free fall

1. A vertical descent of a physical body in which gravity is the only force acting upon it. If they were in true free fall, a feather and a bowling ball would both fall to the ground at the same rate.
2. In a parachute jump, the period of vertical descent leading up to and immediately before the parachute is opened. I get such a rush from the free fall when I skydive that I often wish I didn't have to open my chute at all!
3. By extension of def. 1, any sudden, rapid, and uncontrollable decline (e.g., in value, reputation, success, etc.) that continues unabated for an indefinite length of time. The stock market went into a free fall after the housing market collapsed. After getting busted by the police for using marijuana last year, John's life has been in a free fall.
See also: fall, free

go into freefall

1. If prices or the value of something go into freefall, they lose value very quickly. Problems with TV deals have sent football finances into freefall.
2. If someone's career, life, or ability goes into freefall, it gets bad and out of control very quickly. When he was diagnosed with cancer, his life went into freefall.
See also: freefall

free fall

A rapid, uncontrolled decline, as in The markets threatened to go into free fall and we came close to outright panic. This term transfers the aeronautical meaning of a free fall, that is, "a fall through the air without any impedance, such as a parachute," to other kinds of precipitous drop. [Second half of 1900s]
See also: fall, free
References in periodicals archive ?
A RETIRED Coventry school teacher has raised thousands of pounds in a 14,000ft freefall tandem parachute jump.
Dyani is a world record holder for performing a freefall on a skateboard into a 30.
TO help celebrate their 20th birthday, St Kentigern Hospice is looking for 20 brave individuals to leap out of an aeroplane in a 10,000 feet freefall skydive.
A design that features a transparent flowing sculpture of stainless steel inspired by the cochlear implant was announced as the winner of the Freefall Experience design ideas competition today by Minister for the Environment, Simon Corbell.
In order to work, the system needs a sensor or sensor array that can detect when a device is in freefall and how it is positioned relative to the ground, Apple Insider reports.
Summary: Alex Brenner attempts the world's shortest freefall on The Conan Show.
DAREDEVIL Felix Baumgartner yesterday revealed his supersonic freefall to Earth was not all plain sailing - in fact it was a real squeaky Baum time.
His astonishing feat saw him freefall for four minutes and 22 seconds from a height of more than 24 miles above Roswell in New Mexico.
24) jumping from the stratosphere, which when certified will make him the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall and set several other records* while delivering valuable data for future space exploration.
Three world records were broken in the feat: the highest manned balloon flight; first human to pass the speed of sound in freefall (reaching Mach 1.
Austria: Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner celebrated his unprecedented feat Monday after becoming the first man to break the sound barrier in a record-shattering, death-defying freefall jump from the edge of space.
Qatar will join the rest of the world today in eager anticipation when the record-breaking skydiver Felix Baumgartner undertakes a mission to the edge of space for a freefall jump from 120,000ft or 36,576m, aiming for supersonic speed.
TEXAS (CyHAN)- In October of 2012, Felix Baumgartner will attempt a record-breaking freefall jump from 120,000 feet - 23 miles - above the earth as part of Red Bull Stratos: a mission to the edge of space.
REVEREND Clive Doran, the vicar of St George's in Huyton, is taking on a 150ft freefall abseil down Liverpool Cathedral to raise money to replace copper panels stolen from his church roof.
Military began building vertical wind tunnels for freefall training in 1964.