Definition of free in US English:


adjectivefreer, freest

  • 1Not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes.

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

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

    ‘she spent her free time shopping’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘McKay is not the only one who used her free time to help make the patients more comfortable.’
    • ‘With more free time on their hands, many of them plan extended cruising around these docks.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Be sure to leave August 14 free with a home coming dance in the Royal Oak Hall.’
    • ‘So my weekend is now open and free, and I'm planning on doing as little as possible.’
    • ‘The calendar is already packed and finding an extra free week in which to hold a semi-final round has proved impossible.’
    • ‘They therefore have free time and energy which they want to put to use.’
    • ‘The legal knowledge is acquired by apprenticeship to a qualified agent, studying in your free time for the qualifying exams.’
    • ‘A number of major companies are not represented because their directors are not free that weekend.’
    • ‘Sometimes we allow Andy unlimited free time to pursue his interests.’
    unoccupied, not at work, not working, not busy, not tied up, between appointments, off duty, off work, off, on holiday, on leave
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 (of a facility or piece of equipment) not occupied or in use.
      ‘the bathroom was free’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I often found it difficult to find a free changing room.’
      • ‘As soon as the bathroom's free I'm having a long hot soak!’
      • ‘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.’
      vacant, empty, available, spare, unoccupied, untaken, unfilled, unused, not in use
      View synonyms
  • 4free of/frompredicative Not subject to or affected by (a specified thing, typically an undesirable one)

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

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

    ‘she was always free with her money’
    • ‘If only he was as free with his tolerance as he is with his mouth he'd have something worth exporting.’
    • ‘With the current turmoil in the US economy one wonders if people will be quite so free with their money on luxuries this year.’
    • ‘Why are these girls so free with their kisses and why aren't I on the receiving end?’
    • ‘Ariola, who is no longer cold, but is free with her kisses, is told that her period of amorous governance is almost finished.’
    • ‘Now here he was, being just as free with his mercy as he always told us to be.’
    • ‘On second thoughts, since you are so free with your money, what about marrying Hillary?’
    • ‘Kirby had not been so free with her expressions of emotions since her mother passed away.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A lot of Caribbean people are pretty free with their words.’
    generous, lavish, liberal, open-handed, unstinting, giving, munificent, bountiful, bounteous, charitable, extravagant, prodigal
    View synonyms
    1. 6.1 Frank or unrestrained in speech, expression, or action.
      ‘he was free in his talk of revolution’
      • ‘He is someone who doesn't live by any rules and you can clearly see that he's very free in his approach.’
      • ‘Mrs S and I enjoy nothing more than a free and frank exchange of views.’
      • ‘The argument is that this will stifle free and frank discussion.’
      • ‘He is an impulsive man, very free in his talk.’
      • ‘It is perhaps this faith, that has enabled her to be so free in her art so there are always new ideas, new approaches.’
      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 in manner.
      • ‘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
      View synonyms
  • 7(of a literary style) not observing the strict laws of form.

    • ‘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?’
    • ‘The style is very free; there are no rhymes.’
    1. 7.1 (of a translation) conveying only the broad sense; not literal.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He also published occasional verses, satires, and a free translation from Virgil.’
      flexible, broad, loose, rough, non-restrictive, general, non-literal, non-specific, not literal, not strict, not close
      View synonyms
  • 8Sailing
    (of the wind) blowing from a favorable direction to the side or stern of a vessel.

    • ‘As the wind was free the yachts went merrily along.’
    • ‘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 we had the wind free, the booms were run out, and all were aloft.’
    • ‘The schooner had a free wind, and was substantially running before it.’
    • ‘We had the wind free, and were on port, so one needed at least two pairs of eyes in each boat!’


  • 1Without cost or payment.

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

    • ‘Make sure the sheets and halyards are clear and ready to run free as needed.’
    • ‘Evans calculated the tides perfectly once again, and we had the benefit of three knots free while we raced around the famous headland.’

verbfreed, freeing, frees

[with object]
  • 1Release from captivity, confinement, or slavery.

