free Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “free” in the English Dictionary

"free" in British English

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freeadjective, adverb

uk   us   /friː/
  • free adjective, adverb (NOT LIMITED)

B2 not ​limited or ​controlled: [+ to infinitive] Am I free (= do I have ​permission) toleave now? I'll give you a ​key, so you'll be free to come and go as you like. Please feel free tointerrupt me if you don't ​understand anything. The ​agreement gives ​companies free access to the ​markets of ​membercountries. A ​greatdeal has been ​achieved, most ​notably free elections (= ​elections in which ​people can ​vote as they ​wish).free and easy relaxed and ​informal: The ​atmosphere in the ​office is ​fairly free and ​easy.

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  • free adjective, adverb (NO CHARGE)

A2 costing nothing, or not ​needing to be ​paid for: I got some free ​cinematickets. Members all ​receive a free ​copy of the ​monthlynewsletter. The ​elderlytravel free on ​publictransport. We will ​installyourwashingmachine free of ​charge/for free (= without ​charge).

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  • free adjective, adverb (NOT IN PRISON)

B2 not a ​prisoner any ​longer, or having ​unlimitedmovement: She ​left the ​court a free woman after the ​case against her ​collapsed because of a ​legaltechnicality. The new ​government has ​decided to set all ​politicalprisoners free. She went/​walked free after the ​charges against her were ​dropped. I ​let the ​dogsrun free in the ​park.

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  • free adjective, adverb (LOOSE)

not in a ​fixedposition or not ​joined to anything: Both ​bookcasesstand free of the ​wall. The ​bolts have ​worked themselves free because of the ​vibrations. Rescuers took several ​hours to ​cut the ​survivors free from the ​wreckage.

freeadjective

uk   us   /friː/
  • free adjective (NOT BUSY)

A2 not doing anything ​planned or ​important, or ​available to be used: I do a lot of ​reading in my free time. She's in a ​meeting at the ​moment, but she should be free tosee you in ten ​minutes. I'm ​working in the ​café all this ​week, but I've got a free ​evening next ​Monday. Excuse me, is this ​seat free (= is anyone ​intending to ​sit in this ​seat)? We ​queued for ​half an ​hourwaiting for a free ​space in the ​carpark. If you take these ​bags, that will give me a free ​hand to ​open the ​door.

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  • free adjective (GIVING/USING OFTEN)

free with giving or using often or in ​largeamounts: He's ​rather free with his wife's ​money. She's very free with ​advice but she never ​seems to ​act on it herself. He's very free with his ​criticism!make free with UK disapproving to use something that ​belongs to someone ​else a lot: Don't her ​parentsmind her making free with ​theirhouse while they're on ​holiday?
  • free adjective (CHEMICAL)

specialized chemistry If an ​element is free, it is not ​combined with anything ​else or ​attached to anything ​else: free ​oxygen/​nitrogen

freeverb

uk   us   /friː/
  • free verb (NOT IN PRISON)

B2 [T] to ​allow someone to ​leave a ​prison or ​place where they have been ​kept: After a ten-hour ​siege the ​gunmanagreed to free the ​hostages. The ​prisoner was fromjail.

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Phrasal verbs

-freesuffix

uk   us   /-friː/
  • -free suffix (NO CHARGE)

used at the end of words to ​mean "without having to ​pay": They ​agreed to ​let us ​live there ​rent-free. Many ​banks are now ​offering interest-free ​overdrafts to ​students.
(Definition of free from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"free" in American English

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freeadjective, adverb

 us   /fri/
  • free adjective, adverb (NOT LIMITED)

[-er/-est only] not ​limited or ​controlled: [+ to infinitive] You are free to come and go as you ​please. [+ to infinitive] Please ​feel free to ​askquestions. Free ​elections will be ​held in two ​months.
  • free adjective, adverb (NOT IN PRISON)

not or no ​longer a ​prisoner or an ​enslavedperson: She ​left the ​court a free woman. In the 1700s, Mamaroneck was ​home to a free ​blackcommunity.
  • free adjective, adverb (NO CHARGE)

