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 Is Nora From Queens, where the Asian American family doesn't have to mean strife and compromise, but unconditional encouragement and freewheeling fun. Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: 'Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens' and the Freshness of Angst-Free Asian Americans," 26 Feb. 2020 But the movie, for all its retrograde politics and wham-bam machismo, can also be slick, silly fun — a giddy exercise in freewheeling nihilism, played to the hilt. Leah Greenblatt,, "Guy Ritchie gets his gangster ya-yas out again in The Gentlemen: Review," 23 Jan. 2020 The discussion was freewheeling as the families lamented the justice delayed not just for them but also for all the families and friends of victims. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "'The public has forgotten': 9/11 family members lament justice delayed at Guantanamo Bay," 1 Feb. 2020 But Trump’s freewheeling approach to governance made those processes somewhat obsolete. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "John Bolton Has Run the Trump White House’s Greatest Scam," 28 Jan. 2020 But structurally, The Glorias blurs the line between freewheeling collage and mess, its directorial flourishes sometimes smacking of self-indulgence. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Glorias': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020 From Apple to Facebook, Silicon Valley’s freewheeling ecosystem of new, nimble corporations created massive wealth and retilted the world’s economic axis. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "Silicon Valley Is Losing Its Most Distinctive Trait," 15 Jan. 2020 By contrast, the Tories’ old supporters in the south believe that leaving the EU will unshackle Britain and usher in an era of freewheeling globalism. The Economist, "Britain’s election Victory for Boris Johnson’s all-new Tories," 13 Dec. 2019 Back in the mid-aughts, YouTube culture was rougher, weirder and more personal — less a platform for brand-building celebrities, more a sandbox for freewheeling fans. Abby Ohlheiser, Washington Post, "The 24 most important viral reactions on the Internet in the past 20 years," 30 Dec. 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.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Apr. 2020.

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