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[free-hweel, -weel] /ˈfriˈʰwil, -ˈwil/
a device in the transmission of a motor vehicle that automatically disengages the drive shaft whenever it begins to turn more rapidly than the engine.
a form of rear bicycle wheel that has a device freeing it from the driving mechanism, as when the pedals are stopped in coasting.
verb (used without object)
(of a vehicle or its operator) to coast with the wheels disengaged from the driving mechanism.
to move or function freely, independently, unconcernedly, or the like (often followed by about, through, around, etc.):
The two friends freewheeled around the country after graduation.
Origin of freewheel
1895-1900; free + wheel Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for freewheel
  • He also choses to ride a freewheel bike, which means that with a mallet in his hand he only has one brake.
  • The clutch is electronically actuated by a button on on the bars and switches between fixed and freewheel drives.
  • The user should set the gears into a freewheel mode and should push it up the ramp and into the vehicle.
  • freewheel release levers are well protected and easy to access.
  • Soon after, the rear freewheel was developed, enabling the rider to coast.
British Dictionary definitions for freewheel


a ratchet device in the rear hub of a bicycle wheel that permits the wheel to rotate freely while the pedals are stationary
a device in the transmission of some vehicles that automatically disengages the drive shaft when it rotates more rapidly than the engine shaft, so that the drive shaft can turn freely
(intransitive) to coast in a vehicle or on a bicycle using the freewheel
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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