    ‘they were freed from jail’
    • ‘The operation was a success: the hostages were all freed, unharmed.’
    • ‘He was the first person to greet them when they were finally freed from prison.’
    • ‘Both families held by the gang responsible were later freed unharmed, but deeply traumatised.’
    • ‘Some freed the slaves, other sent them back to their master for lack of means to care for them.’
    • ‘He said they would free all the hostages if police released the rest of the detained protesters.’
    • ‘All bar three of the captives were freed unharmed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The truth is that a hostage was not freed by the kidnappers.’
    • ‘Fourteen years after being freed from jail, he finds himself fighting for justice again.’
    • ‘A few minutes later, the heavily armed hostage-takers freed 25 women and children from the other side of the school.’
    • ‘Would-be saboteurs cut the locks off horse pens at a corral, freeing about 40 wild horses.’
    • ‘After she is freed from slavery, she becomes a teacher, writer, and activist for the black race and for women's rights.’
    • ‘He was freed on parole in August last year after serving half of his one year prison term for assault.’
    • ‘Nine hostages were freed from the building earlier yesterday.’
    • ‘They have led to innocent people being jailed and criminals being freed on legal technicalities.’
    • ‘Many involve men who have been freed by the courts and are thus legally innocent.’
    • ‘The three injured prisoners were also freed and taken to hospital.’
    • ‘He was then freed on bail but remained under electronic surveillance.’
    • ‘Mr Bamford was held in custody for five months before being freed on bail.’
    • ‘He was freed on parole in March having changed his name.’
    release, liberate, discharge, emancipate, set free, let go, set at liberty, set loose, let loose, turn loose, deliver
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Release from physical obstruction, restraint, or entanglement.
      ‘I had to tug hard and at last freed him’
      • ‘Mrs Welsh was trapped in the wreckage and had to be freed by firefighters.’
      • ‘Two tugs from Clyde coastguards tried unsuccessfully to pull the vessel clear and it was freed the next day on the early morning tide.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After three hours the couple were freed by firemen who rescued them from a window.’
      • ‘The powerful one frees himself and unties the bonds of everyone else.’
      • ‘Her hands flailed wildly, searching for anything to help her free herself from his grip.’
      • ‘The outside lane of the northbound carriageway was temporarily closed while the man was freed from the vehicle, causing a two mile tailback.’
      • ‘The two other occupants, sitting in the front and rear passenger side seats, were quickly freed after firefighters removed two doors.’
      • ‘Passers-by came to the guard's aid and freed him from his restraints.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She was freed from her car and rushed to Worcester Royal Infirmary but paramedics and hospital staff were unable to save her.’
      • ‘I was once on a TV programme with an escapologist who freed himself from a sack bound with chains.’
      • ‘He was eventually freed by firefighters and suffered only minor injuries.’
      • ‘They were at the scene for 90 minutes, helping to free the victims and clear the road.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The man was freed from the scaffolding by 4pm and was today recovering in hospital.’
      • ‘He frees his right arm with a jerk.’
      • ‘The motorway was closed as rescuers battled to free casualties from the twisted wreckage of the coach.’
      • ‘It took a crew from the Farnworth station an hour to rip up floorboards and remove the bath to free the kitten.’
      • ‘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.’
      extricate, extract, disentangle, disentwine, disengage, disencumber, loosen, release, remove, get out, pull out, pull free, get loose, get free
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Remove something undesirable or restrictive from.
      ‘his inheritance freed him from financial constraints’
      ‘free your mind and body of excess tension’
      • ‘Diabetics could have their lives dramatically transformed by a new approach, developed in Yorkshire, freeing them of restrictions on their diet.’
      • ‘The event was staged to celebrate the Locomotives on Highways Act, freeing the motorist from the restrictive four miles an hour speed limit.’
      • ‘Performance responds to this dilemma by unlocking the restraints of self identity and freeing students to explore a variety of knowledge claims.’
      • ‘He came to free people, to liberate their minds and hearts from all that bound them.’
      • ‘Once she was freed from the contractual bondage in December 2001, there was no stopping this beauty.’
      • ‘When they become guerrillas the women set themselves free from patriarchal bonds.’
      • ‘Since Arnott is now freed from the constraints of teaching university students, expect more delight from this accomplished sculptor.’
      • ‘Online life can be quite liberating in the way it frees you from your physicality and lets you become something else…’
      • ‘Would my partner and I be freed from the tyranny of having to rise early to provide a nutritious packed lunch for our daughter?’
      • ‘Therefore older women will be freed from the constraint of declining ovarian egg releases.’
      • ‘The FCC is, in effect, holding out the possibility of freeing the networks from restrictions on buying up more stations.’
      • ‘The Internet frees us from the pesky constraints of our physical bodies.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Already the move, which frees the club from restrictive rules, has paid dividends, explained Mr Collins.’
      • ‘Therefore people should be freed from the bondage of religious superstition and empowered to overthrow their leaders.’
      • ‘They must be freed from the shackles of theories.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The office-bearers have also promised to sustain the movement till the country is freed from the clutches of corruption.’
      • ‘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.’
      exempt, make exempt, except, excuse, absolve
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Make available for a particular purpose.
      ‘this will free up funds for development elsewhere’
      • ‘A budget checks frivolous spending, helps you see where your money goes and frees up cash for retirement savings.’
      • ‘This frees up a tremendous amount of floor space to leave room for other needed processes.’
      • ‘A 1970s shopping mall in the middle of the estate could also be flattened to free up more land for homes.’
      • ‘That frees up additional money to invest in bonds.’
      • ‘The changes freed up space in the operating room and also increased market share.’
      • ‘Reining in your spending should free up money that you can use to pay off your credit cards and car loan.’
      • ‘It would free up a lot of time for him to get on with the rest of his life.’
      • ‘The proposed new sixth form block is designed to free up classroom space for the new intake.’
      • ‘Reviewing the other drawers, I realized that two could be combined, which freed up a drawer for the jewelry.’
      • ‘This would free up time for doctors to deal with more serious things.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The primary purpose of the serviced land initiative is to free up land for development.’
      • ‘They can lower your monthly mortgage payments, freeing up cash for other purposes.’
      • ‘Such relief frees up resources, which a government can then devote to aid and reconstruction - or divert to anything else.’
      • ‘In the process, space alongside the line once occupied by cartons of assembly parts has been freed for other purposes.’
      • ‘Staff are then freed up to focus on other, potentially revenue-generating issues.’
      • ‘That frees up general revenue funds which could go to propping up Social Security down the road.’
      • ‘That frees up capital for investments in new technology and industries here.’
      • ‘Supporters believe that this will free up resources to care for the environment and to ensure social progress.’


