From the second edition (1989):
free, a., n., and adv.
(friː) Forms: 1 frío, fréo, freoh, frioh, frí, frý, frí, 2–3 fri(e, 3–4 freo, (3 south. vreo), 4 fry, frey, south. vry, vri, 6 frye, 6–7 (chiefly Sc.) frie, 2–6 fre, 4– free. [Com. Teut.: OE. fréo, frío, fri corresponds to OFris. frî, OS. frî (recorded only as n. and in the compound frî-lîk; Du. vrij), OHG. frî (MHG. vrî, mod.Ger. frei), ON. *frí-r (lost exc. in the compound friáls:—*frî-hals ‘free-necked’, free; the mod.Icel. frí, Sw., Da. fri are adopted from Ger.), Goth. frei-s:—OTeut. *frijo- free:—OAryan *priyo-, represented by Skr. priyá dear, Welsh rhŷdd free, f. root *pri to love (Skr. prî to delight, endear; OSl. prijatelĭ friend, Goth. frijôn, OE. fréon to love, whence friend).
The primary sense of the adj. is ‘dear’; the Germanic and Celtic sense comes of its having been applied as the distinctive epithet of those members of the household who were connected by ties of kindred with the head, as opposed to the slaves. The converse process of sense-development appears in Lat. līberī ‘children’, literally the ‘free’ members of the household.]


A. adj. I. Not in bondage to another.


1. a. Of persons: Not bound or subject as a slave is to his master; enjoying personal rights and liberty of action as a member of a society or state.

c888 K. Ælfred Boeth. xli. §2 Gif hwylc swiþe rice cyning‥næfde nænne fryne [MS. Cott. freone] mon on eallon his rice, ac wæron ealle þeowe. c1000 Ælfric Exod. xxi. 2 Þeowie he six er and beo him freoh on þam seofoðan. a1300 Cursor M. 6708 (Gött.) Qua-so smytes vte his thrales eye‥He sal him make fre and quite. 1535 Coverdale Job iii. 19 The bonde man, and he that is fre from his master. 1606 Shakes. Ant. & Cl. iv. xiv. 81 When I did make thee free. 1610 —— Temp. i. ii. 442 Delicate Ariel, I'll set thee free for this. 1657 R. Ligon Barbadoes (1673) 16 These are free Negroes, and wear‥the badge of their freedom. 1841 Lane Arab. Nts. I. 65 It sometimes happens, though rarely, that free girls are sold as slaves.


b. fig. (esp. in a spiritual sense = not in bondage to sin).

c975 Rushw. Gosp. John viii. 36 Gif forðon sunu iow efrioð soðlice frio e bioðon. c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 101 He hadde maked hem fre of þe deules þralsipe. 1513 Douglas Æneis x. iii. 84 Of the fatis fre [orig. libera fati]. 1610 Shakes. Temp. Epil. 20 As you from crimes would pardon'd be, Let your indulgence set me free. 1611 Bible Gal. v. 1. 1643 Denham Cooper's Hill 130 Who‥free from Conscience, is a slave to Fame. 1695 Ld. Preston Boeth. iv. 194 Everything is by so much the freer from Fate.


c. Of or belonging to free men. free labour: the labour of free men (in contradistinction to that of slaves).

1856 Olmsted Slave States 100 He is satisfied that at present free-labor is more profitable than slave-labor.


d. Colloq. phr. to be free, white and (over) twenty-one: to be a free agent.

1929 J. Buchan Courts of Morning ii. xiv. 346 We're all of us free, white, twenty-one, and hairy-chested, and we know how to be kind to a pretty girl. 1952 D. Ames Murder, Maestro, Please xix. 138 She's free, white and—no, I guess she's not twenty-one. 1958 J. Cannan And be a Villain iii. 59 You're free, white and twenty-one. He couldn't make you go there. 1962 M. Carleton Dread Sunset (1963) v. 108 What could I do when she insisted?‥ She was free, white and, heaven knows, well over twenty-one!


2. a. Of a state, its citizens, institutions, etc.: Enjoying civil liberty; existing under a government which is not arbitrary or despotic, and does not encroach upon individual rights. Also, not subject to foreign dominion.

1375 Barbour Bruce i. 219 Al[a]s! that folk, that euir wes fre‥War tretyt than sa wykkytly. 1382 Wyclif 1 Macc. xi. 31 And Jerusalem be holy and free, with his coostis. 1611 Shakes. Cymb. iii. i. 49 Till the iniurious Romans did extort This Tribute from vs, we were free. 1667 Milton P.L. i. 259 Here at least We shall be free. 1769 [see press n.1 12f]. 1770 Junius Lett. xxxvii. 184 He is king of a free people. 1792 Residence in France (1797) I. 155 France is now the freeest country in the world. 1802 Wordsw., Sonn., ‘It is not to be thought of that the flood’, We must be free or die, who speak the tongue That Shakspeare spake. 1817–18 Cobbett Resid. U.S. (1822) 21 Is it not a mockery to call a man free, who no more dares turn out his tallow into candles for his own use, than he dares rob upon the highway? 1829 W. E. Channing Wks. (1886) 633/1 Through a free press, all public measures should be brought before the tribunal of the people. 1867 Smiles Huguenots Eng. xi. (1880) 187 Holland‥became the chief European centre of free thought, free religion, and free industry. 1888 E. Bellamy Looking Backward xv. 229 A free newspaper press‥was a redeeming incident of the old system. 1946 Observer 10 Feb. 3/3 Britain would have a better chance of recapturing her share of the world markets with a ‘free’ economy than with nationalised industries. 1948 J. M. Murry (title) The free society. 1951 I. Shaw Troubled Air xxi. 347 The benefits of a free society extended from one end of the economic spectrum to the others. 1968 Guardian 23 Aug. 9/1 Surprise grew into something like amazement at BBC monitoring stations yesterday as ‘free’ Czechoslovak broadcasts continued to be transmitted on eight normal wavebands. 1971 P. Worsthorne Socialist Myth vii. 143 The inevitably fissiparous tendencies of a free society.


b. Colloq. phr. it's a free country: a catch-phrase asserting a person's rights as an individual, implying that the action proposed is not illegal.

1863 [see steam n. 7d]. 1885 ‘F. Anstey’ Tinted Venus iv. 51 It's a free country, this is! 1911 A. Bennett Card i. 17 Well, you go and do it. It's a free country. 1939 N. Streatfeild Luke 244 Why stop with her if she was always nagging about her soul? That's what gets me. After all it's a free country. 1962 ‘H. Calvin’ System i. 13 ‘A girl could do worse,’ she said sullenly. ‘It's a free country, isn't it?’ 1971 R. J. White Second-hand Tomb i. 19 ‘Nuns and photographers.’ ‘Only one of each,’ said Margaret. ‘And it's a free country.’


c. In recent specific collocations. (i) Used in titles to denote those who continued resistance to Germany in the 1939–45 war after the capitulation of their respective countries.

1940 Times (Weekly ed.) 27 Nov. 11 He dwelt on the importance of the war in the Mediterranean theatre and of the part that Free France could play there in snatching triumph out of defeat. 1941 Ibid. 5 Feb. 15 Gen. de Gaulle, leader of the Free French forces. 1941 C. Graves Life Line 4 To-day we have the scattered remnants of the Free French, Free Dutch, Free Polish, and Free Norwegian Fleets to render certain assistance. 1944 H. G. Wells '42 to '44 150 Vice-Admiral Muselier was appointed Commander of the Free French naval and air forces. 1965 B. Sweet-Escott Baker St. Irreg. ii. 52 What the refugees themselves seemed to have in mind was that we should recognize them as a ‘Free Rumanian’ or a ‘Free Bulgarian’ movement. 1965 A. J. P. Taylor Eng. Hist. 1914–1945 xiv. 527 German aeroplanes were using air~bases in Syria: Wavell must intervene there also, in cooperation with the Free French.


(ii) free world: a name used of themselves collectively by non-communist countries; so free Europe.

1950 Time 17 July 32/3 A branch of the National Committee for a Free Europe founded last year by a group of private U.S. citizens. 1955 Ann. Reg. 1954 241 There was the Council of Free Czechoslovakia‥the ‘rats and jackals’ of Radio Free Europe. 1955 Bull. Atomic Sci. Feb. 42/3 The Soviet World and the Free World are running neck and neck in the training of scientists. 1957 BBC Handbk. 169 Throughout free Europe from Norway to the Turco-Soviet frontier. 1958 Listener 7 Aug. 185/2 The scale of human values‥which distinguishes the free world from the Communist world. 1963 Guardian 19 Apr. 11/2 The free-world countries involved were Britain and Greece.


(iii) In various other collocations, e.g. of or pertaining to subversive movements inside a country.

1968 N.Y. Rev. Books 11 July 34/3 We have been unimpressed by the supposedly free universities established on the peripheries of major universities.‥ What is wanted are really new ways of learning, not additional courses taught by Marxists and acidheads. 1969 Guardian 16 Sept. 11/3 The absurd romanticism of Free Belfast.


3. Noble, honourable, of gentle birth and breeding. In ME. a stock epithet of compliment. Often in alliterative phr. fair and free. Obs.

a1000 Cædmon's Gen. 1642 (Gr.) Ða wearþ Seme suna & dohtra‥worn afeded, freora bearna. c1000 Ags. Ps. lvi[i]. 9 Ic þe on folcum frine Drihten ecne andete. c1290 S. Eng Leg. I. 109/100 Þe Amirales douȝter‥þat was so fair and fre. 1297 R. Glouc. (1724) 420 Of fayrost fourme & maners, & mest ȝentyl & fre. a1300 Cursor M. 8121 Als milk þair [Ethiopians'] hide becom sa quite And o fre blod þai had þe heu. 13‥ E.E. Allit. P. A. 795 My joy, my blys, my lemman fre. ?a1366 Chaucer Rom. Rose 633 Mirthe, that is so fair and free. c1384 —— H. Fame i. 442 His fader Anchises the free. c1460 Towneley Myst. (Surtees) 125 For to wyrship that chyld so fre. c1489 Caxton Sonnes of Aymon ix. 199 They met wyth damp Rambault the free knyght. c1554 Interlude of Youth in Hazl. Dodsley II. 20 To have a sight I would be fain Of that lady free. 1632 Milton L'Allegro 11 Thou Goddess fair and free.


4. a. Hence in regard to character and conduct: Noble, honourable, generous, magnanimous. Obs.

a1300 Cursor M. 25524 Þat ilk time þou mistred þe, Suet iesu! wit hert sa fre, To maria magdalene. c1400 Destr. Troy 525 ‘Now frynd’, quod þat faire, ‘as ye bene fre holden, Will ye suffer me to say, and the sothe telle?’ 1559 Mirr. Mag., Salisbury xviii, Vertuous life, fre hart and lowly mind. 1594 H. Willobie in Shaks. C. Praise 10 You must be secret, constant, free. 1604 Shakes. Oth. iii. iii. 199, I would not have your free and noble nature, Out of self-bounty, be abused.


b. Of studies: Liberal; = L. ingenuæ (artes).

1422 tr. Secreta Secret., Priv. Priv. (E.E.T.S.) 150 He sholde make his chyldryn to lerne fre Sciencis of Clergi.


II. Released, loose, unrestricted.


5. a. At liberty; allowed to go where one wishes, not kept in confinement or custody. †free keeping = L. libera custodia. Also, released from confinement or imprisonment, liberated. Phr. to set free, let go free, etc. (Also fig.)

1483 Caxton Gold. Leg. 206/2 And ii yere he was in free kepyng and disputed ayenst the Jewes. 1585 T. Washington tr. Nicholay's Voy. i. xx. 24b, He wold‥set them at free deliverance. 1608 Shakes. Per. iv. vi. 107 O that the gods Would set me free from this unhallow'd place! 1720 De Foe Capt. Singleton xvi. (1840) 269 We would let them go free. a1721 Prior Love disarmed 25 Set an unhappy pris'ner free, Who ne'er intended harm to thee. 1824 Syd. Smith Wks. (1859) II. 37/2 We use no compulsion with untried prisoners. You are free as air till you are found guilty. 1871 Morley Voltaire 2 Calvin‥set free all those souls.


b. Of animals: Not kept in confinement, at liberty to range abroad.

