al·​low | \ə-ˈlau̇ \
allowed; allowing; allows

Definition of allow 

transitive verb

1a : permit doesn't allow people to smoke in his home

b : to fail to restrain or prevent allow the dog to roam

2a : to assign as a share or suitable amount (as of time or money) allow an hour for lunch

b : to reckon as a deduction or an addition allow a gallon for leakage

3 : admit, concede must allow that money causes problems in marriage

4a chiefly Southern US and Midland US : to be of the opinion : think

b dialect : say, state

c : to express an opinion usually used with as how or that

5 chiefly Southern US and Midland US : intend, plan

intransitive verb

1 : to make a possibility : admit used with of evidence that allows of only one conclusion

2 : to give consideration to circumstances or contingencies used with for a plan that allows for expansion

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Synonyms & Antonyms for allow


green-light, have, permit, suffer


ban, enjoin, forbid, prohibit, proscribe, veto

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Examples of allow in a Sentence

a religion that does not allow divorce They don't allow smoking in this hotel. I want to change my schedule, but my boss won't allow it. My boss wouldn't allow me to change my schedule. They don't allow people to smoke in this hotel. Women were not allowed in the club. The hospital doesn't allow visitors after 8 p.m. Her schedule doesn't allow her any time to run errands. The system allows you to transfer data easily from one computer to another. Occasional gaps allow passage through the mountains.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Bands of young men have seized on the weekend protests and riots as a means of distracting police, allowing them to maraud at night, smashing through shop windows and looting everything from iPhones to pharmaceuticals. Stacy Meichtry, WSJ, "Protests Threaten Macron’s Campaign to Remake France," 9 Dec. 2018 So in theory, an aging power plant could get some upgrades that would extend its operating life but would also allow it to be held to the weaker greenhouse gas limit. Umair Irfan, Vox, "The EPA plans to lift greenhouse gas limits on coal power plants," 6 Dec. 2018 Those restrictions will be lifted for customers who use Waymo One, allowing them to take pictures and videos and to share the information on social media. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Waymo One, the groundbreaking self-driving taxi service, explained," 5 Dec. 2018 Their terms in office overlapped, allowing them to work together and, eventually, to form a long-lasting bond. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Why Brian Mulroney, Former Canadian Prime Minister, Will Speak at George H.W. Bush's Funeral," 4 Dec. 2018 The architects built the house into the landscape’s gentle slope, which allowed them to play with perspective. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Blocky concrete home hides an airy second level," 8 Nov. 2018 Something that could have given health organizations a heads-up, allowing them to organize an effective response, contain the disease’s spread, save tens of thousands of lives and prevent an international crisis? Mallory Locklear, Discover Magazine, "With Big Data and Predictive Analytics, Scientists Are Getting Smarter About Outbreaks," 8 Nov. 2018 This allows her to have a clear head when all the drama goes down later in the night. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Crazy Secrets We Learned About the "Riverdale" Parents on “The Midnight Club” Episode," 8 Nov. 2018 The Chefman triple slow cooker on Amazon has three separate crocks, allowing you to consolidate your cooking into one handy gizmo that does all of the work for you. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "This Triple Slow Cooker Is Here to Save Your Holidays—And It's Only $40 on Amazon," 6 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'allow.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of allow

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for allow

Middle English, from Anglo-French aluer, alouer to place, apportion, allow, from Middle French allocare — more at allocate

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Statistics for allow

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for allow

The first known use of allow was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for allow



English Language Learners Definition of allow

: to permit (something) : to regard or treat (something) as acceptable

: to permit (someone) to have or do something

: to permit (someone) to go or come in, out, etc.


al·​low | \ə-ˈlau̇ \
allowed; allowing

Kids Definition of allow

1 : to give permission to Mom allowed us to stay up late.

2 : to fail to prevent Don't allow the dog to roam.

3 : to assign as a share or suitable amount (as of time or money) Our parents allowed us each five dollars to spend.

4 : to accept as true : concede I'm willing to allow that he may be right.

5 : to consider when making a decision or a calculation Our plans didn't allow for the possibility of rain.

6 : to make it possible to have or do something Your shoes should be big enough to allow for growth.

al·​low | \ə-ˈlau̇ \

Legal Definition of allow 

: to give approval of or permission for: as

a : to grant fulfillment of allowed her petition for relief

b : to decide in favor of allow a deduction on a tax return

c : to permit to be presented allows his claim more jurisdictions will allow the cause of action

Other Words from allow

allowability \ə-​ˌlau̇-​ə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
allowable \ə-​ˈlau̇-​ə-​bəl \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on allow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with allow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for allow

Spanish Central: Translation of allow

Nglish: Translation of allow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of allow for Arabic Speakers

Comments on allow

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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