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[free-duh m] /ˈfri dəm/
the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint:
He won his freedom after a retrial.
exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
the power to determine action without restraint.
political or national independence.
personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery:
a slave who bought his freedom.
exemption from the presence of anything specified (usually followed by from):
freedom from fear.
the absence of or release from ties, obligations, etc.
ease or facility of movement or action:
to enjoy the freedom of living in the country.
frankness of manner or speech.
general exemption or immunity:
freedom from taxation.
the absence of ceremony or reserve.
a liberty taken.
a particular immunity or privilege enjoyed, as by a city or corporation:
freedom to levy taxes.
civil liberty, as opposed to subjection to an arbitrary or despotic government.
the right to enjoy all the privileges or special rights of citizenship, membership, etc., in a community or the like.
the right to frequent, enjoy, or use at will:
to have the freedom of a friend's library.
Philosophy. the power to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from within or without; autonomy; self-determination.
Compare necessity (def 7).
before 900; Middle English fredom, Old English frēodōm. See free, -dom
Related forms
nonfreedom, noun
overfreedom, noun
unfreedom, noun
1. Freedom, independence, liberty refer to an absence of undue restrictions and an opportunity to exercise one's rights and powers. Freedom emphasizes the opportunity given for the exercise of one's rights, powers, desires, or the like: freedom of speech or conscience; freedom of movement. Independence implies not only lack of restrictions but also the ability to stand alone, unsustained by anything else: Independence of thought promotes invention and discovery. Liberty, though most often interchanged with freedom, is also used to imply undue exercise of freedom: He took liberties with the text. 9. openness, ingenuousness. 12. license. 16. run. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for freedom
  • The second, no less surely, is to maintain his own freedom of spirit.
  • We have been obliged to arm ourselves to make good our claim to a certain minimum of right and of freedom of action.
  • For blacks, racing provided a false sense of freedom.
  • It captures the nation's contradictions: the couple has yet to experience the freedom the motorcycle represents.
  • Economic freedom leads to peace, and governments are using mythical climate change to try to steal more of our freedom.
  • They symbolize much that has been lost to progress wide-open spaces, self-sufficiency and a sense of unabridged freedom.
  • The author contends that it was a victory for academic freedom.
  • You've become an outspoken advocate for intellectual freedom.
  • Each one has potentially grave implications for free expression and academic freedom, and thus merits closer scrutiny.
  • The doctrine of academic freedom is much abused these days.
British Dictionary definitions for freedom


personal liberty, as from slavery, bondage, serfdom, etc
liberation or deliverance, as from confinement or bondage
the quality or state of being free, esp to enjoy political and civil liberties
(usually foll by from) the state of being without something unpleasant or bad; exemption or immunity: freedom from taxation
the right or privilege of unrestricted use or access: the freedom of a city
autonomy, self-government, or independence
the power or liberty to order one's own actions
(philosophy) the quality, esp of the will or the individual, of not being totally constrained; able to choose between alternative actions in identical circumstances
ease or frankness of manner; candour: she talked with complete freedom
excessive familiarity of manner; boldness
ease and grace, as of movement; lack of effort
Word Origin
Old English frēodōm
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 freedom

Old English freodom "freedom, state of free will; charter, emancipation, deliverance;" see free (adj.) + -dom. Freedom-rider recorded 1961, in reference to civil rights activists in U.S. trying to integrate bus lines.

It has been said by some physicians, that life is a forced state. The same may be said of freedom. It requires efforts, it presupposes mental and moral qualities of a high order to be generally diffused in the society where it exists. [John C. Calhoun, speech, U.S. House of Representatives, Jan. 31, 1816]

Freedom Rider Situation Cuts Into Montgomery Juke, Game Revenues [headline, "Billboard," July 24, 1961]
Freedom fighter attested by 1903 (originally with reference to Cuba).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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freedom in the Bible

The law of Moses pointed out the cases in which the servants of the Hebrews were to receive their freedom (Ex. 21:2-4, 7, 8; Lev. 25:39-42, 47-55; Deut. 15:12-18). Under the Roman law the "freeman" (ingenuus) was one born free; the "freedman" (libertinus) was a manumitted slave, and had not equal rights with the freeman (Acts 22:28; comp. Acts 16:37-39; 21:39; 22:25; 25:11, 12).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Article for freedom

free will

in humans, the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. Free will is denied by those who espouse any of various forms of determinism. Arguments for free will are based on the subjective experience of freedom, on sentiments of guilt, on revealed religion, and on the universal supposition of responsibility for personal actions that underlies the concepts of law, reward, punishment, and incentive. In theology, the existence of free will must be reconciled with God's omniscience and goodness (in allowing man to choose badly), and with divine grace, which allegedly is necessary for any meritorious act. A prominent feature of modern Existentialism is the concept of a radical, perpetual, and frequently agonizing freedom of choice. Jean-Paul Sartre, for example, speaks of the individual "condemned to be free" even though his situation may be wholly determined.

Learn more about free will with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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