\ 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 Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. The Economist, "Legends in lockdown The pandemic has accelerated the growth of e-sports," 27 June 2020 Up to 200 cats and 250 dogs can be housed in facilities that were designed to be stress-free for them. Kimi Robinson, The Arizona Republic, "New animal shelter opens in Phoenix. Here's how rescue dogs, cats could benefit from it," 27 June 2020 Attendance at all screenings in the series will be free for all and refreshments at the concessions will be provided by Black and brown-owned businesses such as Path Water, Pipcorn Popcorn and Partake Cookies. Keyaira Boone, Essence, "Michael B. Jordan Is Bringing Black Movies To Drive-Ins," 26 June 2020 This account will grow tax free for the rest of his life. Nathan Bachrach And Amy Wagner, The Enquirer, "Simply Money: Ways to help a grandchild save for the future," 24 June 2020 Tickets, which are free for essential workers, are on sale now. Lindsey Bahr, USA TODAY, "New Tribeca drive-in movie series brings 'Jaws,' 'Black Panther' back to big screen," 23 June 2020 The other 14 are likely to come from the minor league system or from free agents released by other teams. Dallas News, "What’s next for MLB? Evan Grant answers questions about a season unlike any other and what it means for the Rangers," 23 June 2020 Like the Thunder, the Pistons typically struggled to attract big-name free agents and likely will rely on the draft and trade market to remake their roster. Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, "Arn Tellem knows firsthand why Detroit Pistons GM Troy Weaver is a ‘great fit’," 19 June 2020 Buy 2, get 1 free for various video game purchases at Amazon. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "Apple’s AirPods Pro are down to a new low price on Amazon today," 16 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The Trump administration is barreling ahead with the president's border fence, KUNC in Arizona reports, which is now cutting across the San Pedro, the last free-flowing river in the Grand Canyon State. Mark Olalde, USA TODAY, "Climate Point: Big oil is headed back to court while Congress considers paying for its cleanup," 26 June 2020 But true to his free-flowing nature, Johnson didn’t love the calculated turn baseball took with analytics. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "Former Hoosier Micah Johnson finds voice as an artist," 25 June 2020 The growing population of outdoor, free-ranging cats poses an increasingly serious threat to biodiversity. Harper's Magazine, "Cat Ladies," 23 June 2020 Brooks broke free and took off with a stun gun but was shot. NBC News, "'When does it stop?' Slain man's family makes tearful plea," 16 June 2020 Brooks broke free and took off with a stun gun but was shot. Dallas News, "‘When does it stop?’ Slain man’s family makes tearful plea," 16 June 2020 Brooks broke free and took off with a stun gun but was shot. Russ Bynum, Anchorage Daily News, "‘When does it stop?’ Slain man’s family makes tearful plea," 16 June 2020 As for road trips, a free-wheeling approach probably isn’t a great idea, Levine says. Michelle Z. Donahue, National Geographic, "Pools? Movies? Restaurants? How parents can give kids a safe summer," 15 June 2020 Whereas those were attempts—sometimes robust, sometimes cynical—to establish a set of countervailing scientific institutions, the Galilean mode is a free-floating anti-institutionalism. Ari Schulman, The New Republic, "The Coronavirus and the Right’s Scientific Counterrevolution," 15 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb New records are set daily, and Abbott has brought back a ban on elective surgeries to free up beds. Washington Post, "The Latest: South Korea still coping with new virus clusters," 28 June 2020 Under increasing strain from the coronavirus, hospitals in Texas’ biggest cities have begun cutting back on nonemergency procedures at the behest of Gov. Greg Abbott, to free up additional bed space. Lauren Caruba, ExpressNews.com, "‘It’s going to last a while’: Influx of COVID-19 patients threatens to push San Antonio hospitals to the breaking point," 28 June 2020 The Volcker Rule was enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and the new changes could potentially free up billions in bank capital. Benzinga, Detroit Free Press, "Increasing COVID-19 cases and tariff tensions send a chill through markets," 27 June 2020 Abbott also halted elective surgeries in four Texas counties seeing the highest spikes in cases and hospitalizations, in an effort to free up hospital beds. Cassidy Morrison, Washington Examiner, "Governors pause reopening amid coronavirus surge," 25 June 2020 Played in two teams of seven, players must free a red car that is surrounded and boxed in by black cars. Sydney Bucksbaum, EW.com, "The Challenge: Total Madness recap: Kaycee makes her choice, Bayleigh takes it personally," 25 June 2020 Employees at Silvercrest — including the director of social services — told residents or family that the discharges were necessary to free beds for COVID-19 patients. Amy Julia Harris, BostonGlobe.com, "‘They just dumped him like trash’: Nursing homes evict vulnerable residents," 22 June 2020 Care homes also took lots of those rushed out of hospitals to free up beds, without the ability to test many of the new arrivals. The Economist, "An unfortunate case study The British state shows how not to respond to a pandemic," 20 June 2020 Are pastors going to help white Christians free their faith from privileged claims of whiteness? Daniel Burke, CNN, "This is a moment of reckoning on race for white Christians," 19 June 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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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

29 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Free.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/free. Accessed 8 Jul. 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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