Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb, \ˈlet\

Definition of let

lettedletted or letletting


  1. transitive verb
  2. :  hinder, prevent

Origin of let

Middle English letten, from Old English lettan to delay, hinder; akin to Old High German lezzen to delay, hurt, Old English lǣt late

First Known Use: before 12th century

Rhymes with let




Simple Definition of let

  • tennis : a serve that is not accepted or allowed officially and must be done again

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of let

  1. 1 :  something that impedes :  obstruction <ruled his little world without hindrance or let — B. F. Reilly>

  2. 2 :  a shot or point in racket games that does not count and must be replayed

Examples of let in a sentence

  1. The first serve was a let.

  2. <a private resort that allows vacationers to experience without let the joys of nudism>

12th Century

First Known Use of let

12th century




Definition of let


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to cause to :  make <let me know>

  3. 2 a chiefly British :  to offer or grant for rent or lease <let rooms> b :  to assign especially after bids <let a contract>

  4. 3 a :  to give opportunity to or fail to prevent <live and let live> <a break in the clouds let us see the summit> <let the opportunity slip> b —used in the imperative to introduce a request or proposal <let us pray> c —used as an auxiliary to express a warning <let him try>

  5. 4 :  to free from or as if from confinement <let out a scream> <let blood>

  6. 5 :  to permit to enter, pass, or leave <let them through> <let them off with a warning>

  7. 6 :  to make an adjustment to <let out the waist>

  8. intransitive verb
  9. 1 chiefly British :  to become rented or leased

  10. 2 :  to become awarded to a contractor

let alone
  1. :  to leave undisturbed <let the flowers alone>; also :  to leave to oneself <wanted to be let alone>

let fly
  1. 1 :  to hurl an object

  2. 2 :  to give unrestrained expression to an emotion or utterance <let fly with some sharp rebukes — Janice Castro>

let go
  1. 1 :  to dismiss from employment <the firm let him go at the end of the month>

  2. 2 :  to abandon self-restraint :  let fly <spoke in clipped sentences, as if fearful of letting go — David Kline> <there just to party, just to let go — Philippe Vergne>

  3. 3 :  to relax or release one's hold —used with of <let go of stress — Kathy McCoy> <let go of my arm>

  4. 4 :  to fail to take care of :  neglect <let himself go and got real fat — Bill Parcells>

let it all hang out
  1. :  to reveal one's true feelings :  act without dissimulation

let one have it
  1. :  to subject to vigorous assault

let one's hair down
  1. :  to act without pretense or self-restraint

let rip
  1. 1 :  to utter or release without restraint <let 'er rip>

  2. 2 :  to do or utter something without restraint <let rip at the press>

let the cat out of the bag
  1. :  to give away a secret

Origin of let

Middle English leten, from Old English lǣtan; akin to Old High German lāzzan to permit, and perhaps to Lithuanian lėnas tranquil

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of let

hire, let, lease, rent, charter mean to engage or grant for use at a price. hire and let, strictly speaking, are complementary terms, hire implying the act of engaging or taking for use and let the granting of use <we hired a car for the summer> <decided to let the cottage to a young couple>. lease strictly implies a letting under the terms of a contract but is often applied to hiring on a lease <the diplomat leased an apartment for a year>. rent stresses the payment of money for the full use of property and may imply either hiring or letting <instead of buying a house, they decided to rent> <will not rent to families with children>. charter applies to the hiring or letting of a vehicle usually for exclusive use <charter a bus to go to the game>.


noun suffix

Simple Definition of -let

  • : small one

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of -let

  1. 1 :  small one <booklet>

  2. 2 :  article worn on <wristlet>

Origin of -let

Middle English, from Middle French -elet, from -el, diminutive suffix (from Latin -ellus) + -et

LET Defined for Kids


verb \ˈlet\

Definition of let for Students


  1. 1 :  to allow or permit to <Let them go.>

  2. 2 :  to allow to go or pass <Let me through.>

  3. 3 :  to cause to :  make <Let it be known that I'm not going to confess.>

  4. 4 :  2rent 2 <rooms to let>

  5. 5 —used as a warning <Just let him try to do it again!>

let alone
  1. :  to leave undisturbed

let down
  1. :  disappoint <Don't let me down.>

let go
  1. 1 :  to relax or release a grip <Please let go of my arm.>

  2. 2 :  to dismiss from employment

  3. 3 :  to fail to take care of <They let the garden go.>

let on
  1. :  to admit or reveal <… Sam Fraunces never let on that he knew any of them. — Judith Berry Griffin, Phoebe the Spy>

let up
  1. 1 :  to slow down

  2. 2 :  1stop 4, cease <The rain has finally let up.>


noun suffix \lət\

Definition of -let for Students

  1. 1 :  small one <booklet>

  2. 2 :  something worn on <anklet>

Law Dictionary



Legal Definition of let


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to offer or grant for rent, lease, or hire :  lease <may not be alienated, let, or encumbered> <corporeal things may be let out>

  3. 2 :  to assign especially after bids <were attempting to let a contract without going through the bidding process — Union Springs Tel. Co. v. Rowell, 623 So. 2d 732 (1993)>

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to become rented, leased, or hired

  6. 2 :  to become awarded to a contractor

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up let? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of perception or understanding

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

reduce perplex soothe disapprove
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.