verb (used without object), free-fell, free-fall·en, free-fall·ing.

(of parachutists) to descend initially, as for a designated interval, in a free fall: The jumpers were required to free-fall for eight seconds.


denoting or suggesting a free fall: a free-fall recession.


free fall


the hypothetical fall of a body such that the only force acting upon it is that of gravity.
the part of a parachute jump that precedes the opening of the parachute.
a decline, especially a sudden or rapid decline, as in value or prestige, that appears to be endless or bottomless: The economy was in a free fall all winter.
Also free-fall (for defs 1, 2).

Origin of free fall

First recorded in 1915–20 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for free-fall

collapse, decline, dive, drop, plummet, plunge, sag, slump, plummeting

Examples from the Web for free-fall

Contemporary Examples of free-fall

Historical Examples of free-fall

  • That broke me from free-fall around Earth to gravity-fall toward Earth.

  • All this, with some oil painting and free-fall workouts in the gym, passed the time.

    The Repairman

    Harry Harrison

  • From the looks of Cadet Astro, free-fall wrestling should be child's play for him!

    Stand by for Mars!

    Carey Rockwell

  • There was a moment of free-fall, then the drive engine came on and the grav-field equilibrated.

    The Dueling Machine

    Benjamin William Bova

  • Tom couldn't even go into free-fall for ten minutes without getting sick all over the place.

    Gold in the Sky

    Alan Edward Nourse

British Dictionary definitions for free-fall

free fall


free descent of a body in which the gravitational force is the only force acting on it
the part of a parachute descent before the parachute opens
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

free-fall in Culture

free fall

In physics, the motion of a body being acted upon only by gravity. A satellite in orbit is in free fall, as is a skydiver (if we neglect the effects of air resistance).


During free fall, objects are said to be weightless.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with free-fall

free fall

A rapid, uncontrolled decline, as in The markets threatened to go into free fall and we came close to outright panic. This term transfers the aeronautical meaning of a free fall, that is, “a fall through the air without any impedance, such as a parachute,” to other kinds of precipitous drop. [Second half of 1900s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.