The Meaning of FREE

Posted inThe Daily Heller
Thumbnail for The Meaning of FREE

What is your favorite word? (I know it’s a silly question.) Could it be “FREE”? What do you feel when you see the word? Something for nothing? A gift? Crap that no one wants?

In the early part of the 20th century, giving away something was the strategy used for selling other things. The idea of a loss-leader derives from this concept of FREE. There are variations on the theme, like ridiculously low prices (which gives the taker the sense of purchase, rather than being a freeloader). There are also things sold “on approval” (FREE for a limited period).

These advertisements reveal just how frequent FREE was and, if you think about it, still is. But as the anagram and saying goes: TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch). Everything has a hidden cost that in one way or another is passed on to the consumer. And that is the real meaning of FREE.


THE 2016 PRINT REGIONAL DESIGN ANNUALBoost your work. Get discovered. Get the recognition you deserve. Get in the PRINT Regional Design Annual: The competition that stands apart and defines the design industry. Enter the 2016 RDA today for a chance to be featured among the country’s best design work in Print magazine! Deadline: April 1. Judges: Jessica Walsh, Timothy Goodman, Marc English, Bill Grant, Gail Anderson, Jennifer Morla.