Printable Version
Pronunciation: free-læns Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: About someone who is not an employee of any organization but works for any of them alone.

Notes: This adjective is usually used in reference to writers—authors and reporters, but it may be used to refer to any profession, occupation or business. We may write it with or without a hyphen, which is to say, freelance or free-lance. The personal noun may be used with a suffix, a freelancer, or without one, a freelance.

In Play: We may also use this word as an adjective, adverb, verb or noun: "Rhoda Book is a freelance author, who works freelance for anyone with enough money." In other words, she freelances for anyone with the wherewithal. In fact, Rhoda is a freelance (or freelancer) who will do pretty much anything for money.

Word History: Chris Stewart, who noticed the oddity of today's Good Word and recommended it, wondered how a compound comprising free + lance could end up referring to a reporter who works neither for free nor with a lance. In fact, this word started out as a phrase, free lance, referring to an independent horse soldier, free of any servitude, armed with a lance. Once it became a compound word, its sense turned into "a man-at-arms with his attendant foot-soldiers, archers, etc." Little by little this sense was expanded to refer to any independent person with all the tools needed to pursue his or her profession.

Dr. Goodword,

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