freckle (n.) Look up freckle at
late 14c., also frecken, probably from Old Norse freknur (plural) "freckles" (source also of Icelandic frekna, Danish fregne, Swedish frägne "freckle"), from PIE *(s)preg- (2) "to jerk, scatter" (see sprout (v.)). Related: Freckles.
freckle (v.) Look up freckle at
"to cover with spots," 1610s, from freckle (n.). Related: Freckled (from late 14c. as "spotted"); freckling.
Freddie Mac Look up Freddie Mac at
by 1992, vaguely from Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.
Frederick Look up Frederick at
masc. proper name, from French Frédéric, from German Friedrich, from Old High German Fridurih, from Proto-Germanic *frithu-rik, literally "peace-rule," from *rik- "rule" (see Reich) + *frithu- "peace" (source also of Old English friðu "peace, truce"), from suffixed form of PIE root *pri- "to be friendly, to love" (see free (adj.)); related to the first half of Friday and the second half of afraid, also the second element in Siegfried, Godfrey, Geoffrey. Not a common name in medieval England, found mostly in the eastern counties.
free (adj.) Look up free at
Old English freo "free, exempt from, not in bondage, acting of one's own will," also "noble; joyful," from Proto-Germanic *frija- "beloved; not in bondage" (source also of Old Frisian fri, Old Saxon vri, Old High German vri, German frei, Dutch vrij, Gothic freis "free"), from PIE *priy-a- "dear, beloved," from root *pri- "to love" (source also of Sanskrit priyah "own, dear, beloved," priyate "loves;" Old Church Slavonic prijati "to help," prijatelji "friend;" Welsh rhydd "free").

The primary Germanic sense seems to have been "beloved, friend, to love;" which in some languages (notably Germanic and Celtic) developed also a sense of "free," perhaps from the terms "beloved" or "friend" being applied to the free members of one's clan (as opposed to slaves; compare Latin liberi, meaning both "free persons" and "children of a family"). For the older sense in Germanic, compare Gothic frijon "to love;" Old English freod "affection, friendship, peace," friga "love," friðu "peace;" Old Norse friðr "peace, personal security; love, friendship," German Friede "peace;" Old English freo "wife;" Old Norse Frigg "wife of Odin," literally "beloved" or "loving;" Middle Low German vrien "to take to wife," Dutch vrijen, German freien "to woo."

Meaning "clear of obstruction" is from mid-13c.; sense of "unrestrained in movement" is from c. 1300; of animals, "loose, at liberty, wild," late 14c. Meaning "liberal, not parsimonious" is from c. 1300. Sense of "characterized by liberty of action or expression" is from 1630s; of art, etc., "not holding strictly to rule or form," from 1813. Of nations, "not subject to foreign rule or to despotism," recorded in English from late 14c. (Free world "non-communist nations" attested from 1950 on notion of "based on principles of civil liberty.") Sense of "given without cost" is 1580s, from notion of "free of cost."

