af·​ford ə-ˈfȯrd How to pronounce afford (audio)
afforded; affording; affords

transitive verb

: to manage to bear without serious detriment
You can't afford to neglect your health.
: to be able to bear the cost of
can't afford to be out of work long
: to make available, give forth, or provide naturally or inevitably
The sun affords warmth to the earth.
a delay that will afford us more time
Choose the Right Synonym for afford

give, present, donate, bestow, confer, afford mean to convey to another as a possession.

give, the general term, is applicable to any passing over of anything by any means.

give alms
gave her a ride on a pony
give my love to your mother

present carries a note of formality and ceremony.

present an award

donate is likely to imply a publicized giving (as to charity).

donate a piano to the orphanage

bestow implies the conveying of something as a gift and may suggest condescension on the part of the giver.

bestow unwanted advice

confer implies a gracious giving (as of a favor or honor).

confer an honorary degree

afford implies a giving or bestowing usually as a natural or legitimate consequence of the character of the giver.

the trees afford shade
a development that affords us some hope

Examples of afford in a Sentence

We were too poor to afford a doctor. He'll be able to afford a house next year. Don't spend more than you can afford. They couldn't afford new coats for the children. We can afford waiting a while longer. All of the rooms afford views of the lake. He was afforded the opportunity to work for a judge.
Recent Examples on the Web The economy is growing, and while most Southern California households can’t afford to buy, there’s a sizable population of techies, Hollywood types and other white-collar workers who can funnel excess cash into large down payments that offset high mortgage rates. Andrew Khouri, Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2024 But consumers cannot afford to ignore how the cost of borrowing on a credit card keeps going up, either. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 15 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for afford 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'afford.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


respelling (after Latin borrowings with initial aff-) of Middle English iforthen, aforthen, going back to Old English geforðian "to send out, promote, carry out," from ge-, perfective prefix + forðian "to send out, promote," verbal derivative of forþ "forth, forward" — more at com-, forth entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of afford was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near afford

Cite this Entry

“Afford.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


af·​ford ə-ˈfōrd How to pronounce afford (audio)
: to be able to do or to bear without serious harm
you can't afford to waste your strength
: to be able to pay for
unable to afford a new car
: to supply one with : provide, furnish
tennis affords good exercise
-ˈfōrd-ə-bəl How to pronounce afford (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on afford

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