1393 Langl. P. Pl. C. xii. 250 Godes foules and hus free bestes. 1697 Dryden Æneid vi. 889 Their Steeds around, Free from their Harness, graze the flow'ry Ground. 1844 A. B. Welby Poems (1867) 35 The round blue heaven is all thine own, O free and happy bird! 1849 Macaulay Hist. Eng. I. 312 Deer, as free as in an American forest, wandered there by thousands.


6. a. Released from ties, obligations, or constraints upon one's action.

1596 Shakes. Tam. Shr. i. i. 142 Till by helping Baptista's eldest daughter to a husband we set his youngest free for a husband. a1605 Montgomerie Commend. of Love 1, I rather far be fast nor frie, Albeit I micht my mynd remove. 1606 Shakes. Ant. & Cl. ii. v. 57 Free, madam! no‥He's bound unto Octavia. a1721 Prior Song, ‘Phillis, since we’ 18 We both have spent our stock of love, So consequently should be free. 1859 Autobiog. Beggar-boy 2 Since I was what may be termed a free man; or, in other words, since I became independent.


b. Released or exempt from work or duty.

1697 Dryden Virg. Georg. ii. 640 The Swain, who, free from Business and Debate, Receives his easy Food from Nature's Hand. 1700 S. L. tr. Fryke's Voy. E. Ind. 300 They watch and are free by turns in the day-time, but at night they must all be in the Fort. a1715 Burnet Own Time (1766) II. 37 Coleman had a whole day free to make his escape. c1818 Sir R. Peel in Croker Papers (1884) I. iv. 116 A fortnight hence I shall be free as air.


7. Guiltless, innocent, acquitted. Const. from, of (a crime or offence). ? Obs.

1602 Shakes. Ham. iii. ii. 252 Your Maiestie and wee that haue free soules, it touches vs not. Ibid. v. ii. 343 Laer. Mine and my Fathers death come not vpon thee, Nor thine on me. Ham. Heauen make thee free of it. 1637 Rutherford Let. 23 Sep. (1891) 521, I am free from the blood of all men, for I have communicated to you the whole counsel of God. 1657 R. Ligon Barbadoes (1673) 3 A man that hath a free heart, and a good Conscience. 1678 Dryden & Lee Œdipus iii. i. (end), My hands are guilty, but my heart is free.


8. a. Of actions, activity, motion, etc.: Unimpeded, unrestrained, unrestricted, unhampered. Also of persons: Unfettered in their action.

a1300 Cursor M. 13079 Þe king þam lete haf fre entre. c1400 Lanfranc's Cirurg. 152 Þe necke schal nevere have his free mevynge. 1463 Bury Wills (Camden) 22 Fre owth goyng and in comyng. 1535 Coverdale 2 Thess. iii. 1 That the worde of God maye haue fre passage. 1598 Shakes. Merry W. iii. ii. 86 We shall haue the freer woing at Mr Pages. 1613 Purchas Pilgrimage (1614) 292 That the water may have free passage to all parts. 1655 Fuller Ch. Hist. v. iii. §62 Whilst each Bishop in his respective Diocesse, Priest in his Parish, were freer than formerly in execution of their Office. 1664 H. More Myst. Iniq. Apol. 552 As if one, while his friend was stooping, should fetch a freer stroke at their common Enemy. 1713 Berkeley Guardian No. 49 ⁋7 [A] library that I have free access to. 1791 Mrs. Radcliffe Rom. Forest vi, Her dress, which was loosened for the purpose of freer respiration. 1828 Ld. Grenville Sink. Fund p. viii, Without the free examination of previously received opinion, no branch of human knowledge can ever be advanced. 1851 Ruskin Stones Ven. xvii. (1874) I. 188 They have free admission of the light of Heaven. 1875 Jowett Plato (ed. 2) III. 112 The various passions are allowed to have free play.


b. phr. (to have or give) a free hand: liberty of action in affairs that one has to deal with. So to have one's hands free.

1869 Freeman Norm. Conq. (1876) III. xiv. 329 Harold thus had his hands free. 1890 J. Corbett Drake ix. 117 He was given a free hand to act against the East and West India convoys. 1895 Col. Maurice in United Service Mag. July 414 No one ever had, in the composition of any history‥a freer hand or more ample resources.


c. with to and inf.: At liberty, allowed, or permitted to do something. Also, †permitted by one's conscience, feeling it right to do something.

c1386 Chaucer Wife's Prol. 49, I am free To wedde, a goddes half, wher it lyketh me. 1666 Pepys Diary 1 May, Thomas Pepys did come to me, to consult about‥his being a Justice of the Peace, which he is much against‥[He] tells me, as a confidant, that he is not free to exercise punishment‥against Quakers and other people, for religion. 1667 Milton P.L. iii. 99, I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall. 1697 W. Dampier Voy. I. iii. 31 Privateers are not obliged to any Ship, but free to go ashore where they please. 1812 H. & J. Smith Horace in Lond. 83 He's free to sow discord in German plantations. 1818 Scott Hrt. Midl. xix, If ye arena free in conscience to speak for her in the court of judicature. 1840 Dickens Old C. Shop xxxi, She was free to come and go. 1876 Smiles Sc. Natur. iii. (ed. 4) 59 Some occupation that would leave him freer to move about.


d. Not fettered in judgement; unbiased, open-minded.

1653 H. More Antid. Ath. i. xi. (1712) 35, I appeal to any free Judge. Ibid. iii. xvi. (1712) 141 His own words are so free and ingenuous. 1686 Burnet Trav. i. (1750) 60, I wish they had larger and freer Souls.


e. Showing absence of constraint or timidity in one's movements.

1849 James Woodman vii, The traveller came forward with a bold, free step.


f. spec. in Cricket. Applied to (one who adopts) an unrestrained style of batting.

1851 J. Pycroft Cricket Field iv. 59 In olden time the freest hitter was the best batsman. Ibid. x. 203 Many a man‥whose talent lies in defence, tries free hitting, and between the two proves good for nothing. 1860 Baily's Mag. Aug. 387 His 45 and 30 were made in a fine free style. 1885 Punch 19 Sept. 143/2 Behind the stumps unbeatable, free bat, and slashing field.


9. Of literary or artistic composition, etc.: Not observing strict laws of form; (of a translation, copy, etc.) not adhering strictly to the original.

1813 Tytler Ess. Princ. Transl. (ed. 3) 231 The limits between free translation and paraphrases. 1821 Craig Lect. Drawing vii. 406 A free and tasteful expression of the minute forms in landscape. 1844 Stanley Arnold I. iii. 142 Any mistake of grammar or construction, however dexterously concealed in the folds of a free translation. 1869 Ouseley Counterp. xv. 97 When‥it becomes impossible to follow exactly all the intervals proposed‥The imitation is then said to be Free, or Irregular.


10. a. Allowable or allowed (to or for a person to do something); open or permitted to.

1576 Fleming Panopl. Epist. 216 If that which we have learned, be free for every man to know. 1618 Bolton Florus To Rdr., Be it free, with reverence and modesty, to note over-sights. 1641 J. Jackson True Evang. T. i. 44 It was free to every one to bastinado a Christian where he met him. 1667 Milton P.L. iv. 747 Defaming as impure what God declares Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all. 1709 Hearne Collect. 4 Apr., Ye Copy was‥free to ye View of any one. 1796 Burke Let. Noble Ld. Wks. VIII. 32 His Grace may think as meanly as he will of my deserts‥It is free for him to do so. 1846 Trench Mirac. xxxii. (1862) 452 The ‘twelve legions of Angels’, whom it was free to Him to summon to his aid.


b. Open to all competitors; open for all. free fight: a fight in which all and sundry engage promiscuously.

1870 Lowell Study Wind. 430 The affair became what they call on the frontier a free fight. 1872 Mark Twain Innoc. Abr. xvii. 114 The sailors of a British ship‥challenged our Sailors to a free fight. 1887 Spectator 4 June 759/2 English riots are mere freefights, begun without special premeditation.


c. Philol. Designating a linguistic form that can be used in isolation. Opp. bound ppl. a.2 4b.

1926, 1957 [see bound ppl. a.2 4b].


d. Phonetics. Of a vowel: not followed by a consonant in the same syllable. Opp. checked ppl. a.1 1b.

1895 Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc. X. 306 (heading) ‘Free’ and ‘checked’ vowels in Gallic Popular Latin. 1946 Priebsch & Collinson German Lang. (ed. 2) i. iii. 76 Vowels in absolute final position (‘free’ vowels). 1962 [see checked ppl. a.1 1b].


11. Of a space, way, passage, etc.: Clear of obstructions, open, unobstructed. So of air = freely-circulating, in which one breathes freely.

c1250 Gen. & Ex. 3244 On twel doles delt ist ðe se, xii. weiȝes ðer-in ben faiȝer and fre. a1300 Cursor M. 5932 (Gött.) Froskis‥al þe erde þai couerd sua, A man miht noght fre sett his ta. 1596 Shakes. Tam. Shr. i. ii. 233 Are not the streets as free For me as for you? 1671 Narborough Jrnl. in Acc. Sev. Late Voy. i. (1711) 145 They did meet with no Ice, but a free and open Sea. 1697 Dryden Virg. Georg. i. 47 Where in the Void of Heav'n a Space is free, Betwixt the Scorpion and the Maid for thee. Ibid. iv. 424 They stop his Nostrils, while he strives in vain To breath free Air. 1808 Scott Marm. i. iv, And quickly make the entrance free. 1856 Kane Arct. Expl. I. iii. 35 The wind off shore—with much free water. 1878 Patmore Tamerton Church-Tower i. 9 Our weary spirits flagg'd beneath The still and loaded air; We left behind the freër heath.


12. Clear of (something which is regarded as objectionable or an encumbrance). Const. of, from.

a1300 Cursor M. 5923 Ne was in hus na vessel fre þat watur hild, o stan ne tre, O þis watur þat sua stanc. 1398 Trevisa Barth. De P.R. xv. xlii. (1495) 503 Creta is an ylonde free and clene of venyme. 1670 Narborough Jrnl. in Acc. Sev. Late Voy. i. (1711) 20 Every Man is commanded to keep himself clean, and free from Lice. 1688 R. Holme Armoury iii. 236/2 A Woman all Hairy, no part of her Face free. 1698 Fryer Acc. E. India & P. 117 These places are seldom free from Soldiers and Seamen. 1756 C. Lucas Ess. Waters III. 120 There is hardly any mine‥free from pyrite. 1854 G. B. Richardson Univ. Code v. (ed. 12) 4105, I can keep free with the pumps. 1860 Tyndall Glac. i. xix. 135 [Glacier] Ice, singularly free from air-bubbles. 1885 Law Times LXXIX. 176/1 The main travelling ways‥had been‥reported free from any accumulation of foul gas.


13.a. Of a bird's flight: Agile, swift. Obs.

1657 R. Ligon Barbadoes (1673) 4 Her ordinary flying‥is commonly more free than the best Haggard Faulcon. Ibid., A kind of sea Hawk‥of a far freer wing, and of a longer continuance.


b. Naut. Of the wind: Not adverse (see quot. 1867).

1840 R. H. Dana Bef. Mast xxv. 81 We had the wind free‥sail after sail the captain piled upon her. 1867 Smyth Sailor's Word-bk., s.v. Freeing, To be free. Said of the wind when it exceeds 67° 30ʹ from right-ahead. 1880 Daily Tel. 7 Sept., She is on the wrong tack, but the last puff was free, and helped her.


14. a. Of material things: Not restrained in movement, not fixed or fastened. to get free: to get loose (from something that restrains or encumbers), to extricate.

1590 Spenser F.Q. i. i. 19 And, knitting all his force, got one hand free. 1667 Milton P.L. vii. 464 Now half appeared The tawny lion, pawing to get free His hinder parts. 1861 J. R. Greene Man. Anim. Kingd., Cœlent. 114 The‥free zoöids of the Lucernaridæ. 1862 H. Spencer First Princ. ii. x. §82 (1875) 250 The pennant of a vessel lying becalmed first shows the coming breeze‥by gentle undulations that travel from its fixed to its free end. 1878 E. Prout in Grove Dict. Mus. I. 40 The discovery of the free reed. 1884 F. J. Britten Watch & Clockm., Free Spring, a balance spring uncontrolled by curb pins. 1890 Boldrewood Col. Reformer (1891) 149 The yacht‥with courses free.


b. Physics and Chem. [after G. frei in the same sense (P. Drude in Zeitschr. f. phys. Chem. (1894) XV. 79, Ann. d. Physik (1900) I. 572).] Of an electron: not bound (to an atom, molecule, etc.), and therefore able to move unrestrictedly under the influence of electric and magnetic fields. (Occas. used of other particles, but the sense becomes indistinguishable from sense 16.)

