Definition of free in English:



  • 1Able to act or be done as one wishes; not under the control of another.

    ‘I have no ambitions other than to have a happy life and be free’
    ‘a free choice’
    • ‘It's nice not to be bound by social norms, but you'll truly be free once you open up to the outside world.’
    • ‘It is about whether we are free, or slaves to someone else's claustrophobic idea of freedom.’
    • ‘Maybe if I go to this thing, I would be free and would feel no further obligation to help her.’
    • ‘Many people desire to be free, yet continue to find themselves in bondage.’
    • ‘If one is forced to give someone free access to one's computer, one might incriminate oneself.’
    • ‘For a woman at the turn of the century, she was gloriously free and independent.’
    • ‘All Australians need information and open, free, debate on issues that effect us all.’
    • ‘It would suggest that the Crown is only relevant to our freedom where it physically prevents free action.’
    • ‘We live in a very multicultural society where respect and tolerance are just as important as free speech.’
    • ‘Only out of free and open debate can you achieve workable policies.’
    • ‘He was a free party to this negotiation and entered into the agreement of his own free volition.’
    • ‘The people living in a democracy are free, and each citizen can arrange his life privately.’
    • ‘Men are born, and always continue, free, and equal in respect of their rights.’
    • ‘It's time to be free and open to whatever life brings rather than be afraid of changes.’
    • ‘You are going to enjoy giving up smoking and be so happy and relieved to be free.’
    • ‘We are bound by no established guidelines so we are free to be the kind of teacher we are capable and willing to be.’
    • ‘We and our children will not be safer and more free until the world is as well.’
    • ‘By all means let us have free and diverse political activity by students.’
    • ‘The long term solution to ending tyranny around the world is free and open trade.’
    • ‘I want my home to be a safe haven, a place where we can all feel safe and free.’
    1. 1.1[with infinitive]Able or permitted to take a specified action.
      ‘you are free to leave’
      • ‘Once I found them, I would set that inner rage free to do its bidding.’
      • ‘I've bought the CD, it belongs to me, I'm free to sell it on, throw it out, or give it away.’
      • ‘We tended her three children, leaving the widow free to do other things.’
      • ‘One of the demands of democratic elections is that voters are free to choose candidates they will to elect.’
      • ‘The agreement means that Tralee Town Council is free to develop its portion of the car park if needed.’
      • ‘He does not judge them, leaving the reader free to do so.’
      • ‘If Riley wants to develop open space by more than his allotment, he would be free to buy more development permits on the open market.’
      • ‘If you don't like something about the story, please fell free to tell me.’
      • ‘Each side states its case with little fanfare, and all the members of the tribunal are free to ask questions.’
      • ‘When states are free to develop their own programs, the results speak for themselves.’
      • ‘Lord Prosser's recent retirement has left him free to air his opinions.’
      • ‘Member states are free to choose their own design on the other side of the card.’
      • ‘He set me free to roam the muddy thoroughfares of the city.’
      • ‘I can't think of a verdict for such a unique creation, so the defendants are free to go.’
      • ‘Banks are now free to charge interest on overdue bills as they wish to.’
      • ‘Furthermore, member states are free to accept or reject international standards.’
      • ‘Visitors are free to wander round most of the rooms since there are no conducted tours.’
      • ‘Under EU rules, a citizen of a member state is free to travel and work in any other.’
      • ‘They are free to move and do not need an work permit.’
      • ‘The two sister ships had been temporarily bound together so that the crew was free to go back and forth.’
      able to, in a position to, capable of
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    2. 1.2(of a state or its citizens or institutions) subject neither to foreign domination nor to despotic government.
      ‘a free press’
      • ‘Even free nations have been forced to re-examine the nature of their commitment to freedom.’
      • ‘At that time, we wanted freedom to travel abroad, democracy and free elections.’
      • ‘Can violence play a valid role in the political system of a free society?’
      • ‘The free citizens of Hodge Hill bettered that: only 37 per cent bothered to vote.’
      • ‘Just ask: was the government of this state chosen in free and fair elections?’
      • ‘The pursuit of pleasure must be seen as a personal matter of the free citizen.’
      • ‘It has been said that a free press is more valuable than an elected legislature.’
      • ‘But a free society permits the giving of offence; indeed, it is one of the hallmarks of just such freedom.’
      • ‘In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights.’
      • ‘Ideas and the right to criticise them are the litmus test of a free society.’
      • ‘The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government.’
      • ‘So, as we pursue prosperity in a free, diverse and open Asia, what are the specific challenges that face us?’
      • ‘An open and free media can play an important role in the fight against poverty.’
      • ‘Accountability is a fairly important element in both a free press and a democracy.’
      • ‘Free political activity and a free media is also necessary for this aid to be effective.’
      • ‘Control of the arts by government is a Soviet ambition and, as such, should strenuously be resisted in a free society.’
      • ‘In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.’
      • ‘We have to remind every free citizen of this world about our lack of freedom.’
      • ‘Levying that kind of money from free citizens of New Zealand is a serious business.’
      • ‘It is not the role of the media in an open and free society, to suppress horror that is going on in our society because it might offend.’
      independent, self-governing, self-governed, self-ruling, self-legislating, self-determining, self-directing, non-aligned, sovereign, autonomous, autarkic, democratic, emancipated, enfranchised
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3historical Not a slave.
      ‘the poor among the free men joined the slaves against the rich’
      • ‘Both free Blacks and slaves wanted to fight in the Civil War and volunteered from the start.’
      • ‘The slave or free status of children was determined by the status of their mother.’
      • ‘Laurium was one area of Attica where slaves probably outnumbered the free population.’
      • ‘He fought to grant legal recognition to the marriages of slaves and free people of color.’
      • ‘At the western end is the old burial ground for slaves and free blacks.’
    4. 1.4[in names]Denoting an ethnic or political group actively opposing an occupying or invading force, in particular the groups that continued resisting the Germans in the Second World War after the fall of their countries.
      ‘the Free Dutch, Free Polish, and Free Norwegian fleets’
      See also Free French
      • ‘He was picked up by the free French and was dressed up as a mute Belgian Farmer.’
      • ‘He is the son of a Free Polish Army soldier who escaped the Nazis in his homeland and made a precarious trek to England to continue the fight.’
      • ‘The one thing which these rebels did have was an awareness of their legacy as free Americans.’
  • 2[often as complement] Not or no longer confined or imprisoned.

