free·​wheel | \ˈfrē-ˈ(h)wēl \

Definition of freewheel 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: a clutch fitted in the rear hub of a bicycle that permits the rear wheel to run on free from the rear sprocket when the pedals are stopped


freewheeled; freewheeling; freewheels

Definition of freewheel (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to roll along freely independent of a gear

2 : to move, live, or play freely or irresponsibly

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from freewheel


freewheeler noun

Examples of freewheel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This very specific strain of immigration hawkery — the fear of murder by an immigrant — is the reason Trump had a constituency in the early, freewheeling days of his campaign. Dara Lind, Vox, "Trump has made Mollie Tibbetts the latest martyr in his anti-immigrant crusade," 24 Aug. 2018 The former Homeland Security secretary and Marine Corps general made swift changes in both personnel and protocol, limiting the once-freewheeling environment surrounding the president. John Roberts, Fox News, "Trump asks John Kelly to stay as chief of staff through 2020, sources say," 31 July 2018 Trump digs at Pelosi, Waters, hints at Supreme Court thinking during freewheeling rally Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: The battle over the Supreme Court begins; Trump-Putin summit details to be revealed," 28 June 2018 But the truth is, summer is meant for freewheeling, ditching obligations (ideally!) and kicking back. New York Times, "Here’s Your Summer Hair Guide," 12 June 2018 Despite the kingdom’s wealth, businessmen would rather work in freewheeling Dubai than Riyadh. The Economist, "How to ensure Muhammad bin Salman’s reforms succeed," 23 June 2018 But what’s even more astonishing than the freewheeling setlists and the freewheeling attitude toward wading into the crowd, in this business, at this level, these days, is an 85-year-old performer who can still bring it. Théoden Janes, charlotteobserver, "Review: Willie Nelson got his much-anticipated do-over in Charlotte. So, how’d it go?," 21 June 2018 So Postecoglou was replaced by Bert van Marwijk, a man whose claim to fame is turning the freewheeling Dutch into a pragmatic, defense-first team. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "World Cup 2018: A Guide to Every Team," 12 June 2018 Rather than freewheeling with such a volatile asset, young fruits usually stockpile starch: millions of sugars threaded together into stable coils, like a botanical trust fund. Ali Bouzari, San Francisco Chronicle, "Housemade: The science behind the skillets at Miss Ollie’s in Oakland," 16 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'freewheel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of freewheel


1899, in the meaning defined above


1899, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about freewheel

Statistics for freewheel

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for freewheel

The first known use of freewheel was in 1899

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on freewheel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with freewheel

Comments on freewheel

What made you want to look up freewheel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!