1906 E. E. Fournier d'Albe Electron Theory x. 193 They are propagated through space with the velocity of light, and if any matter containing free electrons or positive atoms intervenes, their rate of propagation is lessened. 1907 N. R. Campbell Mod. Electr. Theory iii. 70 These ‘bound’ electrons, as they may be called in distinction to the ‘free’ electrons which are subject to no restraining force, take no part in electrostatic actions. 1956 N. F. Ramsey Molec. Beams viii. 203 (heading) Nuclear and molecular interactions in free molecules. 1958 Listener 25 Dec. 1071/1 The number of free electrons in the ionosphere. 1959 Chambers's Encycl. V. 127/2 The electron theory of metals‥ascribes their conductivity to the presence of free electrons. 1965 Phillips & Williams Inorg. Chem. I. vi. 196 Such a situation corresponds to the so-called ‘free-electron theory’.


15. Disengaged from contact or connexion with some other body or surface; relieved from the pressure of an adjacent or superincumbent body. In Bot., not adnate to other organs. free-central: see quot. 1845.

1715 Leoni Palladio's Archit. (1742) II. 10 Making over the Architraves‥Arches that will bear the weight, and leave the Architraves free. 1830 R. Knox Beclard's Anat. 374 At the free surface of the mucous membrane. 1845 Lindley Sch. Bot. i. (1858) 16 If it [the placenta] grows in the middle of the ovary, without adhering to its sides‥it is called free central. 1861 Miss Pratt Flower. Pl. I. 8 The anthers remaining separate, and being termed free. 1870 Hooker Stud. Flora 105 Carpels 1 or more, free or connate.


16. Chem., etc. Uncombined. free radical: see free a. D. 2.

1800 tr. Lagrange's Chem. I. 244 The nitric acid remains free in the liquor. 1851 Carpenter Man. Phys. (ed. 2) 51 By the decomposition of the carbonic acid, oxygen is set free. 1862 Ansted Channel Isl. iv. xx. (ed. 2) 464 A silicate of alumina, with some free silica, and a trace of iron. c1865 J. Wylde in Circ. Sc. I. 148/2 A few grains of kaolin‥may be added to neutralise an excess of free acid. 1929 Chem. Abstr. XXIII. 5159 It is concluded‥that the reactive substance in all these expts. is free methyl. 1937 Discovery July 199/2 With hydrogen atoms attached to all the free bonds. 1952 Science News XXVI. 57 A covalent bond may‥break by homolytic fission, each of the electrons separating with one of the atoms, giving two free atoms, e.g.: HCl→H + Cl, or—if the atoms‥have other atoms bound to them—free radicals. 1953 R. W. Gurney Ionic Processes in Solution iv. 64 There will be a dissociative equilibrium in the solution between the free ions and the neutral ion pairs. 1965 Phillips & Williams Inorg. Chem. I. x. 347 Reactions which involved free atoms. 1970 D. F. Shaw Introd. Electronics (ed. 2) ix. 181 We thus have a diatomic system with two valence electrons whose energy levels are slightly different from those in the free atomic state.


17. Of power or energy: Disengaged, available for ‘work’.

1825 J. Nicholson Operat. Mechanic 662 The whole power of the engine would be expended in impelling itself and the ship‥and no free power would remain for freight. 1837 Brewster Magnet. 363 The action of the free fluid is in equilibrio with the external force. 1838 Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc. I. 6 Free electricity is not under any circumstances conducted silently to the earth.


18. a. Of a material: Yielding easily to operation, easily worked, loose and soft in structure. Also free-working: see D. 1. a below. See also freestone, whence this sense prob. arises.

1573 in Willis & Clark Cambridge (1886) I. 174 Item for Ramsey stone free and ragge. 1676 Wood Life (Oxf. Hist. Soc.) II. 353 Many flat stones, but being free and soft, their inscriptions are woren out. 1765 A. Dickson Treat. Agric. (ed. 2) 59 Even that kind of land that is most free and open in its nature, is found to be rendered more fertile by [fallowing]. 1793 Smeaton Edystone L. §106 This stone was capable of being thus wrought, and was so free to the tool. 1807 Vancouver Agric. Devon (1813) 11 It is generally called free, or Dunstone land.


b. Of wood: Without knots. (So free-stuff: see D. 2.)

1678 [see froughy 2]. 1770 T. S. Kuckahn in Phil. Trans. LX. 315 Out of any soft free wood, cut an artificial one.


III. Characterized by spontaneity, readiness or profuseness in action.


19. Of a person, his will, etc.: Acting of one's own will or choice, and not under compulsion or constraint; determining one's own action or choice, not motived from without. (See also free will.)

c888 K. Ælfred Boeth. xli. §2 Forþæm he esceop twa esceadwisan esceafta frio [MS. Cott. freo], englas & men. c1400 Rom. Rose 7441 He knew nat that she was constreyned‥But wende she come of wille al fre. 1601 ? Marston Pasquil & Kath. i. 180 Nay, be free, my daughters, in election. 1606 Shakes. Tr. & Cr. ii. ii. 170 To make vp a free determination 'Twixt right and wrong. 1662 Stillingfl. Orig. Sacr. iii. iii. §5 Considering man as a free agent. 1732 Berkeley Alciphr. vii. §22 A man is said to be free, so far forth as he can do what he will. 1849 Macaulay Hist. Eng. I. 561 From the day when he quitted Friesland‥he had never been a free agent. 1869 Freeman Norm. Conq. (1876) III. xi. 6 The choice of the electors would be perfectly free.


20. a. Ready in doing or granting anything; acting willingly or spontaneously; (of an act) done of one's own accord; (of an offer, assent, etc.) readily given or made, made with good will.

c1386 Chaucer Prol. 852 To kepe his forward by his free assent. 1535 Coverdale 1 Kings x. 13 And Kynge Salomon gaue vnto ye Quene‥all that she desyred and axed, besydes that which he gaue her of a frye hande. 1549 Bk. Com. Prayer, Collect 20th Sund. Trinity, That we maye with free hearts accomplyshe those thynges that thou wouldest have done. 1576 Fleming Panopl. Epist. 121 There is no kinde of thing, which Cæsars highnesse‥wil not graunt and give of his free bountie. 1607 Shakes. Timon i. ii. 188. 1611 Tourneur Ath. Trag. i. i, You neede not urge my spirit by disgrace, 'Tis free enough; my Father hinders it. 1618 Bolton Florus (1636) 13 Tarquinius‥of his own free courage demanding the Kingdome, had it as freely granted. a1626 Bacon New Atl. Wks. 1802 II. 132 His noble free offers left us nothing to ask. 1651 C. Cartwright Cert. Relig. i. 206 God doth justifie us (saith he) of his free~goodnes. 1882 Ogilvie s.v., He made him a free offer of his services.


b. with inf.: Ready to do something; eager, willing, prompt. Obs. exc. in phr. free to confess, where the adj. is now apprehended as in 8c.

1660 Trial Regic. 22, I shall be very free to open my Heart. 1699 W. Dampier Voy. II. v. 94 He was very free to talk with me, and first asked me my business thither. a1716 Bp. O. Blackall Wks. (1723) I. 276 To part with anything in this World‥and to be free to suffer any temporal Loss‥rather than live in a State of strong Temptation to Sin. 1722 Sewel Hist. Quakers (1795) I. iii. 191 But they were not free to consent thereto. 1784 New Spectator xvi. 6/2 For my own part, I will be free to confess, that, in my opinion, [etc.]. 1821 Clare Vill. Minstr. I. 40 Mark‥his generous mind; How free he is to push about his beer. 1824 Byron Juan xvi. lxxiii, He was ‘free to confess’—(whence comes this phrase? Is't English? No—'tis only parliamentary) That [etc.]. 1874 Ruskin Fors Clav. xxxvii. 4, I am free to confess I did not quite know the sort of creature I had to deal with.


c. Of a horse: Ready to go, willing.

1477 Sir J. Paston in P. Lett. No. 802 III. 200 It shall never neede to prykk nor threte a free horse. a1592 Greene Alphonsus iv. Wks. (Rtldg.) 242/1 Horses that be free Do need no spurs. 1673 E. Brown Brief Acc. Trav. 71 They [Servian horses] are very free. 1884 Daily News 23 July 7/2 ‘Free horses’—horses that is‥that have been working in pairs, and have been too conscientious in their work, and have done more than their share.


21. a. Ready in giving, liberal, lavish. Const. of.

a1300 Cursor M. 14397 Sua fre giuer of all-kin gode. c1300 Ibid. 27874 (Cott. Galba) Help þe pouer with hert fre. Ibid. 28741 (Cott. Galba) What nede es þat þe spenser be nithing of þat þe lord es fre. 1611 Bible 2 Chron. xxix. 31 As many as were of a free heart. 1663 Butler Hud. i. i. 496 For Saints themselves will sometimes be Of Gifts that cost them nothing, free. 1699 W. Dampier Voy. II. i. 84 The Tonquinese in general are very free to their Visitants, treating them with the best cheer they are able to procure. 1719 De Foe Crusoe i. iv, I was not very free of it, for my Store was not great. 1740 Garrick Lying Valet ii. Wks. 1798 I. 53 When he's drunk‥he's very free, and will give me any thing. 1871 Freeman Norm. Conq. (1876) IV. xviii. 185 Handsome in person and free of hand.


b. Of a gift: Given out of liberality or generosity (not in return or requital for something else).

c1380 Wyclif Sel. Wks. III. 312 To fynde goode prestis bi fre almes of þe peple. 1548 Udall, etc. Erasm. Par. Matt. i. 21 The messinger of this free felicitie. 1583 Fulke Defence xv. 403 The worde χάρισµα‥signifieth‥‘a free gift’, or a gift that is freely giuen‥wherof the Prouerbe is, what is so free as gift? 1791 Gentl. Mag. LXI. i. 411 Benefices are now, I might almost say never a free gift from a private patron.


22. a. Acting without restriction or limitation; allowing oneself ample measure in doing something.

1578 Timme Caluine on Gen. 86 Being convinced‥that he was too free in sinning. 1632 J. Hayward tr. Biondi's Eromena 147 That either too light, or too free feeding hath occasioned you this dreame. 1727 Pope Th. Var. Subj. Swift's Wks. 1755 II. i. 224 How free the present age is in laying taxes on the next. 1746 Berkeley Lett. Tar-water ii. §9 The free use of strong fermented liquors. 1791 Gentl. Mag. 26/2 Probably no divine made a freer use of the paronomasia than Dan. Featley. 1858 Hawthorne Fr. & It. Jrnls. I. 191 He is‥free and careless in displaying his precious wares. 1884 Manch. Exam. 4 Apr. 4/5 At the close [of the market] the tone is easy, with free sellers.


b. free of or free with: using or employing without reserve or restraint.

1632 Lithgow Trav. iii. 92 He was so free of his stomacke to receive in strong liquor. 1653 Z. Bogan Mirth Chr. Life 80 Grotius, the freest man of his tongue that ever I knew. 1700 S. L. tr. Fryke's Voy. E. Ind. 196 He was not free of his Discourse. 1737 Bracken Farriery Impr. (1757) II. 258 He gives us a Caution not to be too free with such Preparations.


c. Unstinted as to supply, quantity, etc.; coming forth in profusion; administered without stint; abundant, copious. (Used with mixture of sense 8.)

1635 J. Hayward tr. Biondi's Banish'd Virg. 86 His wounded thigh by its free bleeding gave the‥eye occasion to suspect [etc.]. 1707 Hearne Collect. 21 July, After a free glass or two he happen'd to discourse. 1806 Med. Jrnl. XV. 217 A free stimulus given to the absorbent system. 1822–34 Good Study Med. (ed. 4) I. 244 The skin warm, the pulse free and forcible. 1887 Baring-Gould Gaverocks xii, A monthly rose that was a free bloomer.


23. Frank and open in conversation or intercourse, ingenuous, unreserved; also, in bad sense = overfree, forward, ‘familiar’, ready to ‘take liberties’.

