I get confused when I read this sentence: "An increasingly efficient agricultural industry freed British workers for factory employment." Does the phrase "free...for..." exist? Does it mean "workers don't have to work in factories" or "workers are freed so that they can work in factories" here? I wonder how native English speakers interpret this sentence. Somebody please help me with this!

  • The improved efficiency of agriculture "liberated" workers from having to work in the fields. They were now (thenceforth) 'free' to work, instead, in factories.
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 6, 2018 at 15:19
  • In your cited context, to free [something] [up] means to release [from some existing role or duty] in order to make something available for another another purpose. Often more or less equivalent to repurpose. Commented Oct 6, 2018 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


To make available for other purposes.

“The advance of robotic assembly lines freed men to be able to do less menial work.”

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