning to canyoneer made me grateful for gravity and the wonders of life," 7 May 2021 If that's the case, there's no point in torturing yourself, and moving on will free you up to become available for someone who's actually right for you. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "17 Tricks to Help You Get Over Your Crush," 6 May 2021 Hospital staff brought Dorian straight in and started working to free him. David Williams, CNN, "Tennessee 2-year-old who got stuck in a wooden barrel rescued by firefighters," 5 May 2021 Practice self-compassion to free yourself from feelings of shame. Svetlana Whitener, Forbes, "Practice Self-Compassion To Overcome Self-Destructive Shame," 28 Apr. 2021 But even the attempt at translation suggests a deepening of respect for them—and a willingness to free ourselves from our human preconceptions and prejudices. Philip Ball, The New Yorker, "The Challenges of Animal Translation," 27 Apr. 2021 In an interview last week, Mars characterized the sale as an attempt to free himself from administrative duties and to secure greater resources for his staff. New York Times, "SiriusXM Is Buying ‘99% Invisible,’ and Street Cred in Podcasting," 26 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about free

Time Traveler for free

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for free

Last Updated

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Free.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for free



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



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

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



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


\ 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

Keep scrolling for more



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

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

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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