\ 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

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; 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

Adjective

freeness \ ˈfrē-​nəs How to pronounce freeness (audio) \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Former Auburn standout Josh Bynes is joining the Cincinnati Bengals via NFL free agency. The linebacker has agreed to a one-year contract with the Bengals, NFL Network reported on Tuesday. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "Linebacker Josh Bynes changes teams in AFC North," 25 Mar. 2020 His uncertain status heading into the ’19 season compelled the Cowboys to add defensive ends in free agency and the draft. David Moore, Dallas News, "Sources say Randy Gregory will soon petition for NFL reinstatement — and the Cowboys are ready to welcome him back," 23 Mar. 2020 The president secured legislation that will ensure Americans are able to be tested for free. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "List: 74 actions taken by Trump to fight virus and bolster economy," 23 Mar. 2020 The Washington Post is providing this story for free so that all readers have access to this important information about the coronavirus. Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn, Washington Post, "How you can help during the coronavirus outbreak," 21 Mar. 2020 The agreement with Gurley is the second significant move of free agency for the Falcons. Charles Odum, Houston Chronicle, "Source: Falcons agree to 1-year deal with Todd Gurley," 20 Mar. 2020 Minnesota’s StarTribune, for example, reported that a Duluth, Minn., distillery is making hand sanitizer and giving it out for free. Lissandra Villa, Time, "Jay Inslee Urges the Trump Administration to Treat the Coronavirus Response Like a War," 19 Mar. 2020 One of the most popular tools being discussed for these purposes is Zoom, an online video conference software which offers most basic functions for free. Sarah Emily Baum, Teen Vogue, "Distance Learning During Coronavirus: How It Works, Benefits and Challenges," 19 Mar. 2020 Similarly, all Katsuya locations will be giving 20 percent off for in-store pick-ups and free delivery through third-party partners. ... Ramona Saviss, The Hollywood Reporter, "How L.A. Restaurants Are Staying Afloat Amid Coronavirus," 19 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb New Yorkers and visitors walking along Wall Street might notice a free-standing 16-by-24-inch plaque installed a short walk away from where the 18th-century slave market once stood. Bettye Kearse, Time, "I Feared My Enslaved Ancestors Had Been Dishonored in Death—But the African Burial Ground in New York City Tells a Different Story," 24 Mar. 2020 Looming over the Duomo at nearly 280 feet, the free-standing tower is considered the most eloquent example of 14th-century Gothic architecture in the city, one that happens to be visible from every vantage point. Erica Firpo, Condé Nast Traveler, "16 Best Things to Do in Florence," 20 Mar. 2020 Several guests enviously eyed the free-standing hand sanitizer dispensers placed nearby; hand sanitizers have been as rare as white truffles these days. Ben Widdicombe, New York Times, "Mussels and Purell at the James Beard Dinner," 11 Mar. 2020 The state will also maintain a free-standing dorm that will house 150 low-risk inmates serving life without parole sentences. Washington Post, "Alabama to shutter aging, dilapidated prison," 29 Jan. 2020 The Senate is currently preoccupied with impeachment proceedings, and there’s little room on its legislative calendar this year to bring any free-standing bill to the floor for a vote. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "Senate bill would boost spending on Trump administration’s research priorities," 17 Jan. 2020 The deal, along with the 2017 acquisition of The Body Shop, has made Natura the world’s fourth largest free-standing beauty company, with 3,000 stores worldwide and 40,000 employees. Alan Murray, Fortune, "This Beauty Company Doesn’t Do Business in China," 8 Jan. 2020 Get live scoring and stats updates above and find out how to watch Pelicans and Lakers live for free below. oregonlive, "Los Angeles Lakers vs New Orleans Pelicans live stream: Score updates, TV channel, odds, watch LeBron James face Zion Williamson free online (2/25/2020)," 25 Feb. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb What Bopp is arguing The ordinances, Bopp argues, clash with the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. Crystal Hill, Indianapolis Star, "The fight against RFRA isn't over. Meet its conservative opponent.," 26 Mar. 2020 The Cards tried to answer, but Nwora suddenly couldn’t free himself from Rhoden’s coverage. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, "The 2020 NCAA tournament that could have been: National title showdown set," 23 Mar. 2020 Indianapolis released him on March 21, freeing him up to make a third trip to New England. Tim Bielik, cleveland, "Brian Hoyer reportedly returning to the Patriots: A look at his NFL career so far by the numbers," 23 Mar. 2020 When the craft’s digger got stuck in clumpy soil, the only way to free it? Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "How Garmin keeps pace with giant rivals such as Apple and Google," 19 Mar. 2020 Body positivity, fat activism, intuitive eating: all of these things are meant, in part, to free us from the tyranny of diet culture. Michelle Weber, Longreads, "The Hate Is Coming From Inside the House," 3 Mar. 2020 One man grabbed onto my hand…I freed myself and ran away. Amanat Khullar, Quartz India, "Religious zeal shattered Delhi’s lives and dreams. Religious zeal is now picking up the pieces, too," 28 Feb. 2020 His analysis implies that the history of the metropolis has been marked by one long struggle by ordinary citizens to free themselves from oppression. Tim Flannery, The New York Review of Books, "The First Mean Streets," 25 Feb. 2020 In the case of the bead, the optical tweezers could be used to levitate it, freeing it from contact with any surface. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Levitating sand escapes classical world, enters quantum ground state," 31 Jan. 2020

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

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

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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

27 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Free.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/free. Accessed 31 Mar. 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

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
\ 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.
\ 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

Comments on free

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