Free lunch, originally offered in bars to draw in customers, by 1850, American English. Free pass on railways, etc., attested by 1850. Free speech in Britain was used of a privilege in Parliament since the time of Henry VIII. In U.S., in reference to a civil right to expression, it became a prominent phrase in the debates over the Gag Rule (1836). Free enterprise recorded from 1832; free trade is from 1823; free market from 1630s. Free will is from early 13c. Free school is from late 15c. Free association in psychology is from 1899. Free love "sexual liberation" attested from 1822 (the doctrine itself is much older), American English. Free and easy "unrestrained" is from 1690s.
free (v.) Look up free at
Old English freogan "to free, liberate, manumit," also "to love, think of lovingly, honor;" also "to rid (of something)," from freo "not in bondage" (see free (adj.)). The forking sense in the Germanic adjective is reflected in the verbs that grew from it in the daughter languages. Compare Old Frisian fria "to make free;" Old Saxon friohan "to court, woo;" German befreien "to free," freien "to woo;" Old Norse frja "to love;" Gothic frijon "to love." Related: Freed; freeing.
free verse (n.) Look up free verse at
1869; Englishing of vers libre.
free-born (adj.) Look up free-born at
"inheriting liberty," mid-14c., from free (adj.) + born. Old English had freolic (adj.) "free, free-born; glorious, magnificent, noble; beautiful, charming," which became Middle English freli, "a stock epithet of compliment," but which died out, perhaps as the form merged with that of freely (adv.).
free-fall (n.) Look up free-fall at
also freefall, 1919, originally of parachutists and in rocketry, from free (adj.) + fall (v.). Related: Free-falling (1962).
free-for-all (n.) Look up free-for-all at
"mass brawl" (one in which all may participate), 1918, from earlier adjective use (1868), especially in reference to open horse races, American English. Earlier as a noun in reference to free-for-all horse and motorcar races.
free-hand (adv.) Look up free-hand at
of drawing, "done without guiding instruments such as engineer's curves," 1848; see free (adj.) + hand (n.).
free-handed (adj.) Look up free-handed at
"generous, liberal," 1650s, from free (adj.) + -handed.
free-lance (n.) Look up free-lance at
also freelance, "medieval mercenary warrior," 1820 ("Ivanhoe"), from free (adj.) + lance (n.); apparently a coinage of Sir Walter Scott's. The description of them resembles that of the Italian condottieri. Figurative sense is from 1864; specifically of journalism by 1882.
free-liver (n.) Look up free-liver at
"one who indulges the appetites," 1711, from free (adj.) + liver (n.2). Related: Free-living.
free-range (adj.) Look up free-range at
1960, from free range (n.) "open space available for free movement" (especially of domestic animals), 1821; see free (adj.) + range (n.). As a noun from 1912.
free-soil (adj.) Look up free-soil at
in U.S. history, "opposed to expansion of slavery into the territories," 1846, from free soil (n.) in reference to settled regions without slavery, from free (adj.) + soil (n.). Related: Free-soiler.
free-spirited (adj.) Look up free-spirited at
also freespirited, 1670s, from free (adj.) + -spirited.
free-spoken (adj.) Look up free-spoken at
"accustomed to speaking without reserve," 1620s, from free (adj.) + -spoken.
free-standing (adj.) Look up free-standing at
1841, from free (adj.) + standing (adj.).
free-thinker (n.) Look up free-thinker at
"one not guided in belief by authority; one who submits the claims of authority to what he deems the test of reason," 1690s, from free (adj.) + think (v.) + agent noun suffix -er (1). Free-thought "rationalism" is from 1711. Related: Free-thinking.
free-wheeling (adj.) Look up free-wheeling at
also freewheeling, 1903, from free wheel (1899, see free (adj.) + wheel (n.)); a bicycle wheel that turns even when not being pedaled, later from the name of a kind of automobile drive system that allowed cars to coast without being slowed by the engine. Figurative sense is from 1911.
freebase Look up freebase at
1980 (noun and verb), in reference to cocaine. As a chemical process, it returns a salt form of an alkaloid to its pure form. Related: Freebased; freebasing.
freebie Look up freebie at
also freeby, 1942 (adj.) "for nothing, without charge;" 1946 (n.) "something given for free;" perhaps as early as 1900; formed "Arbitrarily" [OED] from free (adj.). Compare newbie, rudesby.
freebooter (n.) Look up freebooter at
1560s, loan-translation of Dutch vrijbuiter "plunderer, robber," from vrijbuiten "to rob, plunder," from vrijbuit "plunder," literally "free booty," from vrij "free" (see free (adj.)) + buit "booty," from buiten "to exchange or plunder," from Middle Dutch buten, related to Middle Low German bute "exchange" (see booty).

