n. — a type of military adventurer, typically a knight, who offered services for payment; a mercenary
— a politician with no party affiliation
— the figurative weapon wielded by investigative journalists
— a person who works on particular assignments for a fixed term, as opposed to long-term employment (later written as freelancer)
…among other meanings
fm. English compounds, free + lance, the knightly spearing weapon. The irony—a freelance ain’t free—is mitigated by “free” meaning, in this sense, unbeholden or not in service to
first published. 1819, coined by Sir Walter Scott in his romantic masterpiece Ivanhoe:
I? — I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them — I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment.