Meaning of “free” in the English Dictionary

"free" in British English

See all translations

freeadjective, adverb

uk /friː/ us /friː/

free adjective, adverb (NOT LIMITED)

B2 not limited or controlled:

[ + to infinitive ] Am I free (= do I have permission) to leave now?
I'll give you a key, so you'll be free to come and go as you like.
Please feel free to interrupt me if you don't understand anything.
The agreement gives companies free access to the markets of member countries.
A great deal 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.

More examples

  • Feel free to help yourself to coffee.
  • I do a lot of reading in my free time.
  • We like to get the marketing done on Thursdays so we can have the weekend free.
  • The recent free elections mark the next step in the country's progress towards democracy.
  • The very concept of free speech is unknown to them.

free adjective, adverb (NO CHARGE)

A2 costing nothing, or not needing to be paid for:

I got some free cinema tickets.
Members all receive a free copy of the monthly newsletter.
We will install your washing machine free of charge/for free (= without charge).

More examples

  • Adults pay an admission charge but children get in free.
  • The books will be distributed free to local schools.
  • All the carpets we sell are fitted free.
  • They fixed my watch free of charge.
  • Adults pay an admission charge but children get in free.

free adjective, adverb (NOT IN PRISON)

B2 not a prisoner any longer, or having unlimited movement:

She left the court a free woman after the case against her collapsed because of a legal technicality.
The new government has decided to set all political prisoners free.
She went/walked free after the charges against her were dropped.
I let the dogs run free in the park.

More examples

  • Don't you think that allowing a criminal to go free is perhaps better than imprisoning an innocent person?
  • He went free because the jury decided there was a reasonable doubt about his guilt.
  • The police reasoned with the hijackers to at least let the children go free.
  • The Court of Appeal reversed the earlier judgment and set him free.
  • After years in prison, the men who had wrongfully been found guilty of the bombing were finally set free.

Idiom(s)

freeadjective

uk /friː/ 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 to see 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 hour waiting for a free space in the car park.
If you take these bags, that will give me a free hand to open the door.

More examples

  • I've got something on this Tuesday, but I'm free on Wednesday.
  • I just wanted to ask you if you're free this afternoon.
  • We like to get the marketing done on Thursdays so we can have the weekend free.
  • Are you free at lunchtime?
  • She's never at home because she spends all her free time at hockey practices.

free adjective (GIVING/USING OFTEN)

free with

giving or using often or in large amounts:

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 parents mind her making free with their house while they're on holiday?

freeverb

uk /friː/ 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 gunman agreed to free the hostages.
The prisoner was from jail.

More examples

  • The government pursued every official channel to free the hostages.
  • She was freed from prison through the agency of her doctor.
  • She never gave up the struggle to have her son freed from prison.
  • Most political prisoners were freed under the terms of the amnesty.
  • The campaigners appealed to the government to free the prisoners.

Phrasal verb(s)

-freesuffix

uk / -friː/ us / -friː/

(Definition of “free” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"free" in American English

See all translations

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.
Free elections will be held in two months.

free adjective, adverb (NOT IN PRISON)

not or no longer a prisoner or an enslaved person:

She left the court a free woman.
In the 1700s, Mamaroneck was home to a free black community.

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 install your washing machine free of charge (= without cost).

free adjective, adverb (NOT HELD)

[ -er/-est only ] not held in a fixed position 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 Friday night 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:

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 physically held or trapped:

They worked to free the man trapped in the wreckage of his car.

Phrasal verb(s)

-freesuffix

us /fri/

without:

tax-free
The superintendent lives here rent-free.

(Definition of “free” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"free" in Business English

See all translations

freeadjective

uk /friː/ us

costing nothing:

They received two free return air-tickets every year.
Tomorrow, shoppers will receive free samples of the store's famous chocolate chip cookies.
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 responsible society.
The website spokesperson said that its opinions are protected as free speech.
be free to do sth Members of the public buying direct from an insurer are free to inquire about its security rating.

something that is free is available to be used because no one else is using it:

Is this desk free?

not in a fixed position 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 board meeting?

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 /friː/ us

without having to pay for something:

They are then given a business account free of charge by the bank.
You can access the online database for free.

freeverb [ T ]

uk /friː/ us

to make something available for someone to use:

free (up) sth The chairman has promised tough action to cut costs and free up funds to grow core businesses.

to remove the limits or controls on someone or something:

free sth from sth The basic aim is to free the housing market from council control.

-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-free cash ISA.

(Definition of “free” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)