AskDefine | Define gratuitous

Dictionary Definition

gratuitous adj
1 without cause; "a gratuitous insult"
2 costing nothing; "complimentary tickets" [syn: complimentary, costless, free, gratis(p)]
3 unnecessary and unwarranted; "a strikers' tent camp...was burned with needless loss of life" [syn: needless, uncalled-for]

User Contributed Dictionary





  • a UK /gɹəˈtjʊ.ɪt.ʌs/, /gr@"tjU.It.Vs/


  1. Given freely; unearned.
  2. Without reason; unjustified.


Extensive Definition

Gratis versus Libre is the distinction between 'zero price' (gratis) and 'freedom' (libre). Gratis appears in many English dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary. However, libre usually does not at present, and no English adjective signifies freedom only. This distinction is often important in dealing with laws concerning the use of information, such as copyright and patents. The terms are often used in the free software and open source communities, as well as the broader free culture movement, to categorize computer programs according to the licenses and legal restrictions that cover them. Both this expression and the term gratis are used to distinguish freeware (gratis software) from free software.


Gratis is the plural ablative form of the first declension noun "grātia" in Latin and used as an adjective in various Romance and Germanic languages (such as Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish) meaning "for nothing," in the sense that one does not have to pay for some good or service (free of charge), even though the good or service has value.
This is sometimes expressed in the phrase, "free as in free beer", as distinct from "free as in free speech".


Libre is a word in various Romance languages, such as Spanish and French (descended from the Latin word līber), that denotes the state of being free, as in "having freedom". Members of the free software community often talk about free as in free speech (libre) and free as in free beer (gratis, gratuit), as the word free in English does not distinguish between these meanings. "Free software" usually means the former.

External links and references

gratuitous in Danish: Gratis contra libre
gratuitous in German: Kostenlos
gratuitous in French: Gratuité (économie)
gratuitous in Galician: Gratis
gratuitous in Indonesian: Gratis
gratuitous in Malay (macrolanguage): Percuma
gratuitous in Dutch: Gratis
gratuitous in Japanese: 無料
gratuitous in Kölsch: För ömmesönß
gratuitous in Swedish: Gratis

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

God-given, accorded, aimless, allowed, amorphous, arbitrary, autonomous, baseless, bestowed, biggety, bluff, bottomless, brash, capricious, casual, charitable, cheeky, chutzpadik, cocky, complimentary, contemptuous, costless, crusty, de trop, derisive, desultory, disarticulated, discontinuous, discretional, discretionary, disjunct, disordered, dispensable, dispersed, disproportionate, disrespectful, elective, eleemosynary, erratic, excess, expendable, expenseless, expletive, facy, fitful, flip, flippant, for free, for love, for nothing, formless, free, free as air, free for nothing, free gratis, free of charge, free of cost, free will, freebie, fresh, frivolous, gally, giftlike, given, granted, gratis, groundless, haphazard, hit-or-miss, immethodical, impertinent, impudent, in excess, inchoate, incoherent, indefensible, independent, indiscriminate, irrational, irregular, malapert, meaningless, misshapen, needless, nervy, nonessential, nonmandatory, nonsymmetrical, nonsystematic, nonuniform, offered, on the house, optional, orderless, pert, planless, pleonastic, proffered, prolix, promiscuous, providential, random, reasonless, redundant, rude, sassy, saucy, self-acting, self-active, self-determined, self-determining, senseless, shapeless, smart, smart-alecky, smart-ass, spare, spasmodic, spontaneous, sporadic, straggling, straggly, supererogatory, superfluous, systemless, tautologic, tautologous, to spare, unarranged, unasked, unbesought, unbidden, unbought, uncalled-for, unclassified, uncoerced, uncompelled, undirected, unessential, unforced, unfounded, ungraded, ungrounded, uninfluenced, uninvited, unjoined, unjustifiable, unjustified, unlooked-for, unmethodical, unnecessary, unneeded, unordered, unorganized, unpaid-for, unpressured, unprompted, unrequested, unrequired, unsolicited, unsorted, unsought, unsupportable, unsymmetrical, unsystematic, untaxed, ununiform, unwarranted, unwelcome, vague, verbose, voluntary, volunteer, vouchsafed, wandering, wanton, willful, willing, wise-ass, without charge
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