Definition of freewheel in English:



  • 1Ride a bicycle with the pedals at rest, especially downhill.

    ‘the postman came freewheeling down the track’
    • ‘I'd freewheeled down the hill, trees flashing past, the late summer sunlight flickering above my head.’
    • ‘My fastest-ever speed was 75 mph, freewheeling down a hill in the Pyrenees.’
    • ‘One day in an attempt to test myself I reversed the direction I rode around the house, which involved freewheeling through a minor dip in the section.’
    • ‘Then we freewheeled down a long steep descent, right down to the bottom of the valley and across the bridge at Ghulmet.’
    • ‘I do so twice before I reach the summit, but I still feel triumphant as I freewheel down to the hostel on the other side.’
    • ‘The island measures three miles by two miles and it is possible to hire a bicycle to freewheel through the glorious vegetation and marvel at the strange granite rock formations.’
    • ‘An aubergine haze hung over the valley as we freewheeled towards the fortified hill town of Monteriggioni.’
    • ‘Then we freewheeled down countless switchbacks to Sangdu, nestled in the corner of a wide earthy valley dotted with ponies, pigs and yaks.’
    • ‘As the bike freewheeled to a standstill he frantically tried to decide what to do.’
    • ‘It was sheer physical pleasure, freewheeling or skimming along with minimum effort through meadows, orchards, vineyards, woods and tiny towns with squares and window boxes.’
    • ‘It was like peddling your guts out to get up a hill, only to freewheel down the other side.’
    • ‘It freewheeled down the hill and collided with the car in which Mrs Reilly and her daughter were travelling.’
    • ‘We rode through a stream, enjoyed a few final bursts of speed and skidding switchbacks and freewheeled into the shanty town of Yolosa.’
    • ‘I didn't have to pedal at all, I just freewheeled and freewheeled, all the time picking up more and more speed.’
    • ‘Teenagers freewheel on cycles, their feet in the air.’
    • ‘I was freewheeling down towards Bannow Bay in glorious sunshine, the roads deserted, the warm, pine-scented breeze in my hair and the sound of chirruping insects in the hedgerows’
    • ‘We swept through the town of Grindelwald and freewheeled along the bank of the Lutschine river.’
    • ‘So I pretty much freewheeled around the circuit until another group caught us from behind, which included the other 3 kiwis.’
    • ‘Paul seems to think we're going to freewheel down it.’
    • ‘As I freewheeled and carefully negotiated the ruts, I enjoyed views of Wetwang, partially hidden in trees, and surrounded by all that cultivated land Sir Tatton was describing.’
    coast, cruise, drift, glide, sail, skim, float
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Allow a motor vehicle to travel without the engine running or in neutral gear.
      ‘she was convinced that she saved a lot of petrol money by turning the engine off and freewheeling down the hill’
      • ‘The equipment, which enables trains to freewheel, was fitted onto 51 185 locomotives run by the company.’
      • ‘The driver alleged that the vehicle suffered brake failure, but police suspected that he lost control while free-wheeling down the steep incline.’
      • ‘Emma helped avert disaster when she prevented the 33-seater bus freewheeling down Shap Road.’
      • ‘In an automatic you virtually freewheel to a halt so the brakes have to stop the car all by themselves.’
      • ‘The Yamaha also has an engine brake, but it had a tendency to freewheel down hills a bit.’
  • 2Act or proceed in a relaxed or casual way, without making much effort.

    ‘I'm not the sort of person who would freewheel his way to the end of a contract’
    ‘another manager might have been willing to freewheel through one final season’
    • ‘Waterford freewheeled during the remainder of the game, with Power giving some of his subs a run out.’
    • ‘But they sagged and allowed the Kings to freewheel their way to the other two goals that put the game out of reach.’
    • ‘With the Dons heading for a bottom-six finish, Anderson insists there's no way they can freewheel to the summer.’
    • ‘The band freewheel to the end of the track with a spot of easy-on-down chilling.’
    • ‘The film allows the director ample space for his visual imagination to freewheel with dazzling spontaneity and inventiveness.’
    • ‘From there to the end Milltown could afford to freewheel a little bit, with points from O'Shea and Dowling merely for statistical purposes.’
    • ‘If I'm a radio talk show host, whatever I do, I can freewheel, because then I'm only answering for myself.’
    • ‘There are suggestions his players wanted more licence to freewheel - in short throw the ball about, be expressive.’
    • ‘He used to freewheel with Goldie Hawn and it was all too easy.’
    • ‘The spark had gone and, with the flow of the game interrupted by substitutions, the home side freewheeled through a disappointing second period.’


  • 1A bicycle wheel which is able to revolve freely when no power is being applied to the pedals.

    • ‘What are the pros and cons of such freewheels and how available are they?’
    • ‘Track bikes have no breaks, only one gear and there is no free wheel, which means there is no coasting.’
    • ‘Both the Combi and Classic have the clutch wheel mounted in front and the free wheel in the rear.’
    • ‘Most cycle mechanics do not overhaul freewheels, it is usually much easier just to replace them.’
    • ‘It had wooden rims and no free wheel, but I thought it was a wonderful possession.’
    1. 1.1 A device in a motor vehicle transmission allowing the drive shaft to spin faster than the engine.
      • ‘I've been doing my own work for 20 years, but I can't figure out how to get any lube into the freewheel, much less how to actually open it up.’
      • ‘He showed us how surprisingly easy it is to open the freewheel and service the bearings or pawls, although I doubt the sealed mechanism requires much maintenance.’
      • ‘You will have to build another rim onto that hub so that you can twist the hub hard enough to unscrew the freewheel.’
      • ‘There are also current models of freewheels that do not have an adequate design for removal.’
      • ‘If it is too tight and you can get the freewheel off, you can loosen it much more easily by just using the cone wrenches.’