The English word, Danish fribytter, Swedish fribytare, and German Freibeuter were formed on the model of the Dutch word, which is the source of filibuster (q.v.). The back-formed verb freeboot is recorded from 1590s. Related: Freebooting; freebootery.
freedman (n.) Look up freedman at
"manumitted slave," c. 1600, from past participle of free (adj.) + man (n.). Especially in U.S. history. The older word is freeman. Freedman's Bureau (1865) was the popular name of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, established by Congress March 3, 1865, and discontinued in 1872.
freedom (n.) Look up freedom at
Old English freodom "power of self-determination, state of free will; emancipation from slavery, deliverance;" see free (adj.) + -dom. Meaning "exemption from arbitrary or despotic control, civil liberty" is from late 14c. Meaning "possession of particular privileges" is from 1570s. Similar formation in Old Frisian fridom, Dutch vrijdom, Middle Low German vridom. 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 fighter attested by 1903 (originally with reference to Cuba). Freedom-loving (adj.) is from 1841.
freehold (n.) Look up freehold at
"landed estate in possession of a freeman," late 15c., later generalized to any outright ownership of land, a translation of Anglo-French fraunc tenement; see free (adj.) + hold (n.1).
freeholder (n.) Look up freeholder at
"one who owns land outright," early 15c.; see freehold.
freelance (v.) Look up freelance at
1902, from freelance (n.). Related: Freelancer (1898); freelanced; freelancing.
freeloader (n.) Look up freeloader at
also free-loader, by 1939, from free (adj.) + agent noun from load (v.). Related: Freeloading. As a verb, freeload is attested by 1967 and probably is a back-formation from this.
freely (adv.) Look up freely at
Middle English frely, from Old English freolice "of one's own accord, readily;" see free (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "unstintedly; plentifully" is from c. 1300; that of "without constraint, under free conditions" is from 1590s. Similar formation in Middle Low German vrilike, Dutch vrijelijk "freely," German freilich "to be sure."
freeman (n.) Look up freeman at
Old English freoman "free-born man;" see free (adj.) + man (n.). Similar formation in Old Frisian frimon, Dutch vrijman, Old High German friman.
freemason (n.) Look up freemason at
late 14c., originally a traveling guild of masons with a secret code; in the early 17c. they began accepting honorary members and teaching them the secrets and lore, which was continued into or revived in the 17th century and by 1717 had developed into the secret fraternity of affiliated lodges known as Free and Accepted Masons (commonly abbreviated F. and A. M.). The accepted refers to persons admitted to the society but not belonging to the craft.

The exact origin of the free- is a subject of dispute. Some [such as Klein] see a corruption of French frère "brother," from frèremaçon "brother mason;" others say it was because the masons worked on "free-standing" stones; still others see them as "free" from the control of local guilds or lords [OED]. Related: freemasonic.
freemasonry (n.) Look up freemasonry at
mid-15c., from freemason + -ry.
freeness (n.) Look up freeness at
mid-15c., from free (adj.) + -ness.
freer (adj.) Look up freer at
comparative of free (adj.). See -er (2).
freer (n.) Look up freer at
"one who sets free," c. 1600, from free + -er (1). An Old English word for this was freogend.
freestyle (n.) Look up freestyle at
also free-style, 1912, in swimming, in reference to a distance race in which the swimmers may use whatever stroke they choose; 1950 in general use, from free + style. The most common stroke is the front crawl, as this is generally the fastest. As an adjective, from 1957; as a verb, by 1970 (in martial arts).
freeway (n.) Look up freeway at
1930, from free (adj.) + way (n.).
freeze (v.) Look up freeze at
alteration of freese, friese, from Middle English fresen, from Old English freosan (intransitive) "turn to ice" (class II strong verb; past tense freas, past participle froren), from Proto-Germanic *freusan "to freeze" (source also of Dutch vriezen, Old Norse frjosa, Old High German friosan, German frieren "to freeze," and related to Gothic frius "frost"), from Proto-Germanic *freus-, equivalent to PIE root *preus- "to freeze," also "to burn" (source also of Sanskrit prusva, Latin pruina "hoarfrost," Welsh rhew "frost," Sanskrit prustah "burnt," Albanian prus "burning coals," Latin pruna "a live coal").