1635 Quarles Embl. i. iv. (1718) 18 If thou be free, she's strange; if strange, she's free. 1635 J. Hayward tr. Biondi's Banish'd Virg. 185 Beeing of a free nature‥quite forgot all circumspection. 1671 Narborough Jrnl. in Acc. Sev. Late Voy. i. (1711) 132 These Antipodes began to be somewhat bolder, and more free. 1693–4 Gibson in Lett. Lit. Men (Camden) 217 His Grace is very free and open. 1719 De Foe Crusoe ii. vi, I pressed him to be free and plain with me. 1775 Sheridan St. Patr. Day ii. ii, Not so free, fellow! 1800 E. Hervey Mourtray Fam. II. 171 Daring and free as was this young nobleman, with women whose principles were as free as his own. 1854 Hawthorne Eng. Note-bks. (1883) I. 464 A very able man, with the Western sociability and free-fellowship.


24. to make (or be) free with: to adopt very familiar terms in one's conversation or dealings with (a person); hence gen. and transf. to treat unceremoniously, take liberties with. Also Naut., to approach boldly.

1708 Swift Abolit. Chr. Wks. 1755 II. i. 84 Great wits love to be free with the highest objects; and if they cannot be allowed a God to revile or renounce, they will speak evil of dignities. 1714 Addison Spect. No. 556 ⁋7, I was once like to have run through the Body for making a little too free with my Betters. 1728 N. Salmon in Lett. Lit. Men (Camden) 361 The Itinerary of Antoninus I find all authors making free with, condemning it for blunders, and altering figures. 1783 Hist. Miss Baltimores II. 79 If I can infuse into Carleton's ear, that Sedly and her ladyship make too free, he may‥propose setting me as a watch over his wife's conduct. 1803 Nelson 10 Aug. in Nicolas Disp. VIII. 155 You are‥to approach Toulon with great caution and not make too free with the entrance of the harbour. 1826 Disraeli Viv. Grey vi. i, He may with justice make free with our baggage. 1833 H. Martineau Vanderput & S. i. 7 Rebuked him for being so free with the pastor. 1856 Reade Never too late l, I advise you not to make so free with your servants. 1858 Merc. Marine Mag. V. 226 You may make free with the‥shore to within half a cable's length.


25. a. Of speech: Characterized by liberty in the expression of sentiments or opinions; uttered or expressed without reserve; frank, plain-spoken.

1611 Tourneur Ath. Trag. v. ii. Wks. 1878 I. 148 With the free voice of a departing soule, I here protest this Gentlewoman cleare. 1625 Bacon Ess., Counsel (Arb.) 329 For else Counsellours will but take the Winde of him; And in stead of giuing Free Counsell, sing him a Song of Placebo. 1680 H. More Apocal. Apoc. 107 Their free rebukes out of the word of God being very disquieting. 1712 Steele Spect. No. 493 ⁋1 The Mistress and the Maid shall quarrel, and give each other very free Language. 1794 Nelson 19 Mar. in Nicolas Disp. I. 375 Gave Lord Hood my free opinion that 800 troops, with 400 seamen, would take Bastia. 1849 Macaulay Hist. Eng. II. 66 The conversation at table was free; and the weaknesses of the prince whom the confederates hoped to manage were not spared. 1884 L. J. Jennings in Croker Papers I. viii. 238 Men used rather free expressions to each other‥in the days of the Regency.


b. Not observing due bounds, ‘loose’, licentious.

1852 Thackeray Esmond iii. iii, Where she‥listened to much free talk. 1859 Tennyson Enid 1140 Earl Limours Drank till he jested with all ease, and told Free tales.


IV. Not burdened, not subject or liable, exempt; invested with special rights or privileges.


26. (With const. from or of): a. Released or exempt from, not liable to (e.g. a rule, penalty, payment).

c1000 Ags. Gosp. Matt. xvii. 26 Eornestlice þa barn senden frie. a1300 Cursor M. 3240 O þi trout þan mak i þe fre. 1630 R. Johnson's Kingd. & Commw. 185 He is free from all tax and imposition‥all his life after. 1694 Locke Hum. Und. ii. xxi. §60 (ed. 2), The will, free from the determination of such desires, is left to the pursuit of nearer satisfactions. 1849 Macaulay Hist. Eng. II. 7 That the Roman Catholic, where the interests of his religion were concerned, thought himself free from all the ordinary rules of morality.


b. Exempt from, having immunity from, not subject to (some circumstances or affection regarded as hurtful or undesirable).

c1200 Ormin 16818 Þatt Crist wass‥all þwerrt ut off sinne fre. c1230 Hali Meid. 5 Freo ouer alle fram alle worldliche weanen. 1581 Sidney Apol. Poetrie (Arb.) 55 Poetrie‥is the freest from thys obiection. 1594 Hooker Eccl. Pol. iv. ix. §2 The freer our minds are from all distempered affections. 1611 Shakes. Wint. T. i. ii. 264 These‥Are such allow'd Infirmities, that honestie Is neuer free of. 1698 Fryer Acc. E. India & P. 35 When they feel themselves freest from Sickness. 1798 Ferriar Illustr. Sterne vi. 179 Our own writers are not free from this error. 1822 Lamb Elia Ser. ii. Confess. Drunkard, I am never free from those uneasy sensations. 1885 Manch. Exam. 21 May 5/3 These Highlanders are notoriously free from pulmonary consumption. 1895 Sir N. Lindley in Law Times Rep. LXXIII. 645/2 The point‥appears to me‥free from any real difficulty.


27. a. Exempt from, or not subject to, some particular jurisdiction or lordship. b. Possessed of certain exclusive rights or privileges. Used to designate franchises or liberties, as free chapel (see chapel n. 3c); free chase = frank chase; free fishery (see fishery 4); free marriage = frank marriage; free warren (see warren). free miner (local): see quot. 1883.

1297 R. Glouc. (1724) 474 Other holi churche was issent, that mid riȝte was so fre. 1375 Barbour Bruce i. 164 Or as myn eldris forouch me Held it in freyast reawte. c1483 Caxton Bk. Trav. 21b, A cure of fre chapell. 1535 Coverdale Josh. xx. 2 Giue amonge you fre cities‥yt they may be fre amonge you from the avenger of bloude. 1599 Sandys Europæ Spec. (1632) 170 The Free-Cityes‥have all save some very few, enfreed themselves from the Pope. 1611 Speed Hist. Gt. Brit. ix. iii. §11 Setting to sale the free-rights of the Church. 1641 Termes de la Ley 168 Free marriage. 1669 Sc. Acts Chas. II 4 Tenements lands and fishings holden in frie burgage. 1697 W. Dampier Voy. I. xi. 317 He was a free Merchant‥by that name the Dutch and English in the East Indies, distinguish those Merchants who are not Servants to the Company. 1700 Tyrrell Hist. Eng. II. 1107 Their feoffees and Free-Tenants. 1703 Lond. Gaz. No. 3950/4 The several Regalties, Free-Fisheries, etc. 1723 Ibid. No. 6194/7 Elizabeth Smith‥Free-Dealer. 1726 C. Kirkham (title), Two Letters‥the First Shewing‥the Rights and Privileges of Pourallees or Free-Hey. 1785 J. Phillips Treat. Inland Navig. p. xii, The defection of the Colonies, now the Free and United States. 1810 Sporting Mag. XXXVI. 26 The rights of free warren and free chace. 1843 James Forest Days v, No free-forester shall ever be arrested by our people, or on our land. 1861 M. Pattison Ess. (1889) I. 44 The free towns of Lübeck, Bremen, and Hamburg. 1883 Gresley Gloss. Coal Mining, Free Miner‥a man born within the hundred of St. Briavels‥who has worked a year and a day in a mine. 1884 Law Times 31 May 78/2 A free miner made an application to the gaveller for a grant to him of one of the two gales.


28. a. Of real property: Held without obligation of rent or service, freehold.

c1290 S. Eng. Leg. I. 52/186 An hondret hidene of guod lond with hire he ȝaf þer þat hous, al-so freo in eche point ase he him-sulf it heold er. c1440 York Myst. xxxii. 348 Armig. A place here beside lorde wolde I wedde-sette. Pilat. What title has þou þer-to? is it þyne awne free? Armig. Lorde, fre be my fredome me fallis it. 1465 Paston Lett. No. 522 II. 224 Other x acres of fre londe. a1533 Ld. Berners Huon lxxxi. 249 Your landes oughte to be rendred to you franke and fre. 1587 in Collect. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.) I. 180 Ladyes Crofte Mr. Losse free. 1601 Holland Pliny II. 492 She had conferred frankely vpon the people of Rome, a piece of medow ground‥which was her owne Free-land. 1701 Lond. Gaz. No. 3712/4 About 60 Acres of Meadow and Pasture Land, all Free Land.


b. Of property: At one's own disposal. Obs.

1808 Forsyth Beauties Scotl. (1808) V. 144 A prohibition existed‥against marriage, unless where the young couple could show they possessed £40 Scots of free gear.


29. a. Invested with the rights or immunities of, admitted to the privileges of (a chartered company, corporation, city, or the like). Sometimes used simply, without of.

1496 Act 12 Hen. VII, c. 6 Merchants and Adventurers dwelling and being free within the City of London. 1553 in W. H. Turner Select. Rec. Oxford 215 He was made fre in myne yere‥Am not I also a freeman? 1587 Fleming Contn. Holinshed III. 1311/1 Citizen of London, and free of the clothworkers. 1610 B. Jonson Alch. i. iii, Free of the Grocers? 1651 Rec. Carpenters' Co. 4 Dec. in Jupp Hist. Acc. Comp. Carpenters (1887) 160 Whereas the ffree Sawiers have indited a fforreine sawier, etc. 1661 Pepys Diary 3 May, It was in his thoughts to have got me made free of the towne. 1688 Lond. Gaz. No. 2317/1 The Company of Free Fishermen of Your River of Thames. 1690 Locke Govt. ii. vi. §59 Is a Man under the Law of England? What made him Free of that Law? 1703 Lond. Gaz. No. 3944/4 He is a Free-Burgess of Colchester. 1712 Swift Jrnl. to Stella 18 Sept., It is necessary they should be made free here before they can be employed. 1719 De Foe Crusoe ii. xiii, My horse fell, and made me free of the country, as they call it. 1766 Entick London IV. 239 The shop-keepers are obliged to be free of the city. 1859 C. Barker Assoc. Princ. ii. 54 Persons not free of the craft.


b. Hence: Allowed the use or enjoyment of (a place, etc.).

1687 Dryden Hind & P. iii. 1245 He therefore makes all birds of every sect Free of his farm. 1713 Steele Guardian No. 53 ⁋2 Powel of the Bath is reconciled to me, and has made me free of his show. 1818 Keats Endymion iii. Poet. Wks. (1886) 139 And I was free of haunts umbrageous. 1840 Dickens Barn. Rudge x, Barnaby's as free of the house as any cat or dog about it.


30. Said of workmen who are not members of a trade-union: also free labour = the labour of non-unionists.

1890 Times 17 Sept. 4/3 A free labour registration for the purpose of securing the services of men‥for work as free men without reference to any other combination. 1891 Spectator 17 Jan., The refusal of Union men to work with free-labourers.


31. Exempt from restrictions in regard to trade; allowed to trade in any market or with any commodities; open to all traders; also, not subject to tax, toll, or duty. Freq. as free market, free port, both also (hyphened) in attrib. use.

1631 Weever Anc. Fun. Mon. 38 Their Free-martes, or Markets. 1711 Shaftesbury Charac. (1737) I. 64 Nothing is so advantageous to it [trade] as a free-port. 1714 Fr. Bk. of Rates 2 The Privileges of Cities, Towns, Persons, Free-fairs, and other Exemptions. 1719 De Foe Crusoe ii. xiii, Having gotten a good acquaintance at Manilla, he got his ship made a free ship. 1753 Scots Mag. Mar. 110/2 Free ships render the merchandize on board free. 1842 J. C. Calhoun Wks. (1874) IV. 105 The act‥increased the list of free articles many-fold. 1862 Latham Channel Isl. iii. xvii. (ed. 2) 400 It became a free port, and throve through its freedom. 1905 Westm. Gaz. 8 Sept. 4/1 The great advantage a Free-Port system has over ‘Protection’. 1907 Ibid. 5 Apr. 3/2 What Preferentialists ask from the masses in England is a price above the free-market price. 1947 V. A. Demant What is happening to Us? i. 8 The approach to a completely free-market economy began to wreck what any genuine conservative would want to conserve. 1967 Boston Sunday Herald 26 Mar. vi. 7/5 (Advt.), Buy silver, china, watches, etc., in our free-port shops right in the hotel.


32. a. (In full free of cost, charge, or the like). Given or provided without payment, costless, gratuitous. Of persons: (Admitted, etc.) without payment.