    ‘the researchers set the birds free’
    • ‘A teenager who broke into his mother's home three times has walked free from court.’
    • ‘They have spent years in prison only to be let free with a pardon, an apology and several thousand pounds of compensation.’
    • ‘Police have made no charges in the case, and Stanford remains free on bail.’
    • ‘They could confess honestly and prove a political motive and walk free.’
    • ‘He walked free from Blantyre House open prison in Kent on Friday but formally signed his life licence yesterday.’
    • ‘Her sentencing is set for 15 July and she remains free on bail until then.’
    • ‘A house breaker with more than 70 previous convictions has walked free from court.’
    • ‘Both Mr Fastow and his wife are now free on bail until formal sentencing in April.’
    • ‘Twelve of the inmates, however, were already free after being released earlier this year.’
    • ‘After 17 years of imprisonment they are now free - all that remains is for their names to be cleared.’
    • ‘"He had walked free from court and so naturally we believed what he said.’
    on the loose, at liberty, at large
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1Not physically obstructed or fixed.
      ‘he tried to kick his legs free’
      • ‘A lock of his thin blond hair fell free from under his helmet, dangling on his high forehead.’
      • ‘She pulled at the knife with all of her strength and pulled it free, falling back from the force.’
      • ‘Could we ever break free from these shackles of social insensitivity and ignorance?’
      • ‘His arm slipped free from its confines and he waved it to get someone's attention.’
      • ‘Cheska quickly gripped her fathers hands trying to pull herself free of his grip, but to no avail.’
      • ‘He struggled to get free but couldn't resist the amount of strength pulling him back.’
      • ‘It turned out that there was a short-circuit when a bolt rattled free and connected with the carbon of the boat.’
      • ‘He decided to make a citizen's arrest but she struggled free with the help of two women accomplices.’
      • ‘And then he wrenched himself free from my grasp and shut his eyes.’
      • ‘It hadn't been opened in years, and she had to use all of her strength pry it free with a loud cracking sound.’
      • ‘He squirmed and wiggled free of her grip and began exploring the corners of her bed.’
      • ‘He beat on the man's muscular arm, trying to pull himself free as the man opened up the door.’
      • ‘He is not clean, she thought as she wrenched herself free from his grasp.’
      • ‘Angie braced herself for a fight but was able to yank her hand free with relative ease.’
      • ‘Violet shrieked, desperately trying to wrench her arm free from his grasp.’
      • ‘He had to hack himself free with a knife and fell 40 feet, knocking himself out.’
      • ‘The ship later came free with the rising tide and anchored in Belgian waters for a damage inspection.’
      • ‘One of the guys was about to cut it free with the machete and all of a sudden it ripped and the boom clattered down.’
      • ‘With a hardy tug that caused me to fall over it came free, releasing Kage at last.’
      • ‘They were clamouring to get out but didn't have the strength to force themselves free.’
      unobstructed, unimpeded, unrestricted, unhampered, unlimited, clear, open, unblocked
      unattached, unfastened, unsecured, unhitched, untied, uncoupled, not fixed, detached, loose
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    2. 2.2Physics (of power or energy) disengaged or available.
      See also free energy
      • ‘He interpreted free heat as the kinetic energy of the particles of the body.’
      • ‘As the electrons are free to move they do so until they find positions where they feel no net force.’
      • ‘In a strong electric field, free electrons can be accelerated onto its inner surface.’
      • ‘But as there is no magnetic equivalent of the free electron, this is intuitively impossible.’
      • ‘These free electrons can then tunnel through a thin oxide layer on top of the niobium where they are detected as excess current.’
    3. 2.3Chemistry Physics Not bound in an atom, a molecule, or a compound.
      ‘the atmosphere of that time contained virtually no free oxygen’
      See also free radical
      • ‘What is left behind is not only very strong, but also contains very little free mercury.’
      • ‘Some of the molecules break up and release free acids and other compounds which give the oil a rancid taste.’
      • ‘An appreciable amount of carbon dioxide, unlike oxygen, is also free in solution in the plasma.’
      • ‘We accept the fact that agents such as free radicals can influence cell function.’
      • ‘The free oxygen then burnt with the graphite core, which then reacted with the hydrogen.’
    4. 2.4Linguistics Denoting a linguistic form that can be used in isolation.
      • ‘In Swedish, the indefinite article is a free morpheme, whereas the definite article is a suffix to the noun.’
      • ‘In other words, the domains in which a pronominal must be free are much more restricted than those in which an anaphor can be bound.’
      • ‘Bound morphemes have to be attached to a free morpheme, and so cannot be words in their own right.’
  • 3Not subject to engagements or obligations.