Of weather, "be cold enough to freeze," 13c. Meaning "perish from cold" is c. 1300. Transitive sense "harden into ice, congeal as if by frost" first recorded late 14c.; figurative sense late 14c., "make hard or unfeeling." Intransitive meaning "become rigid or motionless" attested by 1720. Sense of "fix at a certain level" is from 1933; of assets, "make non-transactable," from 1922. Freeze frame is from 1960, originally "a briefly Frozen Shot after the Jingle to allow ample time for Change over at the end of a T.V. 'Commercial.' " ["ABC of Film & TV," 1960].
freeze (n.) Look up freeze at
"freezing conditions," c. 1400, from freeze (v.).
freeze-dried (adj.) Look up freeze-dried at
1946, from freeze (v.) + past participle of dry (v.).
freezer (n.) Look up freezer at
1847 as the name of a type of large tin can used in ice-cream manufacture; from freeze (v.) + -er (1). As a household appliance, from 1945. Freezer burn attested from 1929.
freight (n.) Look up freight at
early 15c. "transporting of goods and passengers by water," variant of fraght, which is from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German vracht, vrecht (see fraught). Danish fragt, Swedish frakt apparently also are from Dutch or Frisian. Also from Low German are Portuguese frete, Spanish flete, and French fret, which might have changed the vowel in this variant of the English word. Meaning "cargo of a ship" is from c. 1500. Freight-train is from 1841.
freight (v.) Look up freight at
"to load (a ship) with goods or merchandise for shipment," mid-15c. variant of Middle English fraught (v.) "to load (a ship)," c. 1400; see fraught, and compare freight (n.). Figuratively, "to carry or transport," 1530s. Related: Freighted; freighting.
freightage (n.) Look up freightage at
1690s, "money paid for transporting," a hybrid word, from freight (n.) + -age. From 1803 as "freight, cargo." The older word was fraughtage (late 14c.).
freighter (n.) Look up freighter at
1620s, "one who loads (a ship)," agent noun from freight (v.). Meaning "a cargo vessel" is from 1839, American English.
fremd (adj.) Look up fremd at
Northern English and Scottish survival of Middle English fremed "foreign; remote; unfamiliar; not related; unheard-of; unfriendly, distant and formal;" as a noun, "a stranger," from Old English fremde (Northumbrian fremþe); cognate with Old Saxon fremithi, Old Frisian fremed, Dutch vreemd, Old High German framidi, German fremd, Gothic framaþs "strange, foreign."
French (adj.) Look up French at
c. 1200, frensh, frenche, "pertaining to France or the French," from Old English frencisc "French," originally "of the Franks," from franca, the people name (see Frank). A similar contraction of -ish is in Dutch, Scotch, Welsh, suggesting the habit applies to the names of only the intimate neighbors.

In some provincial forms of English it could mean simply "foreign." Used in many combination-words, often dealing with food or sex: French dressing (by 1860); French toast (1630s); French letter "condom" (c. 1856, perhaps on resemblance of sheepskin and parchment), french (v.) "perform oral sex on," and French kiss (1923) all probably stem from the Anglo-Saxon equation of Gallic culture and sexual sophistication, a sense first recorded 1749 in the phrase French novel. (In late 19c.-early 20c., a French kiss was a kiss on each cheek.) French-Canadian is from 1774; french doors is by 1847. To take French leave, "depart without telling the host," is 1771, from a social custom then prevalent. However, this is said to be called in France filer à l'anglaise, literally "to take English leave."
french (v.) Look up french at
"perform oral sex on," c. 1917, from French (adj.), reflecting Anglo-Saxon equation of Gallic culture and sexual sophistication. Related: Frenched; frenching.