free variation: Meaning and Definition of

free' varia'tion

Pronunciation: [key]
? Ling. Ling.
  1. a relation between the members of a pair of phones, phonemes, morphs, or other linguistic entities such that either of the two may occur in the same position with no change in the meaning of the utterance: in the first syllable of ?economics,? ?e? and ??? are in free variation. Cf. complementary distribution.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.