Denotation vs. Connotation

free lance

a mercenary soldier or military adventurer of the Middle Ages, often of knightly rank, who offered his services to any state, party, or cause.
freelance (defs 1, 2).


or free-lance

[free-lans, -lahns, -lans, -lahns] /ˈfriˌlæns, -ˌlɑns, -ˈlæns, -ˈlɑns/
noun, Also, free lance
Also, freelancer. a person who works as a writer, designer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer.
a person who contends in a cause or in a succession of various causes, as he or she chooses, without personal attachment or allegiance.
verb (used without object), freelanced, freelancing.
to act or work as a freelance:
The illustrator used to be employed by us but is freelancing now.
verb (used with object), freelanced, freelancing.
to produce, sell, or accomplish as a freelance:
to freelance a magazine article.
of or relating to a freelance or the work of a freelance:
a freelance writer; freelance copyediting.
in the manner of a freelance:
She works freelance.
Origin of freelance
free + lance1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for free lance
Historical Examples
  • And yet the Christian is not an antinomian; he is not a sort of free lance, sworn to no obedience.

  • He was a free lance and no other career stood in sight or mind.

  • He became a free lance and while sometimes he ran amuck his cause was always the cause of his people.

    The War After the War Isaac Frederick Marcosson
  • The besetting temptation of the free lance is to pamper himself.

    If You Don't Write Fiction Charles Phelps Cushing
  • Gwen was not taking a part, so she was rather a free lance in that respect, and her advice was likely to be disinterested.

  • A free lance, with only her love for her child to hallow and redeem her.

    The Little Lady of Lagunitas Richard Henry Savage
  • This Mr. Courtier was a free lance—rather a well-known man, an interesting creature.

    The Patrician John Galsworthy
  • There is no place in congressional jousts for the free lance.

    Congressional Government Woodrow Wilson
  • "Just let me run this thing over," said the free lance slowly.

    The Mystery Stewart Edward White and Samuel Hopkins Adams
  • I'm what they call a free lance, for I have no regular desk on any of the journals.

    The Mystery Stewart Edward White and Samuel Hopkins Adams
British Dictionary definitions for free lance


  1. Also called freelancer. a 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
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
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Word Origin and History for free lance



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
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