free

adjective
\ 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

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 up free 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

For all the free money coming Tesla’s way, Musk may want to consider whether his sacrosanct technology is at risk. Washington Post, "Come On, China. Tesla’s Just a Shiny Object," 18 Sep. 2019 Bring used car seats to the service desk at 4,000 participating stores and get the free gift card and use it toward items for baby. Doreen Christensen, sun-sentinel.com, "Free $30 gift card at Walmart car seat trade-in event," 17 Sep. 2019 At some point within the last five years, the child was enrolled at the Excel Center — a free tuition high school for adults, according to WLFI News 18. Robyn Merrett, PEOPLE.com, "Parenting Author & Husband Accused of Changing Daughter's Age from 8 to 22, Moving Countries Without Her," 17 Sep. 2019 Conservative and free-market groups have been asked to attend a formal announcement of the rollback set for Wednesday afternoon at Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington. NBC News, "Trump administration set to end California's ability to regulate auto emissions," 17 Sep. 2019 Critics say, however, that this would leave Northern Ireland as a de facto part of the EU and its free-trade area, and in the process fragment the United Kingdom. BostonGlobe.com, "There have been few outward signs of progress to suggest the two sides will find a way to sort out the thorniest of issues — the question of how to handle the Irish border in a post-Brexit Europe — and European negotiators are still waiting for the British government to present a new plan.," 17 Sep. 2019 Some fans even drop off free produce for the restaurant to use by the entrance. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "This Incredible Brewton, Alabama Restaurant Is Donations Only," 17 Sep. 2019 Family festival: Cleveland Baptist Church will have a free family fun festival 6-9 p.m. Sept. 27 at the church, 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn. Carol Kovach, cleveland.com, "Tri-C’s Encore Campus, Neighborhood Scholars programs enrich older adults: Sun Postings," 17 Sep. 2019 One of the world’s largest free-standing rock towers, Castleton sways like a skyscraper in response to deep vibrations in the earth. Joanna Klein, New York Times, "Taking the Pulse of a Sandstone Tower in Utah," 17 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

The free-standing collection of eateries at Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade once was stocked with the likes of McDonald’s and Subway. Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times, "They can’t all be Grand Central Market: Does L.A. have too many food halls?," 12 Sep. 2019 Rimel’s Rotisserie, Cardiff The last free-standing Rimel’s Rotisserie will close its doors Monday night , capping at 26-year restaurant career for co-founders Matt and Jackie Rimel. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Three North County restaurants to bow out this weekend," 30 Aug. 2019 Posenenske’s most important works were free-standing pipes, made of sheet steel or cardboard, that look almost exactly like commercial air ducts. Julianne Mcshane, New York Times, "Labor Day Art Guide: Summer Shows to See Before They Close," 29 Aug. 2019 The master suite has been updated with a free-standing soaking tub and a circular shower. Los Angeles Times, "Hot Property: John Stamos joins the growing celebrity crowd in gated Hidden Hills," 17 Aug. 2019 The master suite has been updated with a free-standing soaking tub and a circular shower. Los Angeles Times, "Hot Property: John Stamos joins the growing celebrity crowd in gated Hidden Hills," 17 Aug. 2019 This is the sixth free-standing store in the state and will offer men’s and women’s leather goods, accessories, fragrance, travel and publishing goods. Jane Stueckemann, Houston Chronicle, "Fast-casual Teriyaki Madness restaurant coming to The Woodlands," 8 Aug. 2019 The master suite has been updated with a free-standing soaking tub and a circular shower. Los Angeles Times, "Robert Byrd-designed home once owned by Ron Howard hits the market in Encino," 8 Aug. 2019 The exact location of the pop-up wasn’t immediately clear, but a Glossier representative said the store would consist of eight free-standing houses. Jaclyn Reiss, BostonGlobe.com, "Cult favorite Glossier is opening a pop-up makeup shop in Boston through October," 30 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The victim freed herself and ran back to her room, asking her roommate and a friend to stay with her that night, the report says. Kc Baker, PEOPLE.com, "Fla. Sex Assault Suspect Is Released Without Bond After Attorney Claims He’s ‘High-Achieving’," 13 Sep. 2019 That strategy freed up other officers working their regular shifts to concentrate on other parts of those neighborhoods that needed attention, police sources have said. Gregory Pratt, chicagotribune.com, "Mayor Lori Lightfoot says city ‘can’t afford’ current police OT costs," 9 Sep. 2019 Wear your love for candy corn on your back and free up your hands to carry another bag when that one gets full. Michele Filon, Woman's Day, "Candy Corn Treasure," 9 Sep. 2019 To avoid this, try breathable knits and free yourself from starchy poplins and stiff denim. Vogue, "Summer’s Hottest Month is Here, How to Beat the Heat Without Wearing a Dress," 2 Aug. 2019 The government said increasing rapid deportations would free up detention space and ease strains on immigration courts, which face a backlog of more than 900,000 cases. Reuters, The Mercury News, "U.S. to expand rapid deportation nationwide with sweeping new rule," 22 July 2019 That would free up many parking spaces in the city's remaining decks for short-term use by shoppers, diners, medical patients and the clients of downtown professionals, Gunter said. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Video reveals fiery exchange at Birmingham city commission meeting," 18 July 2019 The Wisconsin Innocence Project helped free him in 2009 after a panel of forensic experts called the dentists' conclusions in Stinson's case unfounded and when DNA tested from the victim's clothing did not match Stinson. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Settlement calls for Milwaukee to pay $7.5 million to man convicted based on bogus bite mark evidence," 11 July 2019 New research suggests the insects charge into spiderwebs to rescue their ensnared nestmates, sometimes ripping the silk apart to free them. Alex Fox, Science | AAAS, "Top stories: The science of false confessions, transforming blood types, and Brazil’s war on drugs," 14 June 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

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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Learn More about free

Statistics for free

Last Updated

26 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for free

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

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More Definitions for free

free

adjective

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

free

adjective
\ 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.

free

adjective
\ 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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free

adjective

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with free

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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