free fall

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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

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 ?
Using multiple zip lines totalling over 10km of rope suspended across Dubai Marina, the jumpers will free-fall in a vertical position.
The skydivers hurtle through the air at speeds of more than 100 mph, and they have about 70 seconds to complete the free-fall formations before they must deploy their parachutes.
Norsafe GES52 (Gravity Escape System) is the second model in a series of three newly developed free-fall lifeboats, all meeting the new DNV-OS-E406 regulations that take effect from 2015.
Descending from the skies at 12,500 feet, traveling nearly 120 miles per hour, free-fall parachuting is the closest humans have ever come to actually flying.
Mike Coleman is helped by firemen irom a roof in Lyndon Road, Solihull, where he landed after missing the target in a free-fall Jump.
The civic leader will be following in the footsteps of late Mick Terrans, a chairman in 1992 who made a free-fall jump from more than 10,000 feet shortly before his 82nd birthday in aid of Alzheimer's disease.
A first instinct would be to rush to the library in hopes of finding a book that could be checked out and read along the lines of "A Practical Guide to Free-Fall Experiments" (Fig.
Mr Gill had the choice of jumping from 2,000 feet on his own or in tandem from 14,000 feet with a 40 second free-fall.
Today, the Navy has its own free-fall school, Strategic Air Operations (SAO), which allows more Sea, Air, Land (SEALs) and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) to free-fall qualify than ever before.
The region's traditionally favorable image of the United States is in free-fall, polls show.
Applied Biosystems Group (NYSE: ABI) saw its stock price free-fall 68.
She really gets their attention when she climbs up the 12-foot rope and then rappels down at almost a free-fall rate.
Despite uncertainty after the free-fall of NASDAQ in the second half of the year, business continued, but with diminished vigor.
The seven guidelines are: 1) Pallet free-fall test drop; 2) Maximum allowable load for plastic pallets in static storage rack applications; 3) Static floor stack and fork tine deflections for plastic pallets; 4) Stacked dynamic load capacity of thermoplastic and thermoset containers; 5) Container free-fall drop test; 6) Testing requirements and acceptance criteria for thermoplastic and thermoset pallet containers; and 7) Column yield strength of thermoplastic and thermoset containers.
Private Angus McKay, of 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales Regiment, competed in the free-fall challenge which attracted more than 20 teams, some travelling from as far as Germany, to Netheravon in Wiltshire.