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- 1. a. Exemption or release from slavery or imprisonment; personal liberty. letter of freedom (now hist.): a document emancipating a slave.
- b. fig. Liberation from the bondage or dominating influence of sin, spiritual servitude, worldly ties, etc.
- c. Exemption or release from the obligations of a contractual agreement; spec. release from a marriage, divorce.
- 2. Nobility or generosity of character, magnanimity. Cf. FREE adj. 3. Obs.
- 3. The state or fact of not being subject to despotic or autocratic control, or to a foreign power; civil liberty; independence.
- 4. a. The state of being able to act without hindrance or restraint; liberty of action. Freq. with to and infinitive. academic freedom: see ACADEMIC adj. 2b.
- b. spec. Liberty in respect of a particular sphere of life or action, as freedom of association, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of the press (cf. press freedom n. at PRESS n.1 Compounds 1a(b)), etc.
- c. As a count noun: a particular type of freedom (sense 4a), esp. when regarded as a right; a civil liberty. Usu. in pl. four freedoms: those propounded by Franklin D. Roosevelt (see quot. 19411).
- 5. The fact of not being controlled by or subject to fate; the power of self-determination attributed to the will. In philosophical and theological contexts sometimes contrasted with necessity; cf. NECESSITY n. 2.
- 6. Readiness or willingness to act; keenness, enthusiasm. Cf. FREE adj. 15. Obs. (Sc. in later use).
- 7. The state of being free from a defect, encumbrance, disadvantage, etc.
- 8. a. Frankness, openness, familiarity (in conversation or social interaction); outspokenness; (occas.) an instance of this.
- 9. Facility or ease in action or activity; absence of encumbrance or hindrance.
- 10. Boldness or vigour in conception or execution, esp. of a literary or other artistic work; the fact of not strictly observing conventions of style or form. Cf. FREE adj. 10b.
- 11. Sc. A piece of common land allotted by certain communities to freemen, or to other appropriately qualified members. Now hist. and rare.
- 12. degree of freedom.
- a. Physics and Mech. Each of the independent modes or directions in which an object may undergo displacement, translation, or deformation.
- b. Physical Chem. An independent capability of a system to vary without altering the number of phases and components present; each of the independently variable parameters which together determine the state of a system.
- c. Statistics. A property of a statistical distribution or of a statistic, equal to the number of values that can be arbitrarily and independently assigned to the distribution, or the number of independent and unrestricted quantities contributing to the statistic.
- II. Exemption, immunity, privilege.
- 13. a. Exemption from a service, obligation, charge, or duty; the state of being so exempted; an instance of this; an immunity, a privilege. Cf. FRANCHISE n. 2.
- b. Immunity, exemption, or privilege possessed by a city, corporation, etc.; an instance of this.
- c. A city or corporation possessing such immunity (obs.); the district over which the immunity extends; the liberties (see LIBERTY n.1 7c). Now rare.
- 14. a. The right of participating in the privileges attached to membership of a guild, company, etc.; (also) the liberty or right to practise a trade.
- b. The right of participating in the privileges attached to citizenship of a town or city (in later use chiefly as an honour conferred upon an eminent or distinguished person).
- c. A fee or fine paid to acquire the freedom of a company, or the right to practise a trade; = freedom fine n. at Compounds 3. Obs.
- 15. In extended use: unrestricted use of or access to something; the free run of a place.