1585 T. Washington tr. Nicholay's Voy. iii. xviii. 104 To have free shot and cheare. 1697 Dryden Virg. Georg. iv. 357 Lazy Drones, without their Share of Pain, In Winter Quarters free, devour the Gain. 1719 De Foe Crusoe i. xvii, You will carry me‥to England, passage-free. 1830 Blackw. Mag. XXVIII. 400 Paid‥partly in victuals; and partly in free tickets. 1836 Dickens Sk. Boz vi. (1850) 22/1 Books were bought, all the free-seat people provided therewith. 1852 Macaulay Jrnl. 15 Aug, I got a place among the free seats. 1856 Hawthorne Eng. Note-bks. (1883) II. 234 We went to the Haymarket Theatre, where Douglas Jerrold is on the free list. 1856 Froude Hist. Eng. (1858) I. i. 43 To every man‥who chose to ask for it, there was free fare and free lodging. 1894 Times (weekly ed.) 9 Feb. 113/2 An‥applicant for a free pass over this company's lines of railway.


b. free school: ‘a school in which learning is given without pay’ (J.).
It has been denied that this was the meaning of ‘free (grammar) school’, L. libera schola grammaticalis, as the official designation of many schools founded under Edw. VI. The denial rests on the two assertions (both disputable): that the Eng. phrase is a translation of the Latin, not the reverse; and that liber could not mean ‘gratuitous’ in mediæval any more than in classical Latin. Many different interpretations of the adj. have been proposed: (1) exempt from ecclesiastical control; (2) exempted by license from the operation of the statute of mortmain, and hence entitled to hold property (to a limited amount); (3) giving a liberal education; (4) ‘privileged’ or ‘authorized’. We have failed, however, to find any example in which the interpretation ‘gratuitous’ is inadmissible (though the schools called ‘free’ were often gratuitous only to a select number or class of scholars); and there is abundant proof that this interpretation was already current before the time of Edw. VI.

[1488 Will of Sir Edm. Shaw (Som. Ho.), I woll that the said connyng Preeste kepe a Grammer scole contynually in the said Town of Stopforde [Stockport]‥and that he frely without any‥ salary asking‥except only my salary‥shall teach, etc.] 1494 Fabyan Chron. vi. clxxi. 165 He [King Alfred] ordeyned the firste grammer scole at Oxenforde, and other free scoles. 1500 Deed Found. Lancaster Grammar Sch. in National Observer (1896) 3 Oct. 578 [The master shall be] a profound grammarian, keping a Fre Scole, teching‥the childer unto the utmost profitt, nothing taking therefor. 1503 Will of Sir John Percyvale (Macclesfield 1877) 5, I woll that the said preest shall alway kepe‥in the said Town of Maxfeld a Fre Grammar Scole. c1512 Ordinance Agnes Mellers (MS. c. 1590) in Nottingham Rec. III. 453 [She founds at Nottingham] a Free Schole of one maister and Usher‥[They are forbidden to] take any other gift‥whereby the scollers or their friends should be charged but at the pleasure of the friends of the scholars, save the wages to be paid by the said Guardians. [1518 Stat. St Paul's Sch. in Lupton Life Colet 271 John Colet‥in‥1512 bylded a Scole in the Estende of Paules church for 153 to be taught fre in the same.] 1548 Chantry Certif. No. 22 in A. F. Leach Eng. Schools at Reform. (1897) 82 The chauntry of Blakebroke‥Founded‥by license obtained of Kinge Henry the Sixt to manteigne a discrete priest‥to kepe a gramer scoole half free, that ys to seye, taking of scolers lerning gramer 8d. the quarter, and of others lerning to rede 4d. the quarter. 1583 Stubbes Anat. Abus. ii. (1882) 19 Be there not‥free schooles, where youth may bee brought vp in learning Gratis without any charges to their parents? 1599 Will of P. Blundell (founding Tiverton Grammar School) in Rept. Comm. Char. 1820 III. App. 136 My meaning is yt shall be for ever a Free Schole and not a Schole of exaction. 1673 Essex Papers (Camden) I. 116 There is also a free schoole setled att Carickfergus, which is maintained by the Bishop, Clergy, &c. 1699 Phil. Trans. XXI. 441 A State-House, and a Free-School. 1727 Stat. Bury Gramm. School (Bury 1863), I have ordered my Free Schole of Bury to be free to all boys born in the parish‥yet my intent is‥not to debar [the masters] from that common priviledg in all Free Scholes of receiving presents, benevolences, gratuities from the scholars. 1759 Goldsm. Bee No. 6 §1 ⁋4 The manner in which our youth of London are at present educated is, some in free schools in the city, but the far greater number in boarding schools about town. 1837 H. Martineau Soc. Amer. III. 164 One needs but go from a charity-school in an English county to a free-school in Massachusetts, to see [etc.]. 1838 Dickens O. Twist vii, It's a poor boy from the free-school. 1842 —— Amer. Notes (1850) 113/1 Its free-schools, of which it has so many that no person's child among its population can, by possibility, want the means of education.
transf. 1589 R. Harvey Pl. Perc. 10 A free schoole of skolds shalbe set vp for the nonce.


B. n. Obs.


1. The adj. used absol.

c1300 Beket 221 The crie was sone wide couth among thue and freo. c1320 Sir Tristr. 3153 Þo folwed bond and fre. c1350 Will. Palerne 5514 Feiþful‥to fre & to þewe.


2. A person of noble birth or breeding; a knight or lady.
[In OS. poetry frî neut. (prob. orig. adj. with ellipsis of wîf) is used in the sense of ‘lady’, or ME. burd; the same use occurs once in OE. in a passage known to be translated from OS. (quot. a1000 below).]

a1000 Cædmon's Gen. 457 (Gr.) Freo færoste. c1320 Sir Tristr. 3046 Ysonde men calleþ þat fre, Wiþ þe white hand. 13‥ E.E. Allit. P. B. 929 ‘Þenne fare forth’, quoth þat fre [an angel]. c1350 Will. Palerne 505 Whan þe fre was in þe forest founde in his denne. c1380 Sir Ferumb. 3441 Þanne saide Roland to þat fry: ‘Damesele, þow spekest ful cortesly.’ c1460 Towneley Myst. (Surtees) 268 Well I wote that it was he My lord Jesu; he that betrayde that fre Sore may he rew. a1549 Murning Maidin 14 in Laneham's Let. (1871) Pref. 150, I followit on that fre, That semelie wes to se.


C. adv. a. In a free manner, freely: used in the different senses of the adj. In educated use now only techn. or arch., and chiefly in contexts where it admits of being interpreted as adj.

1559 Mirr. Mag., Worcester ii, That truth vnshent should speake in all thinges fre. 1613 Shakes. Hen. VIII, ii. i. 82, I as free forgiue you As I would be forgiuen. 1681 Dryden Abs. & Achit. 202 Achitophel‥Disdain'd the golden Fruit to gather free. 1703 Moxon Mech. Exerc. 321 So as the Plumb-line play free in the Groove. 1709 Strype Ann. Ref. I. ii. 61 This subsidy was extreamly free and readily granted. 1776 G. Semple Building in Water 105 The Middle of the Current of the River, runs the freest. 1850 Mrs. Browning Rom. Page xxxiv, The knight smiled free at the fantasy. 1885 Law Times LXXX. 101/1 An adjoining pulley which ran free.


b. Without cost or payment. Often with gratis added, esp. in colloq. phr. free, gratis, (and) for nothing. Phr. for free: see for prep. 19g. scot free: see scot.

1568 V. Skinner tr. Montanus' Inquisit. 35b, Escape scotte free. 1682 in Picton L'pool Munic. Rec. (1883) I. 252 Hee was admitted free gratis. 1774 Ibid. (1886) II. 195 Admitted to the freedom free gratis. 1841 Dickens Let. 30 June (1969) II. 317, I have declined to be brought in, free gratis for nothing and qualified to boot, for a Scotch county that's going a-begging. 1850 Kingsley A. Locke I. ii. 32 Spittoons, as you see, perwided free gracious [sic] for nothing. 1893 E. F. Benson Dodo II. xi. 222 No charge for mixed metaphors. Supplied free, gratis, and for nothing. a1898 Mod. The gallery will be open free on Saturdays. 1941 H. G. Wells You can't be too Careful iii. viii. 146, I was to be sent to France, free gratis and for nothing for six months. 1965 S. Jepson Third Possibility xii. 89 The man you're going to meet can give you more of it free, gratis and for nothing than you can use in a life-time.


c. Naut. (to sail, go, etc.) free: i.e. with bowlines slackened and sheets eased; farther from the wind than when close-hauled.

1812 Examiner 12 Oct. 649/2 Both keeping up a heavy fire and steering free. 1839 Marryat Phant. Ship xii, We were going about four knots and a half free. 1883 Harper's Mag. Aug. 447/2 A boat‥with ability to fetch to windward and to run free.


D. Comb.


1. a. with ppl. adjs. where free is either adverbial or enters into parasynthetic combinations, as †free-bestowed, free-bred, free-floating, free-flowering, free-flowing, free-flying (so free-fly v., nonce-use), free-footed, †free-franchised, free-garmented, free-growing, †free-miened, free-minded, (free-mindedness), free-mouthed, free-moving, free-ranging, free-running, free-spirited, free-swimming, free-tongued, free-working.

1583 Golding Calvin on Deut. xiii. 75 Through his owne *freebestowed goodenesse. 1599 Marston Sco. Villanie ii. vi. 201 Oh indignity To my respectless *free-bred poesie. 1921 Jrnl. Ecol. IX. 241 A suggestion as to factors influencing the distribution of *free-floating vegetation. 1926 W. McDougall Outl. Abnormal Psychol. xviii. 316 If this accident had not taken place, the free-floating fear would have broken out in a phobia for some other object. 1936 Discovery Jan. 3/1 Ultra-microscopic particles of living protoplasm were the germs from which visible free-floating organisms were derived. 1965 Times Lit. Suppl. 25 Nov. 1058/3 The more free-floating culture of bohemia. 1824 Greenhouse Compan. 68 *Free-flowering plants of different degrees of beauty. 1952 A. G. L. Hellyer Sanders' Encycl. Gardening (ed. 22) 223 A large, rounded, free-flowering bush is formed. 1934 Webster, *Free-flowing. 1960 Farmer & Stockbreeder 16 Feb. 109 In the Nicholas Liver Fluke Drench, hexachloroethane particles are suspended in a free-flowing liquid and this ensures accurate dosing. 1922 Joyce Ulysses 256 They threw young heads back‥to let *freefly their laughter. 1915 E. R. Lankester Divers. Nat. 222 Fully-formed *free-flying state. 1961 Bannerman Birds Brit. Isles X. 290 Only three chicks were reared to the free-flying stage. 1602 Shakes. Ham. iii. iii. 26 For we will Fetters put vpon this feare, Which now goes too *free-footed. 1681 Cotton Wond. Peak (ed. 4) 28 In these *free franchis'd, subterranean caves. 1848 Hare Guesses Ser. ii. (1859) 341 The sayings of the *free-garmented folks in Julius Cesar could not have come from the close-buttoned generation in Othello. 1824 Loudon Encycl. Gard. (ed. 2) 396 The species of stocks for fruit-trees are divided into what are called *free-growing and dwarfing stocks. 1902 Daily Chron. 1 Apr. 2/1 The free-growing heralds of spring [sc. daffodils]. 1952 A. G. L. Hellyer Sanders' Encycl. Gardening (ed. 22), L[ycopodium] Billardieri, free-growing creeper, New Zealand. 1647 Stapylton Juvenal 215 They'r *free-mein'd, gallants, and fine gentlemen. 1597 Bacon Ess., Regiment of Health (Arb.) 58 To be *free minded and chearefully disposed at howers of meate and of sleepe and of exercise. 1834 T. Moore Mem. (1856) VII. 41 As if they were more high and free-minded from having slaves to trample upon. 1579 J. Knewstub Confutation 68b, Out of the *free mindednes of their heat [? heart]. 1647 H. More Song of Soul ii. iii. iii. lviii, Mirth, and Free-mindednesse, Simplicitie. 1862 Merivale Rom. Emp. (1865) VII. lxii. 403 A vain pretence of *free-mouthed patriotism. 1835–6 Todd Cycl. Anat. I. 688/1 The *free-moving young have very well developed eyes. 1942 C. R. Carpenter in Jrnl. Compar. Psychol. XXXIII. 113 (title) Sexual behavior of *free ranging rhesus monkeys. 1948 V. Massey On being Canadian iii. 43 Free-ranging experimentation in ideas. 1958 Observer 19 Oct. 17/4 They [sc. geese] demand an open-air, free-ranging life. 1963 Times 7 Feb. 8/4 The Government‥are anxious that the Commons should work for a free-ranging debate. 1940 Chambers's Techn. Dict. 353/2 *Free-running speed, the speed which a vehicle or train will attain when propelled by a constant tractive effort. 1960 Farmer & Stockbreeder 15 Mar. 48/1 (Advt.), Free-running baler and binder twine. 1962 Simpson & Richards Junction Transistors xvi. 404 The astable circuit is an oscillator whose output is a flat-topped wave.‥ It is often called a free-running multivibrator or‥simply a multivibrator. 1677 Gale Crt. Gentiles iv. 429 Princes‥ought to be *freespirited, generose, liberal. 1735 Berkeley Def. Free-thinking in Math. §8 Many free-spirited inquiries after truth. 1894 Pop. Sci. Monthly June 272 A pelagic or *free-swimming Ascidian. 1599 Massinger, etc. Old Law iv. ii, A *free-tongued woman, And very excellent at telling secrets. 1877 Dowden Shaks. Prim. vi. 141 The free-tongued girls of Cleopatra. a1619 M. Fotherby Atheom. i. xiii. §1 (1622) 135 Both wittingly, and willingly, by a *free~working will. 1793 Smeaton Edystone L. §98 Portland, or some other free working stone. 1892 J. C. Blomfield Hist. Heyford 3 Light or free-working land may be ploughed more easily than that which is stiff and heavy.


b. in derivative combinations based upon some recognized phrase in which the adjective is employed, as free-agency, free-citizenship, free-pressism, etc. (after free agent, free citizen, free press, etc.).

