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free-lance (n.)

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.

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Definitions of free-lance from WordNet
1
free-lance (adj.)
serving for wages in a foreign army;
Synonyms: mercenary / freelance
free-lance (adj.)
working for yourself;
Synonyms: freelance / self-employed
2
free-lance (n.)
a writer or artist who sells services to different employers without a long-term contract with any of them;
Synonyms: freelancer / freelance / free lance / independent / self-employed person
From wordnet.princeton.edu