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allow definition


This page has 11 definitions of allow in English. Allow is a verb. Examples of how to use allow in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .



From Middle English allowen, alowen, a borrowing from Anglo-Norman allouer, alouer, from Medieval Latin allaudāre, present active infinitive of allaudō, merged with alouer, from Medieval Latin allocō (to assign).

The similarity with Middle English alyfen (from Old English ālīefan) and German erlauben, both from Proto-Germanic *uzlaubijaną (to allow) is coincidental.



allow (third-person singular simple present allows, present participle allowing, simple past and past participle allowed)

  1. (transitive) To grant, give, admit, accord, afford, or yield; to let one have.
    to allow a servant his liberty;  to allow a free passage;  to allow one day for rest
    • 2004 [1895], Garnett, Constance, transl., “Ariadne”, in The Darling: and Other Stories, translation of original by Anton Chekhov:
      [] he needed a great deal of money, but his uncle only allowed him two thousand roubles a year, which was not enough, and for days together he would run about Moscow with his tongue out, as the saying is.
  2. (transitive) To acknowledge; to accept as true; to concede; to accede to an opinion.
    to allow a right;  to allow a claim; to allow an appeal  to allow the truth of a proposition
  3. (transitive) To grant (something) as a deduction or an addition; especially to abate or deduct.
    To allow a sum for leakage.
  4. (transitive) To grant license to; to permit; to consent to.
    To allow a son to be absent.
    Smoking allowed only in designated areas.
    • 1992, Rudolf M[athias] Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page vii:
      With fresh material, taxonomic conclusions are leavened by recognition that the material examined reflects the site it occupied; a herbarium packet gives one only a small fraction of the data desirable for sound conclusions. Herbarium material does not, indeed, allow one to extrapolate safely: what you see is what you get []
  5. To not bar or obstruct.
    Although I don't consent to their holding such meetings, I will allow them for the time being.
    • 2013 July 26, Leo Hickman, “How algorithms rule the world”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 7, page 26:
      The use of algorithms in policing is one example of their increasing influence on our lives. And, as their ubiquity spreads, so too does the debate around whether we should allow ourselves to become so reliant on them – and who, if anyone, is policing their use.
  6. (transitive) To take into account by making an allowance.
    When calculating a budget for a construction project, always allow for contingencies.
  7. (transitive) To render physically possible.
    • 1824, Irving, Washington, “The Devil and Tom Walker”, in Tales of a Traveller:
      The inlet allowed a facility to bring the money in a boat secretly and at night to the very foot of the hill.
    • 2013 June 1, “Ideas coming down the track”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8838, page 13 (Technology Quarterly):
      A “moving platform” scheme [] is more technologically ambitious than maglev trains even though it relies on conventional rails. Local trains would use side-by-side rails to roll alongside intercity trains and allow passengers to switch trains by stepping through docking bays.
  8. (transitive, obsolete) To praise; to approve of; hence, to sanction.
  9. (obsolete) To sanction; to invest; to entrust.
    • 1623, William Shakespeare, The Life of Timon of Athens:
      Therefore so please thee to return with us,
      And of our Athens—thine and ours—to take
      The captainship, thou shalt be met with thanks,
      Allow'd with absolute power, and thy good name
      Live with authority. So soon we shall drive back
      Of Alcibiades the approaches wild,
      Who, like a boar too savage, doth root up
      His country's peace.
  10. (transitive, obsolete) To like; to be suited or pleased with.
  11. (law, transitive) To decide (a request) in favour of the party who raised it; to grant victory to a party regarding (a request).
    To allow an objection, to find in favour of the objection and forbid the conduct objected to; to allow an appeal, to decide the appeal in favour of the appellant (contrast grant leave to appeal, to permit an appeal to be heard).


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