1754 Fielding Voy. Lisbon (1755) 129, I would rob him of nothing but that *free-agency which is the cause of all the corruption‥of human nature. 1786 Burke W. Hastings Wks. 1842 II. 205 The restoration of the Mogul‥to his free-agency in the conduct of his affairs. 1860 Pusey Min. Proph. 324 He so wills to be freely loved‥that He does not force our free-agency. 1849 Grote Greece ii. lxix. (1862) VI. 216 To Xerxes, the conception of *free-citizenship‥was‥incomprehensible. 1856 Tait's Mag. XXIII. 698 Our *free pressism is one of our peculiarities.


c. in secondary combination with a verbal or agent noun (where free seems partly adverbial, qualifying the action understood), as free-acting, free-handler, free-handling, free-seeker, free-speaker, free-speaking, free-writer, free-writing. So free-liver, -thinker, etc.

1738–41 Warburton Div. Legat. App. 41 'Tis the punishment of *free-acting to fear where no fear is. 1862 F. Hall Hindu Philos. Syst. 157 The sanctimonious vocabulary of *free-handlers and secularists. 1875 E. White Life in Christ ii. xii. (1878) 144 If you will but nullify by criticism and *free-handling the truth on Atonement. 1693 Luttrell Brief Rel. (1857) III. 56 A new sect is started up here called the *Freeseekers. 1716 Addison Drummer i. 10 I'm a Free-thinker, Child. Ab. I am sure you are a *Free-speaker! 1660 Trial Regic. 49 Let there be *free-speaking by the Prisoner and Councel. 1711 Shaftesbury Charac. (1737) I. 65 In the case of many zealots, who have taken upon 'em to answer our modern *free-writers. 1732 Berkeley Alciphr. ii. §6 In this most wise and happy age of Free-thinking, Free-speaking, *Free-writing, and Free-acting.


2. In spec. phrases, etc.: free activity, used attrib. of a type of school or method of teaching in which children learn through their own efforts and experiments and not through instruction by a teacher; also, usu. in pl. (not attrib.), such activities; †free alms = frank almoign (see almoign); free association Psychol., in an experiment based on the association of ideas, an association freely made by the person undergoing the test without suggestion or control on the part of the experimenter; hence free-associational, free-associative adjs.; free-associate v. intr.; free-chant Mus. (see quot.); free cinema (see quots. 1956); so free film; free city, (a) in the Middle Ages, a sovereign city-state in Germany; (b) a semi-autonomous city under the authority of an international body; free companion (see quot. and cf. free lance); so free company; free-cutting a. Metallurgy, applied to a metal with good machining properties, esp. when these are due to small quantities of some additional substance; free diver, a skin-diver; so free-diving vbl. n., skin-diving; free drop, a parachute descent made with a free parachute; free enterprise, the freedom of private business from state control; hence free enterpriser, an advocate or follower of such a system; free expression, the uninhibited expression of one's thoughts, feelings, creative capacities, etc.; free fall, the movement, of a body under no forces other than gravity, there being neither thrust nor (appreciable) drag acting on it; as (a) the flight of a ballistic missile after the driving power is cut off; (b) in a parachute descent, the part of the fall before the parachute opens (drag on the parachutist being neglected); (c) the flight of a spacecraft in space when there is no thrust from the engines, and any occupants of it experience weightlessness; phr. in free fall, moving or flying in these conditions; hence free-fall v.; free film, see free cinema; †free fish (see quot.); free flight, spec. (a) the flight of an unmoored balloon, or of a glider released from its towing-rope; (b) flight of an aircraft, missile, etc., in free fall; (c) used attrib. to designate a wind tunnel in which the model is not mounted but supported by aerodynamic forces like an aircraft in flight; free food, food imported free of tax or duty; also attrib.; free-fooder, a politician who opposes taxes on food; free-form attrib., spec. of an irregular shape or structure; also ellipt.; free gift, spec. an object given away without charge to promote sales (cf. sense 21b); free gold, gold occurring naturally in a pure state or uncombined with other substances; free grace, the unmerited favour of God (whence †free gracian); †free holly (see quot.); free (public) house (seequot. 1858); free jump Parachuting, = free drop; free kick (see kick n.1 1); free library: see library1 1b; free list, a list of persons from whom, or things on which, payment is not required (see also quot. 1870); so free list v. trans.; free-loader slang (orig. U.S.), one who eats or drinks without expense to himself, a sponger; so free-loading vbl. n. and ppl. a., and (as a back-formation) free-load v. intr.; free love, the doctrine of the right of free choice in sexual relations without the restraint of marriage or other legal obligation; whence free-lover, free-loving, free-lovism, etc.; free lunch, a lunch given gratis, esp. by bar-keepers to attract customers; so free-luncher; free-milling a. Mining (of ores) easily reducible; free paper U.S., (pl.) documents proclaiming the status of a manumitted slave; free parachute, one released by the parachutist and not by a static line attached to the aircraft; free part Mus. (see quot.); free pass, authority to travel on a railway, etc., or to enter a place of entertainment without payment; free path Physics, (a) the distance which a molecule or other particle traverses without encountering another particle and without colliding with the walls of the containing vessel; (b) the distance a sound wave travels between successive reflections from the walls of an enclosure; usu. as mean free path (in both senses); free period (see quot. 1961); free place, a place in a secondary school awarded free to a scholar from an elementary school; also attrib.; hence free-placer, one who holds a free place; free radical Chem., an uncharged atom or group of atoms having one or more unpaired electrons, esp. when these normally form part of a bond; free range, (a) U.S., free pasturage; (b) used esp. attrib. of chickens given freedom to range for food (opp. battery 13 c); so free-range egg, etc.; free return Astronaut., the positioning of a spacecraft on to the correct return flight path by planetary gravitation; free school, (a) (see sense 32b); (b) an independently-run school based on the principle that children should be allowed to develop without the restrictions imposed by examinations, authority, and other features of traditional education; free silver U.S., the free coinage of silver bullion at government mints; also, belief in or advocacy of such a policy; free skating, a competitive programme of variable skating figures performed to music; free speech (cf. sense 25); free-standing a., standing alone; not supported by a structural framework; Free Stater, a native or inhabitant of a free state as the Orange Free State or Irish Free State; one supporting such a state; free stock (see quot. 1763); plants grown from seed to be used as rootstocks in grafting; free-stuff Building (see quot.); free-style a., = free a. 9; applied spec. to a swimming race in which the style of stroke used is left to the competitor's choice; also absol.; †free suitor, one of the tenants entitled to attend a manorial court; free union [F. union libre], cohabitation of a couple without marriage; free vector Math., a vector of which only the magnitude and direction are specified, not the position or line of action; free verse = vers libre; so free-verser; free vote, a Parliamentary vote not made subject to party discipline; †free ward, ? = L. libera custodia, detention not involving close or ignominious restraint (hence free-warder); †free-work, ?decorative mason-work.

