free lunch


food provided without charge in some bars and saloons to attract customers.
Informal. something given with no expectation of repayment, service, responsibility, etc.: In politics there's no free lunch—everyone expects favors to be repaid.

Origin of free lunch

First recorded in 1835–45 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for free lunch

Historical Examples of free lunch

  • So hey for the wicker demi-john and the free-lunch brand of grub!

    Rippling Rhymes

    Walt Mason

  • The free-lunch man on the corner told me where you were, quick.

  • The young man flirted a thumb in the direction of the free-lunch counter.

    Local Color

    Irvin S. Cobb

  • The odd jobs about saloons which are usually done for beer-payment he performed under the inspiration of the free-lunch counter.

    To Him That Hath

    Leroy Scott

  • The free-lunch for delicate palates was kept in a closet of turbid glass close to the counter.

    The Cabin

    Vicente Blasco Ibez

Idioms and Phrases with free lunch

free lunch

Something acquired without due effort or cost. For example, In politics there is no free lunch; every favor calls for repayment. This expression alludes to the custom of taverns offering food free of charge to induce customers to buy drinks. It was soon extended to other kinds of gift but is often used in a negative way, as in the example. [First half of 1800s]

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