Definition of free association in English:

Share this entry

free association


[mass noun]
1 Psychology The mental process by which one word or image may spontaneously suggest another without any necessary logical connection.
Example sentences
  • Before I started drafting the piece, I sat down and wrote out about two pages of free association, just listing images that fit with two of the themes of the story.
  • The exercise was a game and might be compared to free association of words.
  • In addition to that, this time I have more of an idea of what to expect in terms of the style in which the book is written, the whole stream of consciousness, free association thing.
1.1A psychoanalytic technique for investigation of the unconscious mind, in which a relaxed subject reports all passing thoughts without reservation.
Example sentences
  • As anyone who has honestly experimented with free association knows, the technique inevitably and rapidly brings to mind topics about which one is emotionally concerned.
  • Psychodynamic therapists developed techniques such as free association where patients are encouraged to say whatever comes into their minds, and the therapist interprets the associations.
  • This is achieved by the technique of free association, whereby one starts with a dream image and allows one's thoughts to associate to it in complete freedom.
2The forming of a group, political alliance, or other organization without any external restriction: the right of free association
More example sentences
  • Whether this argument is persuasive depends largely on how we evaluate two kind of claims, and in particular how much we defer to two claims made by organizations alleging free association violations.
  • A second advantage of industrial democracy was that it demanded more than free association: it called for a measure of self-determination as well.
  • Formally, Puerto Rico is a commonwealth in free association with the US.



sense 1.
Example sentences
  • After trying hypnosis and other forms of suggestion, Freud discovered that a patient could alleviate his own problems by free-associating, thereby bringing these memories to the fore.
  • He invited his patients in effect to talk to themselves, but aloud, in his presence, to be almost unaware of their words - that is, to free-associate, to speak without censorious vigilance whatever happened to cross their minds.
  • I couldn't do that now, because my brain isn't able to free-associate as wildly as it could then.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: free as¦so¦ci|ation

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.