    ‘she spent her free time shopping’
    • ‘In Frank's free time, which he has quite a bit of these days, he enjoys cooking, mostly French food.’
    • ‘He uses his free time to continue the stalled investigation into his partner's death.’
    • ‘Sometimes we allow Andy unlimited free time to pursue his interests.’
    • ‘She said she didn't want to see me, that she didn't have time as she only had an hour free and she was doing some shopping.’
    • ‘The legal knowledge is acquired by apprenticeship to a qualified agent, studying in your free time for the qualifying exams.’
    • ‘So my weekend is now open and free, and I'm planning on doing as little as possible.’
    • ‘With more free time on their hands, many of them plan extended cruising around these docks.’
    • ‘Be sure to leave August 14 free with a home coming dance in the Royal Oak Hall.’
    • ‘McKay is not the only one who used her free time to help make the patients more comfortable.’
    • ‘A number of major companies are not represented because their directors are not free that weekend.’
    • ‘They therefore have free time and energy which they want to put to use.’
    • ‘The calendar is already packed and finding an extra free week in which to hold a semi-final round has proved impossible.’
    unoccupied, not at work, not working, not busy, not tied up, between appointments, off duty, off work, off, on holiday, on leave
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    1. 3.1(of a facility or piece of equipment) not occupied or in use.
      ‘the bathroom was free’
      • ‘Every time an intensive care cot became free it was found that a baby other than Mrs Walker's son needed the operation more urgently.’
      • ‘As soon as the bathroom's free I'm having a long hot soak!’
      • ‘I often found it difficult to find a free changing room.’
      • ‘He recently overheard two children in one of the palace's galleries saying to one another that maybe one of the workstations was free now and they could go back to it.’
      vacant, empty, available, spare, unoccupied, untaken, unfilled, unused, not in use
      View synonyms
  • 4Not subject to or affected by (something undesirable)

    ‘our salsas are free of preservatives’
    • ‘For a decade prior to that the country had been declared free of polio.’
    • ‘In general the entries are free of any serious bias.’
    • ‘The police should be free from political interference, and yet they aren't.’
    • ‘My muscles were free of any kind of pain or excessive fatigue.’
    • ‘On release she was free from drugs and alcohol for the first time in years.’
    • ‘The interesting menu was mercifully free of obscure language and left me spoiled for choice.’
    • ‘And it means that every Monday the roads will be free of traffic, making it safer for cyclists and pedestrians.’
    • ‘The cathedral was close by and from here we were able to explore the old town which was surprisingly quiet and virtually free of traffic.’
    • ‘Its mandate is to provide the woman with a safe space, free from violence, to make her decisions.’
    • ‘This product is all natural, nontoxic and free of any banned or harmful substances.’
    • ‘The donor blood must be free of any contamination or disease-carrying germs.’
    • ‘This premium is free of income tax and the level of the premium depends on the type of land planted and the species of tree grown.’
    • ‘He said it was essential for parents to create a proper environment in the home if they want their children to live a life free of crime.’
    • ‘Judges must, of course, be free from political interference, but that must not be at the expense of accountability.’
    • ‘Apparently we need to be certified free of foot and mouth to be able to export to Europe and other areas.’
    • ‘There is no 100 per cent safe way to keep the country free of the disease.’
    • ‘Unlike many precocious talents he was relatively free of ego and willingly shared his gifts with the less gifted.’
    • ‘By early afternoon, the sky was free of clouds, and the temperature had risen into the 60s.’
    • ‘His one wish is for their story to be told free of embellishment and false sentimentality.’
    • ‘Throughout the course of his long life, he remained completely free of heart disease and cancer.’
    unencumbered by, unaffected by, clear of, without, devoid of, lacking in
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  • 5Given or available without charge.

    ‘free health care’
    • ‘There is also no charge for them, because this is a free government service.’
    • ‘Admission is free for children accompanied by an adult.’
    • ‘The gig is free and doors open at 8.30 pm, but remember you need a Union member to sign you in.’
    • ‘To be fair, the barman did give us a round of free drinks, but we will not be visiting again.’
    • ‘Existing students will continue to receive free travel until they are 16.’
    • ‘The museum, along with most others in the district, has been free since it opened in 1983.’
    • ‘At the moment, cyclists need a free permit to use the towpaths.’
    • ‘Public education is free to all citizens through the first undergraduate degree.’
    • ‘The city has talked about making the service free or charging a relatively low fee.’
    • ‘The abolition of free sight tests in 1988 had a profound effect on opticians and led to consolidation in the industry.’
    • ‘Primary schools are free, and secondary education is subsidized by the government.’
    • ‘I guess I could also mention that every time a show opens there is always free food.’
    • ‘He said it was unfair that out of town shopping centres can attract shoppers by offering free parking.’
    • ‘An extensive series of fully guided free walks, open to all, are being run from June to September.’
    • ‘I believe that all residents in town without parking facilities should be provided with a free parking permit.’
    • ‘There has been a controlled parking zone in Bridlington for three years but permits have been free.’
    • ‘Traders have won the first battle in their fight against council plans to introduce charging at a free car park.’
    • ‘Their one-hour performance starts at 3.00 pm and admission is absolutely free.’
    • ‘This event is free and open to the public, so be sure to invite your friends and colleagues!’
    • ‘The inquest was told there was unlimited free beer, wine and water available to guests at the event.’
    without charge, free of charge, for nothing, complimentary, gratis, gratuitous, at no cost
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  • 6Using or expending something without restraint; lavish.

