free

Definitions

General English

  • adjective able to do what you want; not forced to do anything

Accounting

  • adjective not costing any money
  • verb to make something available or easy

Agriculture

  • adjective not attached, confined or controlled
  • verb to release something or someone from constraint

Computing

  • adjective available for use or not currently being used
  • noun used to describe spare bytes available on disk or in memory
  • verb to erase, remove or back up programs or files to provide space in memory

Information & Library Science

  • suffix
    (written as -free)
    added to adjectives to show that they do not have the thing mentioned

Law

  • verb to release someone from a responsibility or from prison

Military

  • adjective not in custody or under another person’s domination

Publishing

  • adjective not needing to be paid for

Origin & History of “free”

The prehistoric ancestor of free was a term of affection uniting the members of a family in a common bond, and implicitly excluding their servants or slaves – those who were not ‘free’. It comes ultimately from Indo-European *prijos, whose signification ‘dear, beloved’ is revealed in such collateral descendants as Sanskrit priyás ‘dear’, Russian prijatel’ ‘friend’, and indeed English friend. Its Germanic offspring, *frijaz, displays the shift from ‘affection’ to ‘liberty’, as shown in German frei, Dutch vrij, Swedish and Danish fri, and English free. Welsh rhydd ‘free’ comes from the same Indo-European source.
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