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.
go into free fall
To experience a 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 free fall after the housing market collapsed. After getting busted by the police last year, John's life has gone into 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]
go into freefallJOURNALISM
COMMON If the value or level of something goes into freefall, it starts to fall very quickly. A massive £8bn was wiped off values, and the pound went into freefall. Fears are now widespread that shares could go into freefall before Christmas. Note: You can also say that the value or level of something is in freefall. Perot's ratings were in freefall, his election campaign a disaster. Note: You can also say that the value or level of something freefalls. His career seemed about to freefall into oblivion. Note: In parachuting, freefall is the part of the jump before the parachute opens.
See also: freefall
be in/go into ˌfree ˈfallbe falling/start to fall rapidly: Share prices are in free fall in Tokyo this morning. ♢ The value of the euro against the dollar went into free fall as soon as the news was announced.
From the moment you jump out of a plane until the moment your parachute opens, you are in free fall.