Free means ‘without charge,’ and a gift is ‘something given without charge.’ The expression “free gift” is therefore a needless repetition


  • a free ride

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

      ‘people have been having a free ride, paying so little rent that there is no money for maintenance’
      • ‘After all, if some grad school offers you a free ride, why shouldn't you take it?’
      • ‘I think he's gotten a little bit of a free ride on some of this stuff.’
      • ‘Are we willing to work for what we need or are we waiting for a free ride?’
      • ‘I suppose they'd prefer taxing the working class to death to ensure a free ride for students?’
      • ‘All last week the government has had a free ride.’
      • ‘This will be tough, since they've had a free ride for so long.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘No one should be stigmatised for his or her lifestyle choice, but surely the law can ensure that no one has a free ride.’
      • ‘With the media as their dedicated cheerleaders, the environmentalists have had a free ride for much too long a time.’
      • ‘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 noncommunist countries of the world, as formerly opposed to the Soviet bloc.

      • ‘Whether you're running for a local council or to lead the free world, it seems the lessons are the same.’
      • ‘There are many politicians in the free world who favor seemingly pragmatic cooperation with repressive regimes.’
      • ‘After 12 years of defiance, he refused to comply with the demands of the free world.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was rightly condemned in the free world, leading to sanctions and boycotts.’
      • ‘The age-old debate on censorship in the so-called free world has returned to the headlines.’
      • ‘The stakes for the security of the free world are too high.’
      • ‘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.’
  • it's a free country

    • Said when asserting that a course of action is not illegal or forbidden, often in justification of it.

