free·​wheel | \ ˈfrē-ˈ(h)wēl How to pronounce freewheel (audio) \

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

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Other Words from freewheel


freewheeler noun

Examples of freewheel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On the other side, the spokes meet the axle slightly off-center, while the gears (and the freewheel that allows them to rotate freely in only one direction) take up the space between there and the frame. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "How bicycles have changed in the last 25 years," 10 Nov. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In recent years, the space for freewheeling and irreverent programming on Channel One has shrunk, and the intensity of propaganda has grown. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, "The Kremlin’s Creative Director," 9 Dec. 2019 The workers said Google has been trying to upend its two-decade-old culture, marked by an at-times freewheeling workplace where, among other things, employees could challenge executives at weekly all-hands meetings. Greg Bensinger, Washington Post, "Ex-Google engineers, in federal filing, allege anti-union retaliation cost them their jobs," 6 Dec. 2019 In the jazz world, to record for ECM was to enter a community of the elect, bridging gaps between freewheeling European sophisticates and veteran American progressives. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Pristine Empire of ECM Records," 25 Nov. 2019 Last season’s team averaged 28.7 shots per game from 3-point range, fifth fewest in the NBA – an increase from finishing last in three of the previous four seasons – and nearly 17 tries fewer than freewheeling Houston. Mike Cook, Twin Cities, "Timberwolves shoot — and hit — more 3-pointers in exhibition victory," 13 Oct. 2019 Chefs Yoshi Yamada and Zeeshan Shah, along with longtime Logan Square restaurateur Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe), this summer opened a freewheeling Indian restaurant that seems to intentionally subvert expectations. Nick Kindelsperger,, "New Indian restaurant Superkhana subverts traditions: You can’t order rice, but there are flatbread tacos and butter chicken calzones," 9 Oct. 2019 Initially set off by a contentious extradition bill, the movement has morphed into a wider ideological battle sustained by freewheeling, liberal Hong Kong’s fears of an encroaching autocratic Chinese government. Time, "Hong Kong Democracy Activist Joshua Wong Disqualified From Upcoming Election," 29 Oct. 2019 However, if the entire Warren plan were enacted, America’s freewheeling system would suffer a severe shock. The Economist, "Elizabeth Warren wants to remake American capitalism," 24 Oct. 2019 Keep kids safe from poisonous plants: teach them not to graze Even if your dog is not in the front seat, but freewheeling it in back seat, there is a serious risk of injury to you both in a crash. Cathy M. Rosenthal,, "Driving with an unrestrained pet in the car is really dangerous," 20 Sep. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of freewheel


1899, in the meaning defined above


1899, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for freewheel

Time Traveler

The first known use of freewheel was in 1899

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Cite this Entry

“Freewheel.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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