adj., adv., & v.
adj. (freer; freest) 1 not in bondage to or under the control of another; having personal rights and social and political liberty. 2 (of a State, or its citizens or institutions) subject neither to foreign domination nor to despotic government; having national and civil liberty (a free press; a free society). 3 a unrestricted, unimpeded; not restrained or fixed. b at liberty; not confined or imprisoned. c released from ties or duties; unimpeded. d unrestrained as to action; independent (set free). 4 (foll. by of, from) a not subject to; exempt from (free of tax). b not containing or subject to a specified (usu. undesirable) thing (free of preservatives; free from disease). 5 (foll. by to + infin.) able or permitted to take a specified action (you are free to choose). 6 unconstrained (free gestures). 7 a available without charge; costing nothing. b not subject to tax, duty, trade-restraint, or fees. 8 a clear of engagements or obligations (are you free tomorrow?). b not occupied or in use (the bathroom is free now). c clear of obstructions. 9 spontaneous, unforced (free compliments). 10 open to all comers. 11 lavish, profuse; using or used without restraint (very free with their money). 12 frank, unreserved. 13 (of a literary style) not observing the strict laws of form. 14 (of a translation) conveying the broad sense; not literal. 15 forward, familiar, impudent. 16 (of talk, stories, etc.) slightly indecent. 17 Physics a not modified by an external force. b not bound in an atom or molecule. 18 Chem. not combined (free oxygen). 19 (of power or energy) disengaged or available.
adv. 1 in a free manner. 2 without cost or payment. 3 Naut. not close-hauled.
v.tr. 1 make free; set at liberty. 2 (foll. by of, from) relieve from (something undesirable). 3 disengage, disentangle. free agent a person with freedom of action. free and easy informal, unceremonious. free association Psychol. a method of investigating a person's unconscious by eliciting from him or her spontaneous associations with ideas proposed by the examiner. free-born inheriting a citizen's rights and liberty. Free Church a Church dissenting or seceding from an established Church. free enterprise a system in which private business operates in competition and largely free of State control. free fall movement under the force of gravity only, esp.: 1 the part of a parachute descent before the parachute opens. 2 the movement of a spacecraft in space without thrust from the engines. free fight a general fight in which all present join. free-for-all a free fight, unrestricted discussion, etc. free-form (attrib.) of an irregular shape or structure. free hand freedom to act at one's own discretion (see also FREEHAND). free-handed generous. free-handedly generously. free-handedness generosity. free house Brit. an inn or public house not controlled by a brewery and therefore not restricted to selling particular brands of beer or liquor. free kick Football a set kick allowed to be taken by one side without interference from the other. free labour the labour of workmen not in a trade union. free-living 1 indulgence in pleasures, esp. that of eating. 2 Biol. living freely and independently; not attached to a substrate. free love sexual relations according to choice and unrestricted by marriage. free market a market in which prices are determined by unrestricted competition. free on board (or rail) without charge for delivery to a ship or railway wagon. free pass an authorization of free admission, travel, etc. free port 1 a port area where goods in transit are exempt from customs duty. 2 a port open to all traders. free radical Chem. an unchanged atom or group of atoms with one or more unpaired electrons. free-range esp. Brit. (of hens etc.) kept in natural conditions with freedom of movement. free rein see REIN. free school 1 a school for which no fees are charged. 2 a school run on the basis of freedom from restriction for the pupils. free speech the right to express opinions freely. free-spoken speaking candidly; not concealing one's opinions. free-standing not supported by another structure. free trade international trade left to its natural course without restriction on imports or exports. free verse = VERS LIBRE. free vote a Parliamentary vote not subject to party discipline. free wheel the driving wheel of a bicycle, able to revolve with the pedals at rest. free-wheel v.intr. 1 ride a bicycle with the pedals at rest, esp. downhill. 2 move or act without constraint or effort. free will 1 the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate. 2 the ability to act at one's own discretion (I did it of my own free will). free world esp. US the non-Communist countries. freely adv. freeness n.
[ OE freo, freon f. Gmc ]