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.
1. in a free manner.
2 without cost or payment.
3 Naut. not close-hauled.
1. make free; set at liberty.
2 (foll. by of, from) relieve from (something undesirable).
3 disengage, disentangle.
Phrases and idioms:
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.
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.
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.
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.i
1. ride a bicycle with the pedals at rest, esp. downhill.
2 move or act without constraint or effort.
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.
Etymology: OE freo, freon f. Gmc