\ 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 combinationerror-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 upfree up space on the hard drive
2 obsolete : banish

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Other Words from free


freeness \ ˈfrē-​nəs How to pronounce freeness (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Go to Fox Nation to start a free trial and watch the extensive library from Tomi Lahren, Pete Hegseth, Abby Hornacek, Laura Ingraham, Ainsley Earhardt, Greg Gutfeld, Judge Andrew Napolitano and many more of your favorite Fox News personalities. Fox News, "Why New Hampshire may be the last stop for Elizabeth Warren's campaign: Pollsters break it down," 11 Feb. 2020 Sanders, meanwhile, has been free to do what Sanders does -- mostly though not entirely untouched by his opponents. Rick Klein And, ABC News, "The Note: Broad field means race for narrow slices in New Hampshire," 11 Feb. 2020 With her team holding a 1-point lead with 5.1 seconds left on the clock Monday night, Ariana Vanderhoop stepped to the free-throw line with a back-and-forth game hanging in the balance. Seamus Mcavoy, BostonGlobe.com, "Cathedral girls’ basketball holds off St. Mary’s in battle of top-five teams," 10 Feb. 2020 Jared Butler, Matt Mayer and MaCio Teague buried all six of their free-throw attempts while Texas missed nine straight shots. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Reeling and short-handed, Texas falls to No. 1 Baylor," 10 Feb. 2020 However, Michigan scored its final 12 points at the free-throw line as the Spartans were forced to stop the clock to try and mount a comeback. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Cassius Winston knows how Michigan was able to 'make it hard for me.' Can MSU counter?," 8 Feb. 2020 Key to the game Efficiency Xavier's back to playing with toughness and togetherness, but the Musketeers still need to clean up the turnovers and free-throw shooting. Adam Baum, Cincinnati.com, "Xavier basketball's going for a Big East win streak Saturday against the Providence Friars," 7 Feb. 2020 Mostly because there usually isn’t an obvious replacement available via free agency or trade. Steven Ruiz, For The Win, "Why the 49ers need to think about trading Jimmy Garoppolo," 4 Feb. 2020 Today, Belvin is thirty-five, cancer- free, and the mother of two children. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Health," 1 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Get live scoring and stats updates above and find out how to watch Rockets and Celtics live for free below. oregonlive, "Boston Celtics vs Houston Rockets: Live score updates, TV channel, odds, how to watch free live stream online," 12 Feb. 2020 Want to see our beautiful national parks free of charge? oregonlive, "National Parks will be free for 5 days in 2020," 24 Dec. 2019 Large stretches of Arctic waters, including the Chukchi, Barents and Kara seas, remained ice free far later into the fall than usual. Henry Fountain, New York Times, "2019 Was Second Hottest Year on Record," 8 Jan. 2020 Red Rock State Park, 4050 Red Rock Loop Road, Sedona. $7, $4 for ages 7-13, free for age 7 and younger. 928-282-6907, azstateparks.com/red-rock. Kimi Robinson, azcentral, "New Year's hikes around Arizona: Here are 5 fun ways to welcome 2020," 30 Dec. 2019 The free-standing deli’s last day at 1575 Central St. will be Dec. 31. Josie Sexton, The Know, "12-year-old LoHi deli packs up and moves in with another restaurant," 25 Dec. 2019 The most mysterious item is a segment of free-standing concrete wall with a narrow, meandering ledge. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: An ambitious collage of works by regional photographers," 13 Dec. 2019 These and other recommendations come from Jason, a free-standing group based in McLean, Virginia, that has advised the government on national security issues since the early days of the Cold War. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "U.S. scientists who hide foreign ties should face research misconduct sanctions, panel says," 11 Dec. 2019 The holiday event features live entertainment, crafts, free hot chocolate and cookies, inflatables and, of course, Santa Claus. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "With rainy forecast, Jeffersonville cancels its Holiday Parade, moves Light Up Jeff inside," 27 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Retiring planes would free up funds--as well as spare parts--for the air fleet that remains. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Air Force Could Cut Loose Tons of Older Planes," 8 Feb. 2020 If approved, the shift would free up $40 billion in capital held in reserve that the banks could instead put to work in profitable activities, according to Kelleher. David J. Lynch, Washington Post, "Trump’s China deal was pitched as boon for working class, but he celebrated with Wall Street titans," 20 Jan. 2020 Even before bonuses, the departure or potential departure of both Inge and DeBoer would free up more than $1 million in salary committed to assistants last season. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Tom Allen's bet on Nick Sheridan begins fascinating offseason for IU football," 9 Jan. 2020 The changes will free up €6 billion ($6.6 billion) over 10 years that Audi plans to invest in the cars of the future. Charles Riley, CNN, "Audi cuts 7,500 jobs to free up money for electric cars," 26 Nov. 2019 And Callahan’s status is why allowing Harris to walk, even though that would free up a lot of salary cap space, is too big of a gamble to take. Ryan O’halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos Mailbag: When will organization admit that John Elway is the biggest problem?," 26 Nov. 2019 Working ahead can free up oven space on the holiday, of course. Becky Krystal, chicagotribune.com, "Thanksgiving tips to keep everyone happy and sane at your holiday gathering," 25 Nov. 2019 The cuts would have freed up $2.36 million in the budget. Aubrey Wieber, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage Assembly OKs $540M budget with boost in homeless services and more police," 21 Nov. 2019 If passed, this act would free our young, gifted and Black students to begin their lives without being hobbled by decades of debt repayment. Kara Stevens, Essence, "What Will It Take To Rehabilitate Black Wealth?," 12 Nov. 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


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

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Learn More about free

Time Traveler for free

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for free

Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Free.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freeness. Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for free

How to pronounce free (audio)

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

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for free

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with free

Spanish Central: Translation of free

Nglish: Translation of free for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of free for Arabic Speakers

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