9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[free-fer-awl] /ˈfri fərˌɔl/
a fight, argument, contest, etc., open to everyone and usually without rules.
any competition or contested situation that is disordered, impulsive, or out of control:
a free-for-all at the buffet table.
Informal. any enterprise or field of endeavor in which various companies, countries, participants, etc., compete without restriction:
a price-cutting free-for-all among local stores.
open to everyone.
Origin of free-for-all
1880-85, Americanism
1. brawl, fracas, scrap, melee, donnybrook. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for free-for-all
  • Relax, he told angry students at the time, an anonymous free-for-all will be self-policing.
  • The library project is now embroiled in a ferocious legal free-for-all spanning the globe.
  • There is a thin line, it seems, between the freedom that spurs creativity and a free-for-all.
  • Yet what it comes up with is unlikely to be a free-for-all.
  • The rocket design business is a technical free-for-all.
  • Putting the money into ring-fenced funds should prevent a free-for-all among politicians and the corruption that could ensue.
  • The government has pulled back from a full-scale free-for-all.
  • The result has been a news free-for-all, a jumble of sometimes confirmed but often contradictory reports.
  • Some intelligence officials opposed the move, fearing a free-for-all of amateur speculation and intrigue.
British Dictionary definitions for free-for-all


(informal) a disorganized brawl or argument, usually involving all those present
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-for-all

"mass brawl" (one in which all may participate), 1881.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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