    ‘she was always free with her money’
    • ‘On second thoughts, since you are so free with your money, what about marrying Hillary?’
    • ‘Ariola, who is no longer cold, but is free with her kisses, is told that her period of amorous governance is almost finished.’
    • ‘Wonderful to see that she's as free with basic errors as always.’
    • ‘Don't be too free with the information you obtain or it may get back to your source, who will decide he can't trust you with more.’
    • ‘Now here he was, being just as free with his mercy as he always told us to be.’
    • ‘Kirby had not been so free with her expressions of emotions since her mother passed away.’
    • ‘If only he was as free with his tolerance as he is with his mouth he'd have something worth exporting.’
    • ‘Why are these girls so free with their kisses and why aren't I on the receiving end?’
    • ‘A lot of Caribbean people are pretty free with their words.’
    • ‘With the current turmoil in the US economy one wonders if people will be quite so free with their money on luxuries this year.’
    generous, lavish, liberal, open-handed, unstinting, giving, munificent, bountiful, bounteous, charitable, extravagant, prodigal
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    1. 6.1Frank or unrestrained in speech, expression, or action.
      ‘he was free in his talk of revolution’
      • ‘Mrs S and I enjoy nothing more than a free and frank exchange of views.’
      • ‘It is perhaps this faith, that has enabled her to be so free in her art so there are always new ideas, new approaches.’
      • ‘He is an impulsive man, very free in his talk.’
      • ‘The argument is that this will stifle free and frank discussion.’
      • ‘He is someone who doesn't live by any rules and you can clearly see that he's very free in his approach.’
      easy-going, free and easy, tolerant, liberal, permissive, indulgent, relaxed, casual, informal, unceremonious, unforced, natural, open, frank, spontaneous, uninhibited, artless, ingenuous
      View synonyms
    2. 6.2archaic Overfamiliar or forward.
      • ‘We've all become very free with each other, a bit too free.’
      • ‘She spoke and listened to much free talk, such as one never would have thought the lips or ears of Rachel Castlewood’s daughter would have uttered or heard.’
      • ‘Let's just say he's rather free with his hands, if you know what I mean.’
      impudent, impertinent, disrespectful
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  • 7(of literature or music) not observing the normal conventions of style or form.

    • ‘The style is very free; there are no rhymes.’
    • ‘Eliot famously thought that no verse was free, for the poet who wanted to do a good job.’
    • ‘The most obvious question here is if free verse is so ‘free’, then what will differentiate it from prose?’
    1. 7.1(of a translation) conveying only the broad sense; not literal.
      • ‘He also published occasional verses, satires, and a free translation from Virgil.’
      • ‘These are themes which we are now very familiar with - and the production, with its very colloquial and rather free translation of the original, emphasises them too much in its wish to make the play ‘relevant’ to our times.’
      • ‘When he translates, he does so in a free and racy style which at first surprises and then pleases.’
      flexible, broad, loose, rough, non-restrictive, general, non-literal, non-specific, not literal, not strict, not close
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  • 8Sailing
    (of the wind) blowing from a favourable direction to the side or aft of a vessel.

    • ‘We had the wind free, a lightish air; but clouds of an inky blackness were beginning to arise, and at times it lightened without thunder.’
    • ‘As the wind was free the yachts went merrily along.’
    • ‘We had the wind free, and were on port, so one needed at least two pairs of eyes in each boat!’
    • ‘The schooner had a free wind, and was substantially running before it.’
    • ‘As we had the wind free, the booms were run out, and all were aloft.’


  • 1Without cost or payment.

    ‘ladies were admitted free’
    • ‘And I got another one free with the paper the other day, which would be quite light to post.’
    • ‘The magazine will be distributed free of cost to create awareness in the community and society.’
    • ‘I like London, particularly now that I can travel about it free with my old person's Freedom Pass.’
    • ‘Boys suffering any sort of injury will be taken to the hospital, and treated free of cost.’
    • ‘It comes free with the food and is so good you are in danger of eating too much and blunting your appetite.’
    • ‘Anything which is given free of cost will not be appreciated and it will be misused.’
    • ‘The management had provided all the text books, free of cost to the students.’
    • ‘I f a unit of electricity cannot be produced free of cost, it should not be given to anybody free of cost.’
    • ‘As throughout the summer, children under five can swim free with a parent or carer at Kingfisher Leisure Centre.’
    • ‘I still have a T-shirt that came free with 200 cigarettes from a Tenerife supermarket.’
    • ‘Those who cannot afford to pay this fee are exempted and treated free of cost.’
    • ‘Child specialist, Dr H Raju, will treat these children free of cost every Tuesday.’
    • ‘The Trust will shortly open a Help Centre in the city to provide counselling for patients free of cost.’
    • ‘Think of the thousands of small webcams that come free with computer packages.’
    • ‘Banks may soon get a screen-based platform to trade in foreign currencies free of cost.’
    • ‘Leprosy awareness has however increased and it can be cured at the initial stage, free of cost.’
    • ‘When our government says basic education will be imparted free of cost it simply offers not to charge tuition fees.’
    without charge, free of charge, for nothing, complimentary, gratis, gratuitous, at no cost
    View synonyms
  • 2Sailing
    With the sheets eased.

