Definition of freewheel in English:



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  • 1Ride a bicycle with the pedals at rest, especially downhill.

    ‘the postman came freewheeling down the track’
    • ‘We swept through the town of Grindelwald and freewheeled along the bank of the Lutschine river.’
    • ‘As I freewheeled and carefully negotiated the ruts, I enjoyed views of Wetwang, partially hidden in trees, and surrounded by all that cultivated land Sir Tatton was describing.’
    • ‘We rode through a stream, enjoyed a few final bursts of speed and skidding switchbacks and freewheeled into the shanty town of Yolosa.’
    • ‘An aubergine haze hung over the valley as we freewheeled towards the fortified hill town of Monteriggioni.’
    • ‘So I pretty much freewheeled around the circuit until another group caught us from behind, which included the other 3 kiwis.’
    • ‘As the bike freewheeled to a standstill he frantically tried to decide what to do.’
    • ‘The island measures three miles by two miles and it is possible to hire a bicycle to freewheel through the glorious vegetation and marvel at the strange granite rock formations.’
    • ‘It was sheer physical pleasure, freewheeling or skimming along with minimum effort through meadows, orchards, vineyards, woods and tiny towns with squares and window boxes.’
    • ‘I was freewheeling down towards Bannow Bay in glorious sunshine, the roads deserted, the warm, pine-scented breeze in my hair and the sound of chirruping insects in the hedgerows’
    • ‘One day in an attempt to test myself I reversed the direction I rode around the house, which involved freewheeling through a minor dip in the section.’
    • ‘Teenagers freewheel on cycles, their feet in the air.’
    • ‘Paul seems to think we're going to freewheel down it.’
    • ‘I do so twice before I reach the summit, but I still feel triumphant as I freewheel down to the hostel on the other side.’
    • ‘It was like peddling your guts out to get up a hill, only to freewheel down the other side.’
    • ‘My fastest-ever speed was 75 mph, freewheeling down a hill in the Pyrenees.’
    • ‘I'd freewheeled down the hill, trees flashing past, the late summer sunlight flickering above my head.’
    • ‘It freewheeled down the hill and collided with the car in which Mrs Reilly and her daughter were travelling.’
    • ‘I didn't have to pedal at all, I just freewheeled and freewheeled, all the time picking up more and more speed.’
    • ‘Then we freewheeled down a long steep descent, right down to the bottom of the valley and across the bridge at Ghulmet.’
    • ‘Then we freewheeled down countless switchbacks to Sangdu, nestled in the corner of a wide earthy valley dotted with ponies, pigs and yaks.’
    coast, cruise, drift, glide, sail, skim, float
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Allow a motor vehicle to travel without the engine running or in neutral gear.
      ‘she was convinced that she saved a lot of petrol money by turning the engine off and freewheeling down the hill’
      • ‘In an automatic you virtually freewheel to a halt so the brakes have to stop the car all by themselves.’
      • ‘The Yamaha also has an engine brake, but it had a tendency to freewheel down hills a bit.’
      • ‘The equipment, which enables trains to freewheel, was fitted onto 51 185 locomotives run by the company.’
      • ‘Emma helped avert disaster when she prevented the 33-seater bus freewheeling down Shap Road.’
      • ‘The driver alleged that the vehicle suffered brake failure, but police suspected that he lost control while free-wheeling down the steep incline.’
  • 2Act or proceed in a relaxed or casual way, without making much effort.

    ‘I'm not the sort of person who would freewheel his way to the end of a contract’
    ‘another manager might have been willing to freewheel through one final season’
    • ‘Waterford freewheeled during the remainder of the game, with Power giving some of his subs a run out.’
    • ‘The spark had gone and, with the flow of the game interrupted by substitutions, the home side freewheeled through a disappointing second period.’
    • ‘From there to the end Milltown could afford to freewheel a little bit, with points from O'Shea and Dowling merely for statistical purposes.’
    • ‘He used to freewheel with Goldie Hawn and it was all too easy.’
    • ‘If I'm a radio talk show host, whatever I do, I can freewheel, because then I'm only answering for myself.’
    • ‘The film allows the director ample space for his visual imagination to freewheel with dazzling spontaneity and inventiveness.’
    • ‘The band freewheel to the end of the track with a spot of easy-on-down chilling.’
    • ‘With the Dons heading for a bottom-six finish, Anderson insists there's no way they can freewheel to the summer.’
    • ‘There are suggestions his players wanted more licence to freewheel - in short throw the ball about, be expressive.’
    • ‘But they sagged and allowed the Kings to freewheel their way to the other two goals that put the game out of reach.’


  • 1

    (also free wheel)
    A bicycle wheel which is able to revolve freely when no power is being applied to the pedals.

    • ‘Both the Combi and Classic have the clutch wheel mounted in front and the free wheel in the rear.’
    • ‘Track bikes have no breaks, only one gear and there is no free wheel, which means there is no coasting.’
    • ‘It had wooden rims and no free wheel, but I thought it was a wonderful possession.’
    • ‘Most cycle mechanics do not overhaul freewheels, it is usually much easier just to replace them.’
    • ‘What are the pros and cons of such freewheels and how available are they?’
    1. 1.1A device in a motor vehicle transmission allowing the drive shaft to spin faster than the engine.
      • ‘He showed us how surprisingly easy it is to open the freewheel and service the bearings or pawls, although I doubt the sealed mechanism requires much maintenance.’
      • ‘You will have to build another rim onto that hub so that you can twist the hub hard enough to unscrew the freewheel.’
      • ‘I've been doing my own work for 20 years, but I can't figure out how to get any lube into the freewheel, much less how to actually open it up.’
      • ‘If it is too tight and you can get the freewheel off, you can loosen it much more easily by just using the cone wrenches.’
      • ‘There are also current models of freewheels that do not have an adequate design for removal.’