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I would like to understand the sense of the word "sturmfrei" as in sturmfreie Bude. Does it mean literally free-of-storm, or is the sense more freedom-to-storm.

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Superficial answer: sturmfreie Bude is multi-word expression with fixed meaning, see DWDS.

But looking at sturmfrei on its own, it seems to have a military background like can't be stormed/conquered - with the image of same awful parents storming into the room, that seems a reasonable explanation too.

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Literally sturmfrei means free of storm(s). The word was used historically meaning cannot be stormed (by troups), as the Verb "stürmen" (which is a derivative of the noun "Sturm") means also to assault.

In later times it was used in the fixed phrase "sturmfreie Bude", which ("Bude" is "shack", a slightly derogative word for "apartment") first was a students home without the danger of creditors (also: other sources of "assault" or molestation) coming. Later this meaning was transcended to places not endangered by parents coming home (who could, in case of a party taking place there, also become quite a source of molestation).

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