1941 N. Catty Learning & Teaching in Junior School ii. 34 Other periods are devoted primarily to children's individual work and *free activities. 1942 Brit. Jrnl. Psychol. Oct. 140 Four ‘experimental’ (‘free activity’) schools were paired with ‘control’ schools‥in which the teaching was of the formal type. 1965 W. Lamb Posture & Gesture viii. 106 ‘Free activity’ methods in the teaching of physical education give scope for much emotional and chaotic work. 1503–4 Act 19 Hen. VII, c. 29 Preamb., To hold‥of your Highnesse and of your heyres in *free & perpetuall Almes. 1628 Coke On Litt. 97a, Free almes, (which was free from any limitation of certaintie). 1899 W. James Talks to Teachers 219 Stated technically, the law is this: that strong feeling about one's self tends to arrest the *free association of one's objective ideas and motor processes. 1905 E. B. Titchener Exper. Psychol. II. i. 192 We show him a word; he is to react when the word has suggested something, no matter what. The word sea may arouse the idea of land or water or ships or some particular sea or some particular incident at sea,—anything it likes. Associations of this sort are termed, technically, free associations. 1964 Gould & Kolb Dict. Social Sci. 557/1 Freud‥induced his patients to disclose their thoughts without censorship, allowing ideas to enter their minds in undirected free association. 1941 Brit. Jrnl. Psychol. July 41 The responses given‥were very full and largely *free-associational in content. 1960 Guardian 9 Sept. 7/3 A solid chunk of free-associational near-verse. 1958 Times Lit. Suppl. 24 Jan. 44/1 A time when literary fantasy of a *free-associative, surrealistic kind was by no means the commonplace that it is today. 1970 New Yorker 29 Aug. 24/1 He‥diverted the rest of the hour into a lengthy free-associative screen about certain rhapsodic sexual events. 1941 Mind L. 80 If you start *free-associating from any item in consciousness you will be bound to reach a sexual item sooner or later. 1954 Amer. Jrnl. Psychol. LXVII. 244, I will read four words slowly and‥you are to free-associate to the last word only. 1971 Daily Tel. (Colour Suppl.) 2 Apr. 7/1 He is not very interested in probing the subconscious of his patients, or allowing them to free-associate about childhood miseries. 1876 Stainer & Barrett Dict. Mus. Terms, *Free chant is a form of recitative music for the Psalms and Canticles, in which a phrase, consisting of two chords only, is applied to each hemistich of the words. 1956 Living Cinema I. 9 The phrase ‘*Free Cinema’ coined by the National Film Theatre is a happy thought, for it can be used‥to cover words like ‘avant-garde’ and ‘experimental’. Ibid., Free Cinema‥can‥include any film in which the maker has succeeded in breaking the chains‥of financial or ideological control. 1963 Listener 14 Feb. 300/1 Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, A Kind of Loving, and other products of Free Cinema are, at best, admirable documentaries. 1617 *Free city [see imperial 10]. 1621 P. Heylyn Microcosmus 145 The citties of this country are of 3 sorts.‥ The third sorte are the Free or Imperiall citties.‥ These free citties are in number 60. 1665 Free city [see Hanseatic a.]. 1797 Encycl. Brit. VIII. 284/1 [Hamburg] was declared a free imperial city by a decree of the aulic. 1919 Times 28 June (Suppl. Treaty Versailles) p. vii/6 (Article 102) The Principal Allied and Associated Powers undertake to establish the town of Danzig‥as a Free City. It will be placed under the protection of the League of Nations. 1958 Listener 4 Dec. 936/1 A proposal that‥the western sector [of Berlin] should be made a ‘free city’ with its own government. 1959 Chambers's Encycl. VI. 261 Less secure was the position of the ‘free cities’ whose autonomy was not protected by imperial privileges. Among them‥were flourishing communities, such as Brunswick, Lüneburg, Magdeburg and Emden. 1965 A. J. P. Taylor Eng. Hist. 1914–1945 iv. 134 Thanks to him [sc. Lloyd George], Danzig became a Free City, instead of being annexed to Poland. 1820 Scott Ivanhoe viii, A knight who rode near him, the leader of a band of *Free Companions, or Condottieri; that is, of mercenaries belonging to no particular nation, but attached for the time to any prince by whom they were paid. 1872 Ruskin Fors Clav. II. xv. 11 A soldier in one of these *free companies. 1927 Mech. Engin. XLIX. 163/2 The writer‥asks what is *free-cutting steel, and how does it differ from steel difficult to machine? The latter is tough or ductile, and‥it is often most difficult to cut good threads in such material‥but‥free-cutting steel is ‘free-breaking’ steel. 1949 R. T. Rolfe Dict. Metallogr. (ed. 2) 108 Free-cutting quality, the quality possessed by a specific grade of a particular material whereby the machinability‥is increased, usually by the addition of a further constituent. 1958 Jrnl. Iron & Steel Inst. CXC. 89/3 In the field of free-cutting steels, special mention is made of leaded steels as a means of improving the machinability of low-carbon, high-nickel carburizing steels. 1963 L. Deighton Horse under Water xxvi. 109 A professional salvage *free-diver. 1963 Harper's Bazaar Jan. 30/2 Breathing in from containers strapped to their backs, experienced ‘free divers’ can go as deep as 130 ft. for 15 minutes. 1955 Sci. News Let. 2 July 13/1 *Free-diving has given marine biologists a revolutionary method of specimen collecting. 1957 G. Clark Archaeol. & Society (ed. 3) ii. 48 The development of the aqualung and of the technique of free-diving by M. Cousteau and his associates has recently made it possible to envisage submarine archaeology as a field of purposeful research as well as of lucky finds. 1940 War Illustr. 26 Jan. 20/2 Not until 1919 did the first successful ‘*free’ drop take place. 1944 Jane's All World's Aircraft 1943–44 25/1 After seven free drops [the parachutist] qualifies for his parachute badge. 1890 A. Marshall Princ. Econ. I. i. ii. 30 The growth of *free enterprise in England. 1938 Newsweek 3 Oct. 37/3 Management leaders representing the world's democratic countries agreed that free enterprise, not government control, is the key to better times. 1957 L. F. R. Williams State of Israel 103 The so-called middle-class villages—based on free-enterprise farming and hired labour. 1943 Lincoln (Nebr.) Jrnl. 16 Aug., *Free enterprisers in this country include the big industrialists. 1967 Listener 8 June 752/1 Conservatives and free-enterprisers of every colour. 1943 H. Read Educ. through Art v. 109 Play is the most obvious form of *free expression in children and there has been a persistent attempt on the part of anthropologists and psychologists to identify all forms of free expression with play. 1958 Spectator 4 July 14/1 First there were filmed excerpts from the studio, with its presiding talent, Lee Strasberg, analysing free expression exercises. 1967 M. Drabble Jerusalem Golden vi. 149 The efforts of the American teacher at their nursery group to make the children paint with free expression. 1967 D. P. Carew Many Years, Many Girls vii. 140 A ‘free expression’ afternoon was instituted during which we could please ourselves what we did. 1919 R. D. Goddard Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes 59 The time of descent [of a rocket] will also be short; but *free fall can be satisfactorily prevented by a suitable parachute. 1920 Flight XII. 210/1 With parachutes having problematical opening‥the uncertainty of the free-fall is such that no one ever dreams of making a practice drop with it at less than 2,000 ft. 1930 P. White How to fly Airplane xxii. 304 The usual and safest time to open the parachute is immediately after clearing the ship, unless an emergency arises in which it is necessary to make a long free fall before pulling the rip cord. 1953 Authentic Science Fiction 15 Feb. 49 She wanted me to explain to you that‥she was weightless at that point, ‘as I'm in free fall’. 1955 Times 25 Aug. 6/3 She claimed a world record for a ‘free fall’ jump, having descended approximately 26,238 ft. before she pulled the ripcord. 1956 W. A. Heflin U.S.A.F. Dict. 221 Free-fall, to make a free fall. 1958 C. C. Adams et al. Space Flight 142 In the free fall (zero gravity of orbit), telescopes (particularly radio telescopes) of fantastic size could be assembled. 1959 W. Golding (title) Free fall. 1959 Time 17 Aug. 15/3, I free-fell an eternity. 1961 Listener 9 Nov. 765/1 The occupants of the projectile would have been in free fall, and therefore weightless, from the moment of firing. 1962 F. I. Ordway et al. Basic Astronautics viii. 346 An interplanetary vehicle after its freefall back to Earth will have an approach velocity of 25,000 mph or more. 1971 Daily Tel. 16 Aug. 9/7 When he pulled the cord he had been free-falling for 5,000 ft. 1958 R. Hoggart in N. Mackenzie Conviction 137 The ‘*free’ films made by such men as Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz. 1602 Carew Cornwall 31a, After Shell-fish succeedeth the *free-fish, so termed, because he wanteth this shelly bulwarke. 1922 Flight XIV. 147/2 It is probable that the resistance of the supports in *free flight can be cut down to one-half the minimum drag of the wing. 1939 Jrnl. R. Aeronaut. Soc. XLIII. 792 With background experience in development of a free-spinning tunnel‥the Committee felt that the attempt to develop a free-flight tunnel was amply justified. 1954 N.Y. Times Mag. 29 Aug. 49/1 The Honest John free-flight artillery rocket is this [pre-set] type of missile. 1959 Listener 12 Feb. 282/1 The condition of weightlessness during free-flight. 1970 R. Turnill Lang. Space 48 An Apollo space~craft is also in ‘free flight’ all the way to the moon and back once it has been injected into the required trajectory. 1903 Westm. Gaz. 17 June 7/2 The *free food Unionists. 1903 National Rev. Aug. 893 Though calling themselves Free Fooders, they are not in favour of Free Food. 1967 R. S. Churchill Winston Churchill II. ii. 62 Churchill was a prime mover in what was ultimately to be named the Free Food League. 1903 Duke of Devonshire Let. 10 Oct. in J. Amery Life J. Chamberlain (1969) VI. cix. 482, I am not sure whether you and the other *Free Fooders do not wish to take up a more hostile attitude‥than I. 1905 Spectator 7 Jan. 13/2 Such a supposition‥is surely strange as coming from convinced Free-Fooders. 1969 J. Amery Life J. Chamberlain VI. cxi. 559 This amendment was not one which the ‘Free Fooders’ would be likely to oppose. 1952 in N. Mailer Advts. for Myself (1961) 157 Sam resents‥the slender coffee table, a *free-form poised like a spider on wire legs. 1957 ‘P. Quentin’ Suspicious Circ. iv. 37, I walked‥towards the free-form swimming-pool. 1960 M. Millar Stranger in my Grave xv. 161 A half-finished free-form table which Jim was making. 1968 Economist 17 Feb. 76/1 All these conglomerates have ‘free-form’ management structures, with a small central staff supervising the profitability of a host of disparate subsidiaries. 1969 Sunday Times (Colour Suppl.) 12 Jan. 15/3 In most of the communities there is free-form music, an uncoordinated bedlam of bells, guitars, drums and oriental chant. 1909 Daily Chron. 28 July 7/6 (Advt.), Make use of the Free Coupon printed here and you will receive‥a *free-gift parcel containing a Bottle of Guy's Tonic. 1933 Punch 19 July 61/1 She‥collected over a thousand Free Gift coupons which she has exchanged for a portable radio set. 1965 Guardian 19 May 7/1 Gimmicks and the offering of free gifts to promote sales were condemned. 1897 ‘Mark Twain’ Following Equator 687 No way of getting anything out of the rock but the coarser-grained ‘*free’ gold. 1901 Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.) 11 Oct. 8/4 The rock is a free-milling quartzite, plentifully impregnated with free gold in specks, plainly visible to the naked eye. 1960 B. Ramsey Barkerville 21 A small vein which showed substantial values and several sizeable fragments of free gold. 1651 C. Cartwright Cert. Relig. i. 108 How many, O Lord, doe with Pelagius fight for Free-will against Thy *Free-grace? 1871 Carlyle in Mrs. Carlyle's Lett. I. 380 [She] was filled with the consciousness of free grace. 1647 J. Saltmarsh Sparkl. Glory (1847) 141 The *Free-Gracian. They that have discovered up into free-grace or the mystery of salvation [etc.]. 1610 J. Guillim Heraldry iii. vii. 108 There is a kinde of Holly that is void of these Prickles‥and therefore called *Free-holly, which in my opinion is the best Holly. 1858 Simmonds Dict. Trade, *Free public-house, one not belonging to a brewer; the landlord has therefore free liberty to brew his own beer, or purchase where he chooses. 1894 G. Moore Esther Waters xxx. 236 The ‘King's Head’‥had‥one thing in its favour—it was a free house. 1927 W. E. Collinson Contemp. Eng. 80 Tied houses and free houses. 1930 Daily Express 16 Aug. 10/2 To bring about in large regional areas the compulsory merging of brewery companies, including ‘free’ houses. 1959 ‘O. Mills’ Stairway to Murder ii. 18 The notification ‘Free House’ beside the inn-sign. 1930 D. Verrill Aircraft Bk. for Boys xi. 189 A diagram of a ‘*free jump’ from a plane, in which the jumper counts five (or more) before pulling the rip-cord and releasing the parachute. 1806 Let. 26 Dec. in L. Sumbel Mem. (1811) III. 212 He has received Mr. Thomas Sheridan's directions to put her name and friend on the *free-list. 1833 Deb. Congress U.S. 20 Feb. 1749 The gentleman moved to strike the article of cotton out from the free list of imports. 1845 Ann. Rep. Treas. U.S. 6 An adequate revenue will still be produced, and permit the addition to the free list of salt and guano. 1855 M. Thomson Doesticks xxvi. 229 The Bowery Theatre‥where they announce a grand ‘benefit’ five nights in the week, for the purpose of cutting off the free list. 1856 [see free a. 32]. 1870 J. K. Medbery Men & Myst. Wall St. 20 The securities‥are divided into two classes, known respectively as the Regular and the Free List. 1909 Daily Chron. 13 Apr. 5/2 Cocoa was free listed on the ground that‥it was a common necessity of life. 1969 Listener 13 Nov. 680/3 The Spectator's reviewer‥has been dropped from the free list at that theatre. 