    ‘I kept her off the wind and sailing free until I had all square forward’
    • ‘Evans calculated the tides perfectly once again, and we had the benefit of three knots free while we raced around the famous headland.’
    • ‘Make sure the sheets and halyards are clear and ready to run free as needed.’


  • 1Release from confinement or slavery.

    ‘they were freed from jail’
    • ‘Fourteen years after being freed from jail, he finds himself fighting for justice again.’
    • ‘Mr Bamford was held in custody for five months before being freed on bail.’
    • ‘He was the first person to greet them when they were finally freed from prison.’
    • ‘Not charged with a real crime or provided access to lawyers, these people must be deported promptly or freed, or many will languish, and more will die.’
    • ‘After she is freed from slavery, she becomes a teacher, writer, and activist for the black race and for women's rights.’
    • ‘All bar three of the captives were freed unharmed.’
    • ‘The three injured prisoners were also freed and taken to hospital.’
    • ‘A few minutes later, the heavily armed hostage-takers freed 25 women and children from the other side of the school.’
    • ‘He was then freed on bail but remained under electronic surveillance.’
    • ‘Would-be saboteurs cut the locks off horse pens at a corral, freeing about 40 wild horses.’
    • ‘He said they would free all the hostages if police released the rest of the detained protesters.’
    • ‘Some freed the slaves, other sent them back to their master for lack of means to care for them.’
    • ‘He was freed on parole in March having changed his name.’
    • ‘The truth is that a hostage was not freed by the kidnappers.’
    • ‘Both families held by the gang responsible were later freed unharmed, but deeply traumatised.’
    • ‘The operation was a success: the hostages were all freed, unharmed.’
    • ‘Many involve men who have been freed by the courts and are thus legally innocent.’
    • ‘Nine hostages were freed from the building earlier yesterday.’
    • ‘He was freed on parole in August last year after serving half of his one year prison term for assault.’
    • ‘They have led to innocent people being jailed and criminals being freed on legal technicalities.’
    release, liberate, discharge, emancipate, set free, let go, set at liberty, set loose, let loose, turn loose, deliver
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Release from physical obstruction or restraint.
      ‘I had to tug hard and at last freed him’
      ‘she struggled to free herself from the tenacious mud’
      • ‘The motorway was closed as rescuers battled to free casualties from the twisted wreckage of the coach.’
      • ‘He frees his right arm with a jerk.’
      • ‘I was once on a TV programme with an escapologist who freed himself from a sack bound with chains.’
      • ‘It took a crew from the Farnworth station an hour to rip up floorboards and remove the bath to free the kitten.’
      • ‘They were at the scene for 90 minutes, helping to free the victims and clear the road.’
      • ‘The two other occupants, sitting in the front and rear passenger side seats, were quickly freed after firefighters removed two doors.’
      • ‘The powerful one frees himself and unties the bonds of everyone else.’
      • ‘An unconscious man was freed from his wrecked car but was pronounced dead just over 30 minutes later at Leeds General Infirmary, from internal injuries.’
      • ‘After three hours the couple were freed by firemen who rescued them from a window.’
      • ‘Mrs Welsh was trapped in the wreckage and had to be freed by firefighters.’
      • ‘Passers-by came to the guard's aid and freed him from his restraints.’
      • ‘The outside lane of the northbound carriageway was temporarily closed while the man was freed from the vehicle, causing a two mile tailback.’
      • ‘The man was freed from the scaffolding by 4pm and was today recovering in hospital.’
      • ‘They used hydraulic lifting gear to free the car which was wedged under the driver's cabin of the bus and it was two hours before the woman's body could be freed from the wreckage.’
      • ‘A mark of the confusion attending the rescue operation came when it was widely reported that five firefighters, trapped for two days in the rubble, had been freed from their concrete tomb.’
      • ‘She was freed from her car and rushed to Worcester Royal Infirmary but paramedics and hospital staff were unable to save her.’
      • ‘The inquest heard that after he was freed from the wreckage by firefighters he was airlifted to the Royal United Hospital in Bath but died soon after arrival.’
      • ‘Her hands flailed wildly, searching for anything to help her free herself from his grip.’
      • ‘Two tugs from Clyde coastguards tried unsuccessfully to pull the vessel clear and it was freed the next day on the early morning tide.’
      • ‘He was eventually freed by firefighters and suffered only minor injuries.’
      extricate, extract, disentangle, disentwine, disengage, disencumber, loosen, release, remove, get out, pull out, pull free, get loose, get free
      View synonyms
  • 2Remove something undesirable or restrictive from.

