From free + lance. Coined by Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) in Ivanhoe (1820) to describe a medieval mercenary warrior or "free-lance" (indicating that the lance is not sworn to any lord's services). It changed to a figurative noun around the 1860s and was recognized as a verb in 1903 by authorities such as the Oxford English Dictionary. In modern times the term has morphed into an adjective, a verb, and an adverb, as well as the derivative noun freelancer.
freelance (plural freelances)
- Someone who sells their services to employers without a long-term contract.
- (historical) A medieval mercenary.
- (medieval mercenary): see Thesaurus:mercenary
- Of, or relating to a freelance; without contract.
- He was a freelance writer for several magazines.
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