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Said of a capability of a programming language or hardware equipment that is available by its design without needing cleverness to implement: "In APL, we get the matrix operations for free." "And owing to the way revisions are stored in this system, you get revision trees for free." The term usually refers to a serendipitous feature of doing things a certain way (compare big win), but it may refer to an intentional but secondary feature.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)