    ‘his inheritance freed him from financial constraints’
    ‘free your body of excess tension’
    • ‘The office-bearers have also promised to sustain the movement till the country is freed from the clutches of corruption.’
    • ‘For just a moment, she sounds like a true-born radical, a daughter of the liberation fighters who freed much of Africa from colonialism when she was a child.’
    • ‘The Internet frees us from the pesky constraints of our physical bodies.’
    • ‘Once she was freed from the contractual bondage in December 2001, there was no stopping this beauty.’
    • ‘Performance responds to this dilemma by unlocking the restraints of self identity and freeing students to explore a variety of knowledge claims.’
    • ‘Since Arnott is now freed from the constraints of teaching university students, expect more delight from this accomplished sculptor.’
    • ‘Already the move, which frees the club from restrictive rules, has paid dividends, explained Mr Collins.’
    • ‘Online life can be quite liberating in the way it frees you from your physicality and lets you become something else…’
    • ‘When they become guerrillas the women set themselves free from patriarchal bonds.’
    • ‘The event was staged to celebrate the Locomotives on Highways Act, freeing the motorist from the restrictive four miles an hour speed limit.’
    • ‘More and more, corporations are freed of the restrictions imposed on them by former regimes.’
    • ‘Futurist and functionalist discourses displayed the aeroplane as the emancipation of man, freeing him from earthbound limitations.’
    • ‘Diabetics could have their lives dramatically transformed by a new approach, developed in Yorkshire, freeing them of restrictions on their diet.’
    • ‘A future in which succeeding generations are freed from the need to spawn wealth anew can allow children, and grandchildren, to lead lives on a higher plane.’
    • ‘Would my partner and I be freed from the tyranny of having to rise early to provide a nutritious packed lunch for our daughter?’
    • ‘They must be freed from the shackles of theories.’
    • ‘Therefore older women will be freed from the constraint of declining ovarian egg releases.’
    • ‘Therefore people should be freed from the bondage of religious superstition and empowered to overthrow their leaders.’
    • ‘The FCC is, in effect, holding out the possibility of freeing the networks from restrictions on buying up more stations.’
    • ‘He came to free people, to liberate their minds and hearts from all that bound them.’
    exempt, make exempt, except, excuse, absolve
    View synonyms
  • 3Make available for a particular purpose.

    ‘we are freeing management time for alternative work’
    • ‘A budget checks frivolous spending, helps you see where your money goes and frees up cash for retirement savings.’
    • ‘In the process, space alongside the line once occupied by cartons of assembly parts has been freed for other purposes.’
    • ‘They can lower your monthly mortgage payments, freeing up cash for other purposes.’
    • ‘This would free up time for doctors to deal with more serious things.’
    • ‘The primary purpose of the serviced land initiative is to free up land for development.’
    • ‘The changes freed up space in the operating room and also increased market share.’
    • ‘That frees up capital for investments in new technology and industries here.’
    • ‘This frees up a tremendous amount of floor space to leave room for other needed processes.’
    • ‘This frees up the helicopters to work only in the areas flooded too deep for any sort of wheeled vehicle, even ones with as high a draft as a garbage trick, to get into.’
    • ‘Reining in your spending should free up money that you can use to pay off your credit cards and car loan.’
    • ‘Staff are then freed up to focus on other, potentially revenue-generating issues.’
    • ‘That frees up additional money to invest in bonds.’
    • ‘Reviewing the other drawers, I realized that two could be combined, which freed up a drawer for the jewelry.’
    • ‘The proposed new sixth form block is designed to free up classroom space for the new intake.’
    • ‘That frees up general revenue funds which could go to propping up Social Security down the road.’
    • ‘A 1970s shopping mall in the middle of the estate could also be flattened to free up more land for homes.’
    • ‘The pace of consumer spending should quicken this summer, as tax relief frees up household income, even while the labor markets are slow to recover.’
    • ‘Supporters believe that this will free up resources to care for the environment and to ensure social progress.’
    • ‘It would free up a lot of time for him to get on with the rest of his life.’
    • ‘Such relief frees up resources, which a government can then devote to aid and reconstruction - or divert to anything else.’


  • for free

    • informal Without cost or payment.

      ‘these professionals were giving their time for free’
      • ‘It is installed for free by the company, which then recoups its cost and makes a profit through the charges.’
      • ‘After this the work goes into the public domain and people can use it for free.’
      • ‘An archaeological site will be opened to the public who can visit it for free during a special heritage weekend.’
      • ‘Surely the council should allow the locals, who after all have paid for them in the first place, to park for free.’
      • ‘Thousands of people will be able to travel on the trams for free until charging begins next week.’
      • ‘The reality of this world is that there is nothing for free and everything of this order comes at a cost.’
      • ‘Isn't accepting payment in order to file-share even worse than doing it for free?’
      • ‘It was always an eccentric business principle, giving things away for free.’
      • ‘Not only are they given away for free at some clinics, but a subscription for the pill at a chemist costs only pennies.’
      • ‘From the start the festival has proved a popular draw with jazz lovers by offering good music, mostly for free.’
  • free and easy

    • Informal and relaxed.

