for free, Informal. without charge: The tailor mended my jacket for free.
    free and clear, Law. without any encumbrance, as a lien or mortgage: They owned their house free and clear.
    free and easy,
    1. unrestrained; casual; informal.
    2. excessively or inappropriately casual; presumptuous.
    make free with,
    1. to use as one's own; help oneself to: If you make free with their liquor, you won't be invited again.
    2. to treat with too much familiarity; take liberties with.
    set free, to release; liberate; free: The prisoners were set free.
    with a free hand, generously; freely; openhandedly: He entertains visitors with a free hand.

Origin of free

before 900; Middle English fre, Old English frēo; cognate with Gothic freis, Old High German frī (German frei), Dutch vrij, Sanskrit priyá- dear. Cf. friend, Friday
Related formsfree·ness, nouno·ver·free, adjectiveo·ver·free·ly, adverbqua·si-free, adjectivequa·si-free·ly, adverbun·free, verb (used with object), un·freed, un·free·ing, adjectiveun·free·ly, adverb

Synonym study

39. See release. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unfree

Contemporary Examples of unfree

Historical Examples of unfree

British Dictionary definitions for unfree


adjective freer or freest

able to act at will; not under compulsion or restraint
  1. having personal rights or liberty; not enslaved or confined
  2. (as noun)land of the free
(often postpositive and foll by from) not subject (to) or restricted (by some regulation, constraint, etc); exempta free market; free from pain
(of a country, etc) autonomous or independent
exempt from external direction or restriction; not forced or inducedfree will
not subject to conventional constraintsfree verse
(of jazz) totally improvised, with no preset melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic basis
not exact or literala free translation
costing nothing; provided without chargefree entertainment
law (of property)
  1. not subject to payment of rent or performance of services; freehold
  2. not subject to any burden or charge, such as a mortgage or lien; unencumbered
(postpositive; often foll by of or with) ready or generous in using or giving; liberal; lavishfree with advice
unrestrained by propriety or good manners; licentious
not occupied or in use; availablea free cubicle
not occupied or busy; without previous engagementsI'm not free until Wednesday
open or available to all; public
without charge to the subscriber or userfreepost; freephone
not fixed or joined; loosethe free end of a chain
without obstruction or impedimentfree passage
chem chemically uncombinedfree nitrogen
phonetics denoting a vowel that can occur in an open syllable, such as the vowel in see as opposed to the vowel in cat
grammar denoting a morpheme that can occur as a separate wordCompare bound 1 (def. 8a)
logic denoting an occurrence of a variable not bound by a quantifierCompare bound 1 (def. 9)
(of some materials, such as certain kinds of stone) easily worked
nautical (of the wind) blowing from the quarter
feel free (usually imperative) to regard oneself as having permission to perform a specified action
for free not standard without charge or cost
free and easy casual or tolerant; easy-going
make free with to take liberties with; behave too familiarly towards


in a free manner; freely
without charge or cost
nautical with the wind blowing from the quartera yacht sailing free

verb frees, freeing or freed (tr)

(sometimes foll by up) to set at liberty; release
to remove obstructions, attachments, or impediments from; disengage
(often foll by of or from) to relieve or rid (of obstacles, pain, etc)


informal a freesheet
Derived Formsfreer, nounfreely, adverbfreeness, noun

Word Origin for free

Old English frēo; related to Old Saxon, Old High German frī, Gothic freis free, Sanskrit priya dear
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 unfree

c.1300, from un- (1) "not" + free (adj.). Cf. Middle Dutch onvri, Old High German unfri, German unfrei, M.Da. ufri.



Old English freo "free, exempt from, not in bondage," also "noble; joyful," from Proto-Germanic *frijaz (cf. Old Frisian fri, Old Saxon and Old High German vri, German frei, Dutch vrij, Gothic freis "free"), from PIE *prijos "dear, beloved," from root *pri- "to love" (cf. Sanskrit priyah "own, dear, beloved," priyate "loves;" Old Church Slavonic prijati "to help," prijatelji "friend;" Welsh rhydd "free").

The primary sense seems to have been "beloved, friend, to love;" which in some languages (notably Germanic and Celtic) developed also a sense of "free," perhaps from the terms "beloved" or "friend" being applied to the free members of one's clan (as opposed to slaves, cf. Latin liberi, meaning both "free" and "children").

Cf. Gothic frijon "to love;" Old English freod "affection, friendship," friga "love," friðu "peace;" Old Norse friðr, German Friede "peace;" Old English freo "wife;" Old Norse Frigg "wife of Odin," literally "beloved" or "loving;" Middle Low German vrien "to take to wife, Dutch vrijen, German freien "to woo."

Of nations, "not subject to foreign rule or to despotism," it is recorded from late 14c. (Free world "non-communist nations" attested from 1950.) Sense of "given without cost" is 1580s, from notion of "free of cost." Free lunch, originally offered in bars to draw in business, by 1850, American English. Free pass on railways, etc., attested by 1850. Free speech in Britain used of a privilege in Parliament since the time of Henry VIII. In U.S., as a civil right, it became a prominent phrase in the debates over the Gag Rule (1836).

Free enterprise recorded from 1890; free trade is from 1823. Free will is from early 13c. Free association in psychology is from 1899. Free love "sexual liberation" attested from 1822. Free range (adj.) is attested by 1960. Free and easy "unrestrained" is from 1690s.



Old English freogan "to free, liberate, manumit," also "to love, think of lovingly, honor," from freo (see free (adj.)). Cf. Old Frisian fria "to make free;" Old Saxon friohan "to court, woo;" German befreien "to free," freien "to woo;" Old Norse frja "to love;" Gothic frijon "to love." Related: Freed; freeing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with unfree


In addition to the idioms beginning with free

  • free agent
  • free and clear
  • free and easy
  • free as a bird
  • free enterprise
  • free fall
  • free hand
  • free lunch
  • free rein

also see:

  • breathe easy (freely)
  • feel free
  • footloose and fancy-free
  • for free
  • get off (scot-free)
  • home free
  • make free with
  • of one's own accord (free will)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.