from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A political entity whose political status is less than that of a fully sovereign nation-state, as with the former Congo Free State and the former Irish Free State.
- n. A Federal state, with allegiance to a larger entity, as currently with Germany, and earlier, the relationship between the states of the Holy Roman Empire and the Emperor, and later, the states of the German Empire under the Hohenzollerns.
- n. An independent or autonomous political entity whose formal status and relationship to other states is undefined.
- n. An approximate synonym for republic or commonwealth, as with the former Orange Free State, and especially as used for the current United Kingdom to refer to the Commonwealth period under Cromwell.
- n. A condition of not being supported or constrained by outside forces.
Probably a calque from German Freistaat (Wiktionary)