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 For many African Americans, celebrating the Fourth of July as the day Americans became free from British rule feels inapplicable since our ancestors were not free.— Christen A. Johnson
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

Other Words from free

Adjective

freeness \ ˈfrē-​nəs How to pronounce free (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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective On Thursday, Tigers manager AJ Hinch and shortstop Carlos Correa, who is expected to receive a $300 million contract in free agency, were seen together having brunch at the Tiny Boxwoods restaurant in Houston, where Hinch lives in the offseason. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 19 Nov. 2021 In fact, Hilton was signed by the Bengals in free agency to create impact plays from the cornerback spot but also to bring veteran leadership to the defensive backs room. Kelsey Conway, The Enquirer, 18 Nov. 2021 Belt, 33, could have rejected the offer and tested free agency with the Giants receiving a compensatory draft pick. Matt Kawahara, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Nov. 2021 The move toward toughness actually began months before free agency, when the Heat added the 6-foot-11, 250-pound muscle of Dewayne Dedmon. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, 17 Nov. 2021 Before the offseason ended, the Tigers had already committed to finding an established starting pitcher in free agency. Evan Petzold, USA TODAY, 16 Nov. 2021 He was granted free agency at the end of the season and spent his last season with the Braves. Baltimore Sun Staff, baltimoresun.com, 16 Nov. 2021 Bradley found a home with the Brewers in free agency last year. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 15 Nov. 2021 Thunder fans still haven’t forgiven him for leaving in free agency. Cliff Brunt, courant.com, 15 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The primary suite, meanwhile, has its own fireplace, two walk-in closets and two full baths—one with a free-standing tub. Helena Madden, Robb Report, 17 Nov. 2021 However, its discount Macy’s Backstage could be a be free-standing operation. Walter Loeb, Forbes, 15 Nov. 2021 There are no free-standing chests of drawers because volumes of storage are built into each room. Judy Rose, Detroit Free Press, 13 Nov. 2021 Bowman said the fire was set in a free-standing section of the memorial that is not attached to the main building. Chris Boyette, CNN, 9 Nov. 2021 Carbon dioxide removal, or CDR, involves free-standing machines that suck in air and pass it over membranes that pull out the CO2. Matt Simon, Wired, 5 Nov. 2021 Ledbetter said the new store -- a free-standing fast-food operation with a patio and drive-thru to be built on the south side of Rockside Road at the Independence border -- will be roughly 3,000 square feet. John Benson, cleveland, 27 Oct. 2021 At the far left, barrier cliffs yield to open badlands and free-standing stone temples in the isolated north end of the park in Cathedral Valley (read: Serenity Found in Torrey and Capitol Reef’s Cathedral Valley District). The Salt Lake Tribune, 21 Oct. 2021 When finished, Orlando Free Fall will be the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower, its owner says. Dewayne Bevil, orlandosentinel.com, 20 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Unfortunately, a fire truck is headed in the opposite direction, toward the blazing house, where the brave firefighters will soon free a surprisingly unscathed Michael from the flames and pay for it with their lives. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, 15 Oct. 2021 Texas State allowed the second most rushing yards per game in the conference in 2020, which should free up huge running lanes for this new wide zone scheme. Matthew Soderberg, Dallas News, 25 Aug. 2021 Bobby Wade is stepping in to handle wide receivers while Trey Anderson is going to help out with quarterbacks which will free up offensive coordinator Zak Hill to oversee the receiving group. Michelle Gardner, The Arizona Republic, 12 Aug. 2021 Cornyn said his proposal, sponsored with Democratic Senator Alex Padilla, could free up between $80 billion and $100 billion for projects. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 9 Aug. 2021 Four hours from Washington, DC, Green Bank sounded like a modern-day Walden that could free Jenna and me from the exasperating demands of being always online and reachable. Stephen Kurczy, Wired, 3 Aug. 2021 Cars and pedestrians would be divided along this portion of the roadway, and the hybrid plan would free up 12 to 15 disabled parking spaces. Ricardo Cano, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Oct. 2021 These new batteries, made from carbon nanotubes, would free up all the space batteries usually take up. CNN, 13 Aug. 2021 Graduate assistant Bobby Wade is a good bet to step in at wide receivers with offensive analyst Trey Anderson probably moving over to quarterbacks which would free up Hill to help with receivers. Michelle Gardner, The Arizona Republic, 9 Aug. 2021

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.

See More

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

Learn More About free

Time Traveler for free

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near free

Fredrikstad

free

free agent

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for free

Last Updated

21 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Free.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/free. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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

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

free

transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on free

Nglish: Translation of free for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of free for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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