Etymology: Middle English, from Old English frēo; akin to Old High German frī free, Welsh rhydd, Sanskrit priya own, dear
Date: before 12th century
a. having the legal and political rights of a citizen
b. enjoying civil and political liberty <free citizens> c. enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination d. enjoying personal freedom ; not subject to the control or domination of another 2. a. not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being ; choosing or capable of choosing for itself b. determined by the choice of the actor or performer <free actions> c. made, done, or given voluntarily or spontaneously 3. a. relieved from or lacking something and especially something unpleasant or burdensome <free from pain> <a speech free of political rhetoric> — often used in combination <error-free> b. not bound, confined, or detained by force 4. a. having no trade restrictions b. not subject to government regulation c. of foreign exchange not subject to restriction or official control 5. a. having no obligations (as to work) or commitments <I'll be free this evening> b. not taken up with commitments or obligations <a free evening> 6. having a scope not restricted by qualification <a free variable> 7. a. not obstructed, restricted, or impeded <free to leave> b. not being used or occupied <waved with his free hand> c. not hampered or restricted in its normal operation 8. a. not fastened <the free end of the rope> b. not confined to a particular position or place <in twelve-tone music, no note is wholly free for it must hold its place in the series — J. L. Stewart> c. capable of moving or turning in any direction <a free particle> d. performed without apparatus <free tumbling> e. done with artificial aids (as pitons) used only for protection against falling and not for support <a free climb> 9. a. not parsimonious <free spending> b. outspoken c. availing oneself of something without stint d. frank, open e. overly familiar or forward in action or attitude f. licentious 10. not costing or charging anything 11. a. (1) not united with, attached to, combined with, or mixed with something else ; separate <free ores> <a free surface of a bodily part> (2) freestanding <a free column> b. chemically uncombined <free oxygen> <free acids> c. not permanently attached but able to move about <a free electron in a metal> d. capable of being used alone as a meaningful linguistic form <the word hats is a free form> — compare bound V,7 12. a. not literal or exact <free translation> b. not restricted by or conforming to conventional forms <free skating> 13. favorable — used of a wind blowing from a direction more than six points from dead ahead 14. not allowing slavery 15. open to all comers • freeness noun Synonyms: free, independent, sovereign, autonomous mean not subject to the rule or control of another. free stresses the complete absence of external rule and the full right to make all of one's own decisions <you're free to do as you like>. independent implies a standing alone; applied to a state it implies lack of connection with any other having power to interfere with its citizens, laws, or policies <the colony's struggle to become independent>. sovereign stresses the absence of a superior power and implies supremacy within a thing's own domain or sphere <separate and sovereign armed services>. autonomous stresses independence in matters pertaining to self-government <in this denomination each congregation is regarded as autonomous>. II. transitive verb (freed; freeing) Date: before 12th century 1. a. to cause to be free b. to relieve or rid of what restrains, confines, restricts, or embarrasses <free a person from debt> — often used with up <free up space on the hard drive> c. disentangle, clear 2. obsolete banish • freer noun Synonyms: free, release, liberate, emancipate, manumit mean to set loose from restraint or constraint. free implies a usually permanent removal from whatever binds, confines, entangles, or oppresses <freed the animals from their cages>. release suggests a setting loose from confinement, restraint, or a state of pressure or tension, often without implication of permanent liberation <released his anger on a punching bag>. liberate stresses particularly the resulting state of liberty <liberated their country from the tyrant>. emancipate implies the liberation of a person from subjection or domination <labor-saving devices emancipated us from household drudgery>. manumit implies emancipation from slavery <the document manumitted the slaves>. III. adverb Date: 1559 1. in a free manner 2. without charge 3. with the wind more than six points from dead ahead <sailing free>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.