      ‘enjoy the free and easy lifestyle’
      • ‘The fifties were free and easy if you endorsed the status quo, but repressive and suffocating if you did not.’
      • ‘The high hourly rate gives you a relatively free and easy lifestyle, you know.’
      • ‘In fact, although Americans tell me how much things have tightened up, compared to Britain everything seemed remarkably free and easy.’
      • ‘Kara was being free and easy with her invitations.’
      • ‘A lot of male friendships are built on both parties being free and easy and never having to contribute more than companionship in the pursuit of pleasure and the loan of a ton until payday.’
      • ‘It was a lovely life back then, so free and easy.’
      • ‘The letters are lively and witty, though occasionally solemn in their reflections; she believed that letters ‘should be as free and easy as one's discourse’.’
      • ‘Things with Natasha were free and easy, just the way things ought to be.’
      • ‘When you get home with your child at the end of the workday, keep your time free and easy.’
      • ‘They had the kind of solid, free and easy friendship that would allow for long stretches of silence in complete comfort.’
      easy-going, relaxed, casual, informal, unceremonious, unforced, natural, open, spontaneous, uninhibited, friendly
      breezy, airy, jaunty, carefree
      laid-back, upbeat
      View synonyms
  • free, gratis, and for nothing

    • humorous Without charge.

      • ‘I practice my art not for money, but free, gratis, and for nothing.’
      • ‘If you are on any benefits at all it should be 100% free, gratis and for nothing.’
      • ‘In most instances, they perform their duties free, gratis, and for nothing.’
      • ‘Either is yours if you want it, free, gratis, and for nothing.’
      • ‘One thing we've decided to do is make a book of mine available online, free, gratis and for nothing.’
  • a free hand

    • Freedom to act completely at one's own discretion.

      ‘Congress had given him a free hand to take care of the situation’
      • ‘If the police are given a free hand to solve the law and order problem in the State, they will act accordingly.’
      • ‘The mayor has a free hand to implement an interesting agenda if he wants to.’
      • ‘And while lorry drivers have to adhere to strict conditions on their driving times, taxi drivers effectively have a free hand.’
      • ‘The head is responsible to the governors but is usually given a free hand to appoint staff, admit pupils and take day-to-day decisions.’
      • ‘In a brave move by station bosses, the candidates are also given a free hand when it comes to choosing their own selection of music.’
      • ‘The council is correct to ask the people to decide where cuts should be made, but it should give them a free hand in doing so without any guidance from above.’
      • ‘The agreement gave management greater ability to transfer workers to new work locations and gave it a free hand to cut thousands of jobs.’
      • ‘The Army had a free hand to do whatever was necessary to restore order.’
      • ‘The private company will be given a free hand to raise the cost in line with inflation.’
      • ‘He took up the offer, asking only that he be given a free hand to work without interruption.’
      • ‘The Airports Authority of India, if given a free hand and permitted to take up modernisation projects on a fast track, can carry out the task as effectively as any private player.’
      free rein, freedom, licence, latitude, leeway, scope, flexibility
      liberty, independence
      carte blanche
      View synonyms
  • free on board (or rail)

    • Including or assuming delivery without charge to a ship (or railway wagon).

      • ‘I note that the explanatory note of the bill quotes figures of $2 per kilo, free on board, in 1999, and that has declined in 2 years to $1.53.’
      • ‘A supplier charged different prices for identical boxes of bananas delivered free on rail at the same ports, according to the Member State to which the boxes were going.’
      • ‘Indian sugar is available for export at $305 a tonne free on board basis, compared with $312 a tonne for Thai sugar.’
      • ‘Mining revenue for 2007 reflects the export coal sold on a ‘Free on Rail’ basis’
  • (a) free rein

    • Freedom of action or expression.

      ‘he was given free rein to work out his designs’
      • ‘Students from various educational institutions turned up to give free rein to their imagination.’
      • ‘And telemarketers are given free rein to call your home.’
      • ‘For the life of me, I cannot understand what these people want, apart from a free rein to continue with their insulting programming on radio.’
      • ‘Together, we must fight for balance in globalization by bringing together producers and labour to expand the concept beyond free rein for corporations.’
      • ‘Consultants will be give a free rein to put forward whatever options they believe are best and most financially acceptable to secure the building's future.’
      • ‘‘These kids have a free rein to do what they want,’ he said.’
      • ‘Given free rein on the layout, I extended the text of his story to take up eight full pages, with each page also playing host to one of eight collages.’
      • ‘All it takes for evil to triumph over good in any country is for decent people to remain silent as wicked men are allowed free rein.’
      • ‘However, it is the free rein of the surface vessels to transit through those submarine areas, even though they are known to be training grounds.’
      • ‘The oil and gas companies who supported his candidacy were given free rein to write their own rules when it came to state policy on emissions control.’
      freedom, scope, a free hand, leeway, latitude, elbow room, space, room, flexibility, liberty, independence, play, slack, free play, leisure, licence, room to manoeuvre, scope for initiative, freedom of action, freedom from restriction, indulgence, laxity, margin
      wriggle room, wiggle room
      carte blanche
      View synonyms
  • a free ride

    • Used in reference to a situation in which someone benefits without having to make a fair contribution.