1967 B. Norman Matter of Mandrake viii. 56 *Free-load, Neddy Masters had said. Get a little drunk. 1968 Word Study Dec. 5/2 A leech is one who attaches himself to another person in order to borrow or to freeload or merely to relieve his loneliness. 1947 Time 24 Mar. 63 Even men who don't frequent saloons would come in to see a hockey game. And *free loaders were no problem; most people bought at least a few beers while they watched. 1948 R. Chandler Let. 20 Sept. (1966) 165 We didn't have this cat seventeen years in order for some freeloader to say God forgive him he'd even take a piece about her for his goddam parish magazine. 1951 N.Y. Times 15 Apr. vii. 23/3 Congressmen are great freeloaders. 1960 News Chron. 12 July 4/4 The weirdest assortment of beatniks, drunks, romantics, poets, free-loaders, millionaires. 1967 Melody Maker 23 Dec. 7 A Freeloader is one who has discovered that you can drink yourself silly for absolutely no expense if you attend all the receptions. 1956 J. Cannon Who struck John? 123 [The art of] *free loading in the fight racket has diminished. 1964 S. Bellow Herzog (1965) 124 My lousy, free-loading bohemian family, all chisellers. 1971 Daily Tel. 1 July 7/3 Since the food cost an average of £1·75 a head, she thought this was freeloading at the taypayers' expense. [1814 Theatr. Inquis. IV. 384 Mr. and Mrs. Kemble, as Freelove and Lady Eliza,‥were beyond all praise.] 1822 A. Cunningham Tales Eng. & Sc. Peasantry II. 73 [Her] thoughts had been weaned‥from *free love to religion. 1859 Holland Gold F. vi. 96 The free-love doctrines and free-love practices of the day. 1872 Tennyson Last Tourn. 275 ‘Free love—free field—we love but while we may.’ 1971 Guardian 23 July 7/2 A young person today was bombarded on all sides by invitations to free love. 1858 Baltimore Sun 28 June (Bartlett), Abolitionists, spiritualists, and *free lovers. 1872 F. Hall Recent Exempl. False Phil. 89 Free-lovers may, with good reason, look up. 1879 Geo. Eliot Theo. Such xviii. 318 Affection which lifts us above emigrating rats and *free-loving baboons. 1864 Realm 17 Feb. 3 Advocates of *free-lovism, who believe the great evil of the world to be the indissolubility of marriage. 1854 Wide West (San Francisco) 26 Nov. 2/3 The excitement during the week on the subject of the ‘*free lunches’ has been of the most intense character. 1889 Kansas Times & Star 25 June, Two‥Saloon keepers here were notified by the police department to discontinue the free lunches at their places. 1905 Daily Chron. 9 Sept. 6/7 The free-lunch system in Manchester is dying out. 1908 G. H. Lorimer J. Spurlock v. 82, I had mapped out the most complete little free-lunch route in New York City. 1909 ‘O. Henry’ Roads of Destiny iv. 58 [His] memories of the old hotel are limited to his having been kicked out from its free-lunch counter in 1873. 1927 H. Crane Let. 16 Feb. (1965) 286 If you want the good old beer, the old free-lunch counter and everything thrown in—for 15¢ a glass. 1876 Ventura Free Press (San Buenaventura, Calif.) 8 Jan. 1/6 A healthy *free luncher‥commenced operations with a sandwich. 1898 Daily News 15 July 6/6, I felt flattered myself, a mere free-luncher, when I saw the great Joseph, with the income of a prince, thus deigning to superintend my viands. 1895 City Review 3 July 3/2 *Free milling ores are usually obtained from the auriferous quartz lying near the surface. 1838 in J. S. Buckingham America (1841) I. 282 Henry has relations‥some of them free, and likely he has *free papers. 1881 Century Mag. Nov. 126/1 It was the custom in the state of Maryland to require the free colored people to have what were called free papers. 1933 Flight 30 Mar. 302 (heading) *Free parachute jumping. 1935 C. G. Burge Compl. Bk. Aviation 489/2 Free parachute, a parachute whose pack is secured only to the body of the user, the release of which is dependent on some act on his part other than falling from the aircraft. 1942 A. M. Low Parachutes iii. 39 In the ‘free’ parachute the airman pulls the rip-cord himself. 1876 Stainer & Barrett Dict. Mus. Terms, *Free-parts, additional parts to a canon or fugue, having independent melodies, in order to strengthen or complete the harmony. 1857 Trans. Ill. Agric. Soc. II. 2 The railroad company sent *free passes over their whole line. 1894 Free pass [see free a. 32]. 1879 English Mechanic 5 Sept. 639/1 This dark space is found to increase and diminish as the vacuum is varied, and is found to be the mean *free path of the molecules of the residual gas. 1940 J. H. Jeans Introd. Kinetic Theory Gases v. 131 Viscosity and conduction of heat can be explained in terms of the collisions of gas molecules, and of the free paths which the molecules describe between collisions. 1947 Proc. Physical Soc. LIX. 536 For rooms of the usual shapes the mean free path of sound is independent of the shape. 1966 McGraw-Hill Encycl. Sci. & Technol. VIII. 187 The types of mean free paths which are used most frequently are for elastic collisions of molecules in a gas, of electrons in a crystal, of phonons in a crystal, and of neutrons in a moderator. 1945 C. V. Good Dict. Educ. 292/1 *Period, free,‥designating the time in a regular school day during which a teacher or a pupil has no definitely assigned duties. 1961 Where? Winter 1960–61, 14 Free period, (1) time in a school curriculum for private or unsupervised study. (2) time when a teacher is not allocated a class. 1965 ‘O. Mills’ Dusty Death xx. 196 Old Cowley knows I skive off during that free period. 1968 ‘P. Hobson’ Titty's Dead ii. 22 ‘So sorry if I'm late. But it's my free period.’‥ She taught classics and she was the Senior Mistress. 1907 Hansard, Commons 15 May 1054 These *free places‥would be for Public Elementary School children who would not be asked to compete with children outside but who would only be asked to pass a qualifying examination. 1909 Daily Chron. 28 July 5/5 The distinction between fee-paying and free-place scholars. 1920 Rep. Departm. Committee on Scholarships 2 in Parl. Papers (Cmd. 968) XV. 385 To qualify as a ‘free place’ pupil the child must have attended a Public Elementary School for a certain period previously. Ibid. 35 The existing provision of free places in secondary schools appears to us inadequate. 1926 Rep. Consult. Cttee. Educ. of Adolescent 133 The Free Place Examination is conducted in writing. 1921 G. Sampson English for the English 44 Scholarship children or ‘*free-placers’. 1961 Economist 16 Dec. 1119/1 These ‘free-placers’ are sometimes brighter than the fee-payers. [1886 E. F. Smith tr. Richter's Chem. Carbon Compounds 200 The free acid radicals, like all monovalent groups, cannot exist free.] 1900 Jrnl. Amer. Chem. Soc. XXII. 768 We have to deal here with a *free radical, triphenylmethyl. 1948 W. A. Waters Chem. Free Radicals (ed. 2) i. 4 The great chemical activity of the free radicals is to be associated with available combining energy of the odd electron. 1954 Sci. Amer. Sept. 86/3 Fragments of molecules known as free radicals. 1971 Nature 12 Feb. 500/1 The presence of free radicals in cigarette smoke was demonstrated by Lyons et al. 1912 Mulford & Clay Buck Peters 186 Outlying *free range had been thoroughly combed. 1947 Steamboat (Colo.) Pilot 13 Feb. 8/4 Then sheep commenced to come for a share of the free range. 1950 N.Z. Jrnl. Agric. Dec. 550 Pullets are usually given good free range, but frequently cockerels are not so well treated. 1960 Times 2 May 8/6 At least one farmer with a roadside trade knows that increasing numbers of motorist shoppers are looking for eggs produced by free-range hens. Ibid., His blackboard announces two prices which show the premium he expects to be paid for the free-range egg. 1968 Times 29 Nov. 13/1 There seems to be no scientific basis for the commonly held belief that free-range eggs have more flavour and are more nutritious than battery eggs. 1964 R. H. Battin Astronaut. Guidance 392 *Free-return trajectories. 1969 Daily Tel. (Colour Suppl.) 10 Jan. 21 (caption) Moonbug retro-fires to achieve ‘free-return’ elliptical orbit. 1970 Times 15 Apr. 10/2 As the vehicle travelled round to the back of the moon, the effect of the lunar gravitation field was such as to swing the ship round on to a homeward trajectory. This is what the flight dynamics specialists call a free return trajectory. 1926 A. S. Neill Problem Child xvi. 209 The Germans had a *free school, rather like King Alfred School, in London. A school with co-education, much freedom, no punishments, no rewards. 1968 Time 2 Feb. 60/3 Children who emerge from such a free school tend to be behind in factual knowledge‥but they catch up quickly because they are better able to interpret what they read. 1974 D. Head Free Way to Learning i. 19 But free schools wish to be free as a ‘free-thinker’ is free—free from the authoritarian attitudes, the examinations, the grades, the competition, and all that makes school a mirror of society as it is. 1977 Undercurrents June–July 16/2 Down in West Cork settlers use the local protestant primary schools or none rather than send children to catholic schools. I suppose in due course free schools and play schools will be formed in country areas. 1890 Nation (N.Y.) 1 May 346/1 The latest bill‥provides for‥the purchase by the Treasury of 4,500,000 ounces of ‘*free silver’ per month. 1895 Chicago Tribune 6 Apr. 1 Free Silver or Ruin, Hinrichsen will force his Fiat Money campaign. 1900 ‘Mark Twain’ Speeches (1910) 192, I am in favor of‥the gold standard and free silver. 1942 R. G. Lillard Desert Challenge 50 Free silver was the symbol‥of the agricultural West and South against the financial East. 1902 Encycl. Brit. XXXII. 642/2 *Free skating,‥affording scope for the performance of dance steps and brilliant individual figures. 1970 Radio Times 29 Jan. 54 Double and treble Axel-Paulsen Jumps are among the most difficult and spectacular manœuvres in free-skating. 1848 N.Y. Weekly Tribune 15 July 3/4 To address the citizens‥upon the subject of *Free Soil and Free Speech. 1859 Geo. Eliot Let. 18 Sept. (1954) III. 154, I begin to think silence the only good thing‥if the inevitable result of *free speech is, that we must fall‥into complaint and accusation. 1943 J. S. Huxley Evol. Ethics vii. 59 The suppression of free speech and inquiry. 1876 J. Fergusson Hist. Indian Archit. i. v. 121 A *free-standing building. 1936 Archit. Rev. LXXIX. 14 (caption) It shows the free-standing structural column which occurs in the hall of each flat. 1951 Good Housek. Home Encycl. 232/1 Both free-standing and built-in models‥are available. 1963 W. F. Grimes in Foster & Alcock Culture & Environment v. 95 A ring of free-standing stones set within or mounted upon a circular bank. 1899 Daily Chron. 27 Sept. 5/3 The sickly sentiment of the *Free Staters. 1940 L. A. G. Strong Sun on Water 206 When the troubles came, it was Johnny‥who turned Republican, and Denis a fanatical Free Stater. 1719 London & Wise Compl. Gard. iv. 52 It should be Grafted on a Quince-stock, because on a *Free-Stock the Fruit grows spotted, small, and crumpled. 1763 J. Wheeler Botan. & Gard. Dict. s.v. Pyrus, All the sorts propagated in gardens are produced by budding, or grafting them upon stocks of their own kind; which are commonly called free-stocks. 1852 G. W. Johnson Cottage Gardeners' Dict. 851/2 Free Stocks are such as are raised from the seed, layers, &c., of any of the cultivated varieties of fruit-trees, and others. 1955 R. Atkinson Growing Apples ii. 20 A few seedlings—called ‘free’ or ‘crab’ stocks and grown from cider apple or wild crab pips—are still sometimes used. 1823 P. Nicholson Pract. Build. 223 *Free Stuff, that timber or stuff which is quite clean, or without knots. 1620 Wilkinson Courts Leet & Baron 108 Then call the *free suitors and dozonors one after another. c1640 J. Smyth Lives Berkeleys (1883) I. 195 Which in the Court of this Lord in Radclive street shee denyed; whereupon the freesuters there gave judgment vpon his life. 1934 Webster, *Free style. 1950 Oxf. Jun. Encycl. IX. 454/2 In free-style and breast-stroke races the competitors start with a dive. 1957 N. Frye Anat. Criticism 91 The free-style allegories. 1958 P. Gammond Decca Bk. Jazz x. 125 He helped to keep free-style jazz alive with his Clambake Seven. 1960 M. Woodhouse Tree Frog ii. 10 She‥swam free style for the West of England. 1931 Times Lit. Suppl. 1 Oct. 742/4 Marriage, companionate marriage, *free unions, are considered intimately. 1919 L. Silberstein Elem. Vector Algebra i. 2 It is then obviously convenient not to include position among the determining characteristics of a vector. Such vectors, in distinction from localized ones, are called *free vectors. 1964 E. Œ. Wolstenhome Elem. Vectors i. 2 When the term vector is used, it is assumed that it refers to a free vector. 1908 A. Noyes W. Morris 119 The so-called ‘*free-verse’ experiments, with abrupt and meaningless jerks or bumps. 1914 C. Mackenzie Sinister St. II. iii. ix. 682, I hate Free Thought, Free Love and Free Verse. 1926 W. R. Inge Lay Thoughts 31 A cubist or a free-verse writer. 1926 Glasgow Herald 1 Feb. 8 Those among the *free-versers who are not purely imbecile are disgruntled, sarcastic, and gloomy. 1931 Economist 25 Apr. 885/1 The House was accorded the opportunity of a ‘*free vote’, which it gave‥in favour of the Bill. 1955 Times 30 June 11/3 In a free vote‥the House of Commons signified a desire that legislation should be introduced to improve the financial position of junior Ministers. 1971 Times 20 Oct. 1/1 Mr. Heath's dramatic decision on Monday to concede a free vote to Conservative backbenchers placed Opposition leaders in an extremely difficult position. 1637 Rutherford Let. 23 Sep. (1891) 523 My spirit also is in *free ward. Ibid. 17 Sep. (1891) 516 Jesus hath a backbond of all our temptations, that the free-warders shall come out by law and justice, in respect of the infinite and great sum that the Redeemer paid. a1718 Penn Tracts Wks. 1726 I. 726 Sculpture, *Free-work, inlayings and Painted Windows.