[not gradable] costing nothing; not ​needing to be ​paid for: When you ​buy a ​dinner for over $10, you get a ​soda free. We will ​installyourwashingmachine free of ​charge (= without ​cost).
  • free adjective, adverb (NOT HELD)

[-er/-est only] not ​held in a ​fixedposition or not ​joined to anything: He ​grabbed the free end of the ​rope. Mechanics ​checked the ​plane to ​see if any of the ​bolts had ​worked themselves free.

freeadjective

 us   /fri/
  • free adjective (NOT BUSY)

[not gradable] not doing anything ​planned or ​important, or not being used: We have ​plans for ​Fridaynight but we’re free the ​rest of the ​weekend. I do a lot of ​reading in my free ​time.
  • free adjective (WITHOUT)

[-er/-est only] not having something that is ​unwanted or ​unpleasant: After many ​months of ​treatment, she was ​declared free of ​disease.

freeverb

 us   /fri/
  • free verb (RELEASE FROM PRISON)

[T] to ​allow someone to ​leave a ​prison or ​place where they have been ​kept: The ​hostages were all freed.
  • free verb (RELEASE FROM LIMITS)

[T] to ​release someone or something from ​limits or ​controls: [+ to infinitive] The ​inheritance freed him to ​travel.
  • free verb (RELEASE FROM DUTY)

[T always + adv/prep] to ​release someone from something that is ​unwanted or ​unpleasant: He ​longed to be freed of all his ​obligations.
  • free verb (MAKE LOOSE)

[T] to ​release someone or something that is ​physicallyheld or trapped: They ​worked to free the man trapped in the ​wreckage of his ​car.
Phrasal verbs

-freesuffix

 us   /fri/
without: tax-free toll-free The ​superintendentlives here rent-free.
(Definition of free from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"free" in Business English

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freeadjective

uk   us   /friː/
costing nothing: They received two free ​return air-tickets every ​year. Tomorrow, ​shoppers will receive free ​samples of the store's famous chocolate ​chipcookies.free to/for sb The Bank's 3,030 ​ATMs would continue to be free to everyone.
not ​limited or ​controlled: We know that freedom and ​opportunity can truly ​thrive in a free ​society that is also a ​responsiblesociety. The ​websitespokesperson said that its ​opinions are ​protected as free speech.be free to do sth Members of the ​publicbuyingdirect from an ​insurer are free to ​inquire about its ​securityrating.
something that is free is ​available to be used because no one else is using it: Is this ​desk free?
not in a ​fixedposition or not ​joined to anything: free to do sth With the autocue, your ​hands and ​head are free to communicate body ​language more powerfully.
not doing anything ​planned or important: free to do sth Are you free to ​attend tomorrow's ​boardmeeting?
not having something that is ​unwanted: free from sth Members must be free from ​politics and outside ​influences when making decisions.free of sth They proved through ​testing that their ​products were free of ​contamination.
there's no such thing as a free lunch used to say that nothing is free ​even if it appears to be, for ​example, if someone gives you something they probably want something back from you in ​return
See also

freeadverb

uk   us   /friː/
without having to ​pay for something: They are then given a ​businessaccount free of ​charge by the ​bank. You can ​access the ​onlinedatabase for free.

freeverb [T]

uk   us   /friː/
to make something ​available for someone to use: free (up) sth The ​chairman has promised tough ​action to ​cutcosts and free up ​funds to ​growcorebusinesses.
to ​remove the ​limits or ​controls on someone or something: free sth from sth The basic ​aim is to free the ​housingmarket from ​councilcontrol.

-freesuffix

(also free)
used at the end of words to ​mean 'without': It is supposed to be virtually pollution-free and ​produce both electricity and hydrogen. The ​returns are not risk-free.tax-/interest-/duty-free Your husband could put the ​money in a ​tax-freecashISA.
(Definition of free from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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