      ‘it is time for the scientific community to stop giving alternative medicine a free ride’
      • ‘This will be tough, since they've had a free ride for so long.’
      • ‘I suppose they'd prefer taxing the working class to death to ensure a free ride for students?’
      • ‘Are we willing to work for what we need or are we waiting for a free ride?’
      • ‘With the media as their dedicated cheerleaders, the environmentalists have had a free ride for much too long a time.’
      • ‘After all, if some grad school offers you a free ride, why shouldn't you take it?’
      • ‘No one should be stigmatised for his or her lifestyle choice, but surely the law can ensure that no one has a free ride.’
      • ‘The problem is that there is not now, nor ever will be, a perfect mechanism for separating the deserving from those looking to get a free ride.’
      • ‘I think he's gotten a little bit of a free ride on some of this stuff.’
      • ‘All last week the government has had a free ride.’
      • ‘Call them what you like, motorists who drive without road tax are taking a free ride at the expense of the law-abiding.’
  • the free world

    • The non-communist countries of the world, as formerly opposed to the Soviet bloc.

      • ‘The stakes for the security of the free world are too high.’
      • ‘It was rightly condemned in the free world, leading to sanctions and boycotts.’
      • ‘After 12 years of defiance, he refused to comply with the demands of the free world.’
      • ‘Whether you're running for a local council or to lead the free world, it seems the lessons are the same.’
      • ‘The age-old debate on censorship in the so-called free world has returned to the headlines.’
      • ‘Our candidate is a good and decent man who has trained all his life to be the leader of the free world.’
      • ‘It was a contest of conviction, of whether the free world was prepared to protect and encourage democratic values.’
      • ‘Our nation and the rest of the free world have traveled far too long down the wrong road.’
      • ‘If the president of the United States really does think he's the leader of the free world, then the free world should have a say in who gets the job.’
      • ‘There are many politicians in the free world who favor seemingly pragmatic cooperation with repressive regimes.’
  • it's a free country

    • Said when justifying a course of action.

      ‘it's a free country, a man can buy lunch for a pretty girl’
      • ‘His response is it's a free country and he does not subject anybody to his lifestyle.’
      • ‘Yes, it's a free country, and yes, everyone can say pretty much whatever they want.’
      • ‘But it's a free country, people can argue what they want.’
      • ‘I know it's a free country, but if I've sat quietly on a bench minding my own business then why should I have to put up with someone else's smoke blowing freely in my face.’
      • ‘Clearly, it's a free country, and they have every right to do that.’
      • ‘He is entitled to his opinions, it's a free country.’
      • ‘In the end it's a free country and if those students chose not to continue with their teaching studies, then so be it.’
      • ‘He says it's no business of mine where he goes after choir practice and it's a free country.’
      • ‘I think she is ridiculous, but it's a free country, and she is entitled to her opinion.’
      • ‘Their only comment was, it's a free country and he can do anything he wants.’
  • make free with

    • Treat without proper respect.

      ‘he'll have something to say about your making free with his belongings’
      • ‘The only character who stands out for me is Dave Lightener, who makes free with the wives of enlisted men while ruthlessly recruiting their sons for the war.’
      • ‘He has a way of writing scenes emblematically, allowing encounters to carry a certain symbolic weight and making free with dramatic coincidence.’
      • ‘It's the journalists who are the bigots today and make free with the facts.’
      • ‘Yes, the director has made free with time and place, and anyone who still feels that updating automatically disqualifies a production from being taken seriously need read no further.’
      • ‘See, Reggie not only slides into the kitchen and makes free with the cat bowls, he's also found that if he slopes upstairs, he can find a cosy cat basket outside my bedroom.’
      • ‘There, his cup untouched beside him, he made free with the host's collection of books.’
      • ‘It makes free with cultural conventions in a way we find charming, funny, winsome and sometimes freeing.’
      • ‘As it is, voles dare not approach the potting shed, though they make free with the rest of the garden.’
      • ‘The opera does make free with history but the characters of the opera are recognisably the historical characters of popular imagination.’
      • ‘In the parlour your claret was made free with, as Stephen tells me he opened 34 bottles.’
      help oneself to, take, take possession of, take over, hijack, appropriate, steal
      use without asking, treat without respect
      walk off with
      nick, pinch
      View synonyms
  • run free

    • Be unconfined or unrestrained.

      ‘the owners let their dogs run free’
      • ‘Mary has hit out at the owner for letting the dogs run free.’
      • ‘When we inherited Coco, she had never been left to run free, because she was so fierce.’
      • ‘In my world, children should run free through art galleries.’
      • ‘The City Council heard a proposal from the commission to create four parks where dogs could run free.’
      • ‘The money funded the creation of the 40 acre park near Bangalore, where the bears run free, hide in caves, and learn to behave as normal jungle animals once again.’
  • walk free

    • Elude the expected or deserved punishment.

      ‘the hit and run driver walked free from court’
      • ‘The pair walked free five years ago when a court case against them collapsed.’
      • ‘The millionaire businessman walked free from court yesterday after a jury took just 90 minutes to find him not guilty.’
      • ‘Many police suspects have been allowed to walk free.’
      • ‘The 13-year-olds were found guilty of breaching an order, but walked free from court after magistrates imposed a two-year supervision order.’
      • ‘The father of the young man left paralysed spoke of his utter devastation after the men accused of assaulting his son walked free from court yesterday.’


Old English frēo (adjective), frēon (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vrij and German frei, from an Indo-European root meaning to love, shared by friend.