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.
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
More top reads: Get smarter about markets with our free newsletter, delivered to your inbox every morning.WSJ, 18 Nov. 2022 Previously, these check marks were free and indicated an account was authentic—that’s the real New York Times, the real President Joe Biden, the real Slim Jim, and so on.
Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, 18 Nov. 2022 Admission is $5 per person; children under age 12 are free.
Elaine Rewolinski, Journal Sentinel, 18 Nov. 2022 The vaccines are free; monkeypox vaccines are confidential.
Julie Washington, cleveland, 17 Nov. 2022 But both within the album’s context and in and of themselves, Blount notes, the songs are free from religious orthodoxy.
Katherine Proctor, Los Angeles Times, 17 Nov. 2022 According to Slamdance, Moby will give the movie away for free after the premiere, in the spirit of punk rock.
Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 Nov. 2022 Toyland will also give attendees a behind-the-scenes view of Santa's Workshop and allow children to ride the toy train for free between 5-8 p.m. on select Saturdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Nour Rahal, Detroit Free Press, 12 Nov. 2022 Active-duty military and veterans with a valid military ID can also enter the San Antonio Zoo for free all month.
Shepard Price, San Antonio Express-News, 11 Nov. 2022
The project would return the lower half of California’s second-largest river to a free-flowing state for the first time in more than a century.
Gillian Flaccus, Anchorage Daily News, 17 Nov. 2022 Take this portrait gallery wall by Jeffrey Dungan as an example, where circle frames add a free-flowing romance to the scene.
Alyssa Longobucco, House Beautiful, 28 Oct. 2022 Days before the deadline, donors have raised funds to buy and preserve 91 acres along one of the Southeast’s last free-flowing rivers in Jackson County.
Lee Roop | Lroop@al.com, al, 28 Oct. 2022 The two sat down with EW for a free-ranging conversation about, among other things, reaching for authenticity, getting weird with Anthony Hopkins, and the hazards of era-appropriate foodstuffs.
Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, 5 Oct. 2022 Even free-ranging dogs tend to drift away from their mothers.
Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, 18 Sep. 2022 While the disease is not common in Ohio, it has been found in free-ranging populations in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as many western states and Canada.
Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, 24 Aug. 2022 That less-than-maternal response is characteristic of the smart, tart voice that animates Rodgers’s autobiography, crafted from three years of free-ranging conversations with New York Times theater critic Jesse Green.
Wendy Smith, Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2022 The team started with North America’s largest mammal since the free-ranging bison spend much of their time grazing, keeping certain plants in check and allowing others to flourish.
Erika Page, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 Apr. 2022
Ukraine announced a high-profile prisoner swap early Thursday that was the culmination of months of efforts to free many of the Ukrainian fighters who defended a steel plant in Mariupol during a long Russian siege.
Karl Ritter, ajc, 22 Sep. 2022 Meanwhile, negotiation efforts to free the two men continue.
Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, 27 June 2022 In the years since, the Astros lost shortstop Carlos Correa and center fielder George Springer to free agency, along with pitcher Gerrit Cole, who was a member of the team in 2018 and 2019.
Lindsey Adler, WSJ, 6 Nov. 2022 Tailfin grants free worldwide shipping on orders over $340.
Matt Beer, Outside Online, 2 Nov. 2022 The agency touted the move as a change that will smooth out COVID-19 reporting work across the nation and free up resources.
Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, 7 Oct. 2022 Dilligence Training holds monthly events and free monthly youth classes.
Steve Smith, Hartford Courant, 26 Oct. 2022 The state health department said Monday the Mitten State is the first to launch this federal initiative at neighborhood testing sites to provide quick access to free COVID-19 antiviral medications.
Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, 5 Oct. 2022 Indianapolis also lost special teams standout George Odum to free agency this spring.
Nate Atkins, The Indianapolis Star, 30 Aug. 2022 See More
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.
Adjective, Adverb, and Verb
Middle English, from Old English frēo; akin to Old High German frī free, Welsh rhydd, Sanskrit priya own, dear
First Known Use
before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a