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freewheeling

[free-hwee-ling, -wee-]
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adjective
  1. operating in the manner of a freewheel.
  2. (of a person) moving about freely, independently, or irresponsibly.
  3. (of words, remarks, actions, etc.) unrestrained; irresponsible: Loose, freewheeling charges were traded during the argument.

Origin of freewheeling

First recorded in 1900–05; freewheel + -ing2

freewheel

[free-hweel, -weel]
noun
  1. a device in the transmission of a motor vehicle that automatically disengages the drive shaft whenever it begins to turn more rapidly than the engine.
  2. a form of rear bicycle wheel that has a device freeing it from the driving mechanism, as when the pedals are stopped in coasting.
verb (used without object)
  1. (of a vehicle or its operator) to coast with the wheels disengaged from the driving mechanism.
  2. to move or function freely, independently, unconcernedly, or the like (often followed by about, through, around, etc.): The two friends freewheeled around the country after graduation.

Origin of freewheel

First recorded in 1895–1900; free + wheel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Contemporary Examples


British Dictionary definitions for freewheeling

freewheeling

adjective
  1. relating to, operating as, or having a freewheel; coasting
  2. informal free of restraints; carefree or uninhibited

freewheel

noun
  1. a ratchet device in the rear hub of a bicycle wheel that permits the wheel to rotate freely while the pedals are stationary
  2. a device in the transmission of some vehicles that automatically disengages the drive shaft when it rotates more rapidly than the engine shaft, so that the drive shaft can turn freely
verb
  1. (intr) to coast in a vehicle or on a bicycle using the freewheel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for freewheeling

adj.

1903, from free wheel (1899, see free (adj.) + wheel); a bicycle wheel that turns even when not being pedaled, later from the name of a kind of automobile drive system that allowed cars to coast without being slowed by the engine. Figurative sense is from 1911.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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