free·​lance | \ ˈfrē-ˌlan(t)s How to pronounce freelance (audio) \

Definition of freelance

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : of, relating to, or being a freelancer : independent a freelance writer/photographer freelance careers working on a freelance basis
b : done by a freelancer freelance writing/photography
2 : not sponsored by or affiliated with an organization or authority a freelance army The Seoul government reacted sternly to [Sun Myung] Moon's freelance diplomacy, accusing him of "causing a split in national opinion."— Paul Blustein


freelanced; freelancing; freelances

Definition of freelance (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to act or work as a freelancer She freelances for a local newspaper. … after graduating from the Philadelphia College of Art, he [John Mecray] freelanced as an illustrator and taught drawing classes at his alma mater.Nautical World

transitive verb

: to produce as a freelancer For a while, as he looked about for another book subject, Mr. [Tracy] Kidder freelanced articles for the Atlantic Monthly magazine.— Edwin McDowell


plural freelances

Definition of freelance (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : a person who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer : freelancer … the 42-year-old writer, who is now working on a book about Evelyn Waugh and his circle, described himself as a full-time freelance.— Herbert Mitgang
2 usually free lance plural free lances
a : a mercenary soldier especially of the Middle Ages : condottiere
b : a person who acts independently without being affiliated with or authorized by an organization (such as a political party) ran for office as a political free lance "Have you been making your addresses as a free lance or under the auspices of the Speakers' Bureau … ?" she was asked.— Edwin L. James

Other Words from freelance


freelance adverb

Examples of freelance in a Sentence

Adjective I wrote a freelance article for a nature magazine.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The freelance journalist's parents have pleaded with the Biden administration and previous administrations to take action and initiate diplomatic talks to bring their son home. Sara Cook, CBS News, 10 Dec. 2021 Mitchell will continue her existing work as a freelance journalist and as Nordic and U.K. delegate for the San Sebastian International Film Festival. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 3 Dec. 2021 Other members of Fire Twitter—including Sarah Stierch, a freelance journalist who tweets fire information for counties north of the Bay Area—fill out what has turned into an informal emergency alert system. Boone Ashworth, Wired, 2 Dec. 2021 Kenosha police believe a freelance journalist with NBC News tried photographing jurors, but the network denied any such attempt. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 18 Nov. 2021 Loren Braunohler is a freelance journalist, photographer and mom of four. Loren Braunohler, CNN, 10 Nov. 2021 Upward of 3,500 people were in attendance, according to Louis Amestoy, a freelance journalist who was at the event. Fox News, 24 Oct. 2021 Kara Cutruzzula, a freelance journalist, knows things take a while to percolate. Geri Stengel, Forbes, 29 Sep. 2021 Sasha Abramsky, 49, a freelance journalist in Sacramento who traveled to Iceland this summer, paid $600 a week for a four-wheel-drive SUV. Washington Post, 16 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On issues from health care to religious liberty and beyond, there is room for justices across the political spectrum to freelance. Joel Mathis, The Week, 1 July 2021 Not coincidentally, the number of Americans who freelance at least part-time grew 11% to 59 million between 2014 and 2020. Noah Lang, Fortune, 27 Dec. 2021 Mayfield and Beckham had yet to develop strong trust, partially because Beckham had a tendency to freelance at times, which caused Mayfield to hesitate and thus miss opportunities. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, 9 Nov. 2021 Though unconventional by nature, Nix’s ability to freelance — and thrive — when things break down could play to Auburn’s advantage on Saturday afternoon. Tom Green |, al, 7 Oct. 2021 But Callahan said the state law does not target the press, and applies more broadly to freelance writers and photographers who submit their work to the news media or other publications. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 6 Oct. 2021 How will this shift to freelance work impact the overall job market? Kathy Caprino, Forbes, 6 July 2021 After studying and practicing using the camera on her own, Andre submitted her work to the New York Daily News, which led her to freelance with the New York Post. Cheryl Robinson, Forbes, 23 May 2021 Of those that stay employees, a good amount will freelance on the side. Matthew Mottola, Forbes, 19 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That’s the view of Albert Azis-Clauson, founder of freelance platform UnderPinned who predicts that businesses will increasingly use the growth of remote working to create hybrid teams where freelancers and employers are interchangeable. Alison Coleman, Forbes, 4 Jan. 2022 But none of those shows stayed on the air for long, and by the early 1960s she was best known as a very busy freelance guest. New York Times, 31 Dec. 2021 Amy Harris, a freelance photojournalist, argues the subpoena violates her First Amendment rights. Amy Nakamura, USA TODAY, 17 Dec. 2021 An Indiana freelance photojournalist who documented the attack on the U.S. Capitol has filed a lawsuit seeking to block House investigators from confiscating her cellphone records. Sarah Nelson, The Indianapolis Star, 17 Dec. 2021 Kathy Kristof, the creator of job review site, writes for the L.A. Times about the best and worst of the side jobs, freelance gigs and ways to make a little extra cash. Los Angeles Times, 15 Dec. 2021 Jeremy Portje, a veteran freelance photojournalist, was arrested on Monday, charged with two misdemeanors and a felony related to resisting arrest, then released on $15,000 bail, his defense attorney Charles Dresow told The Chronicle. Lauren Hepler, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Dec. 2021 His earnings as a freelance enforcer paid Amelia’s college tuition. Washington Post, 3 Dec. 2021 Maya is a freelance attorney who, after a minor setback, has been living in the apartment above her parents’ garage and using the Casillas Panaderia as her unofficial office for the past couple of years. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 20 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'freelance.' 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 freelance


1891, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1902, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1819, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

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The first known use of freelance was in 1819

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Freelance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for freelance



English Language Learners Definition of freelance

: earning money by being hired to work on different jobs for short periods of time rather than by having a permanent job with one employer also : done or produced by a freelance worker

More from Merriam-Webster on freelance

Nglish: Translation of freelance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of freelance for Arabic Speakers


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