free, white, and twenty-one

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English[edit]

Adjective[edit]

free, white, and twenty-one (not comparable)

  1. (US, archaic, used by and usually of white people) Beholden to no one; master of one's own destiny. (The variant "free, white and eighteen" is also common, perhaps more since the 26th Amendment.)
    • 1856, Marion Harland, Alone[1], J.C. Derby, page 359:
      Free, white, and twenty-one!” sang Emma, cheerily.
    • 1932, Helen Vinson, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang:
      "There are no musts in my life - I'm free, white, and twenty-one."
    • 1934, Ruby Keeler (Barbara Hemingway), Dames[2]:
      "I'm free, white, and twenty-one. I love to dance and I'm going to dance."