We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.
Finance

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What Is Gratis?

By Maggie Worth
Updated: May 17, 2024
References

"Gratis" is a term that refers to something that is free. Specifically, it usually refers to goods and services that are provided at no cost to the recipient. The word has its origins in Latin, but came into common usage in England in the 1400s. The term is virtually interchangeable with the terms "complimentary" and "free of charge."

Examples of items that are commonly provided gratis might include free valet parking at a restaurant or theater, beverages on an airline flight and Internet access at a hotel. Promotional items that are given away would also fall into this category. Businesses often provide free-of-charge items as an incentive to customers to buy other products and services.

The word is actually a contraction of the Latin word gratiis, which is variously translated as "favor," "with graces" or "as a kindness." The word can be pronounced either as "grat-is" or "grey-tis." In either case, the accent is placed on the first syllable.

This particular word may be used as either an adjective or an adverb. When used as an adjective, it would describe a noun. For example, a valet might explain that his services are gratis. In this case, "gratis" describes the word "services."

When used as an adverb, the term would describe a verb. For example, the valet might say that his services are provided gratis. In this case, "gratis" describes the verb, "provided." In English, both forms of the word are spelled the same, and no alternate forms are used.

It is important to note that "gratis" is associated only with the definition of the English word "free" that means a lack of charge or obligation in return for a provided good or service. In English, "free" can also mean unrestricted, such as in the phrase "this is a free country." Used in this way, the English word "free" correlates to the Latin libre.

Unlike many other adjectives and adverbs, the word "gratis" rarely precedes the word it modifies in a sentence. For example, a business might advertise "free Wi-Fi," but would be unlikely to advertise "gratis Wi-Fi." The formal feel and sound of the word makes it more likely to be used in high-end retail situations or in the context of business-to-business transactions.

Other words and phrases are more commonly used in normal business-to-consumer transactions. These might include "free," "free of charge," "complimentary" or "at no cost." Legal services provided without charge, on the other hand, are referred to as "pro bono."

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
Share
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.