      • ‘Their only comment was, it's a free country and he can do anything he wants.’
      • ‘But it's a free country, people can argue what they want.’
      • ‘He is entitled to his opinions, it's a free country.’
      • ‘Clearly, it's a free country, and they have every right to do that.’
      • ‘He says it's no business of mine where he goes after choir practice and it's a free country.’
      • ‘His response is it's a free country and he does not subject anybody to his lifestyle.’
      • ‘I think she is ridiculous, but it's a free country, and she is entitled to her opinion.’
      • ‘Yes, it's a free country, and yes, everyone can say pretty much whatever 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.’
      • ‘In the end it's a free country and if those students chose not to continue with their teaching studies, then so be it.’
  • for free

    • informal Without cost or payment.

      ‘these professionals were giving their time for free’
      • ‘Thousands of people will be able to travel on the trams for free until charging begins next week.’
      • ‘Surely the council should allow the locals, who after all have paid for them in the first place, to park for free.’
      • ‘From the start the festival has proved a popular draw with jazz lovers by offering good music, mostly for free.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Not only are they given away for free at some clinics, but a subscription for the pill at a chemist costs only pennies.’
      • ‘It was always an eccentric business principle, giving things away for free.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is installed for free by the company, which then recoups its cost and makes a profit through the charges.’
  • free and easy

    • Informal and relaxed.

      • ‘In fact, although Americans tell me how much things have tightened up, compared to Britain everything seemed remarkably free and easy.’
      • ‘They had the kind of solid, free and easy friendship that would allow for long stretches of silence in complete comfort.’
      • ‘The high hourly rate gives you a relatively free and easy lifestyle, you know.’
      • ‘Things with Natasha were free and easy, just the way things ought to be.’
      • ‘The fifties were free and easy if you endorsed the status quo, but repressive and suffocating if you did not.’
      • ‘Kara was being free and easy with her invitations.’
      • ‘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’.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When you get home with your child at the end of the workday, keep your time free and easy.’
      easy-going, relaxed, casual, informal, unceremonious, unforced, natural, open, spontaneous, uninhibited, friendly
      View synonyms
  • free, gratis, and for nothing

    • humorous Without charge.

      • ‘In most instances, they perform their duties 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.’
      • ‘If you are on any benefits at all it should be 100% free, gratis and for nothing.’
      • ‘Either is yours if you want it, free, gratis, and for nothing.’
      • ‘I practice my art not for money, but free, gratis, and for nothing.’
  • a free hand

    • Freedom to act at one's own discretion.

      • ‘If the police are given a free hand to solve the law and order problem in the State, they will act accordingly.’
      • ‘The agreement gave management greater ability to transfer workers to new work locations and gave it a free hand to cut thousands of jobs.’
      • ‘He took up the offer, asking only that he be given a free hand to work without interruption.’
      • ‘The Army had a free hand to do whatever was necessary to restore order.’
      • ‘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 head is responsible to the governors but is usually given a free hand to appoint staff, admit pupils and take day-to-day decisions.’
      • ‘The private company will be given a free hand to raise the cost in line with inflation.’
      • ‘And while lorry drivers have to adhere to strict conditions on their driving times, taxi drivers effectively have a free hand.’
      • ‘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 mayor has a free hand to implement an interesting agenda if he wants to.’
      • ‘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
      View synonyms
  • free on board (or rail)

    • Including or assuming delivery without charge to the buyer's named destination.

      • ‘Indian sugar is available for export at $305 a tonne free on board basis, compared with $312 a tonne for Thai sugar.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Mining revenue for 2007 reflects the export coal sold on a ‘Free on Rail’ basis’
      • ‘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.’
  • make free with

    • Treat without ceremony or proper respect.

      ‘he'll have something to say about your making free with his belongings’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The opera does make free with history but the characters of the opera are recognisably the historical characters of popular imagination.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘There, his cup untouched beside him, he made free with the host's collection of books.’
      • ‘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
      View synonyms


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.