Origin of freelance

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for freelance

self-employed, unaffiliated

Examples from the Web for freelance

Contemporary Examples of freelance

Historical Examples of freelance

  • "Freelance, by God," the Chief sighed and collapsed into his chair.

    Arm of the Law

    Harry Harrison

  • Occasionally he assisted Quirk with a black and white sketch for "The Freelance."

    Grey Town

    Gerald Baldwin

  • The 'Freelance' is all right, but it never can be the 'Mercury.'

    Grey Town

    Gerald Baldwin

  • The thing that I should now most like to be is a freelance writer.


    Gerhart Hauptmann

  • Freelance writer and author, Isaac Don Levine for the record.

    Warren Commission (1 of 26): Hearings Vol. I (of 15)

    The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy

British Dictionary definitions for freelance



  1. Also called: freelancera self-employed person, esp a writer or artist, who is not employed continuously but hired to do specific assignments
  2. (as modifier)a freelance journalist
a person, esp a politician, who supports several causes or parties without total commitment to any one
(in medieval Europe) a mercenary soldier or adventurer


to work as a freelance on (an assignment, etc)


as a freelance

Word Origin for freelance

C19 (in sense 3): later applied to politicians, writers, etc
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 freelance

also free lance, free-lance, "medieval mercenary warrior," 1820 ("Ivanhoe"), from free (adj.) + lance (n.); apparently a coinage of Sir Walter Scott's. Figurative sense is from 1864; specifically of journalism by 1882.


1902, from freelance (n.). Related: Freelancer (1898); freelanced; freelancing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper