al·low·ance | \ə-ˈlau̇-ən(t)s \

Definition of allowance 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a share or portion allotted or granted

b : a sum granted as a reimbursement or bounty or for expenses a salary that includes a cost-of-living allowance especially : a sum regularly provided for personal or household expenses Each child receives a weekly allowance.

c : a fixed or available amount provide an allowance of time for recreation

d : a reduction from a list price or stated price a trade-in allowance

2 : an imposed handicap (as in a horse race)

3 : an allowed dimensional difference between mating parts of a machine

4 : the act of allowing something : permission

5 : the act of regarding bad behavior or a mistake as less serious or bad because of some special circumstance Some allowance should be made for her inexperience. The plan makes no allowance for bad weather.


allowanced; allowancing

Definition of allowance (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 archaic : to put on a fixed allowance (as of food and drink)

2 archaic : to supply in a fixed or regular quantity

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Examples of allowance in a Sentence


a monthly allowance for household expenses Each of their children gets a weekly allowance of five dollars. the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C the tax allowance for married couples They performed poorly, but allowances should be made for their inexperience.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The final costs of those allowances often make budgets soar near the end of construction, due to unexpected changes. Anthony Alofsin, The Atlantic, "A Defense of the Suburbs," 6 June 2018 The DuPage County sheriff’s current salary is $168,100, plus a $6,500 state stipend and a $5,400 vehicle allowance. Gary Gibula, Naperville Sun, "No pay raises for DuPage County Board members but countywide elected officials to get 2% hike," 24 Apr. 2018 There was no telling if the government would continue the allowance for future launch programs. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Rocket Man Who Wants To Beat the Billionaires," 14 Oct. 2015 In an emergency, there are no special allowances for gender or ethnicity: Everyone had to pull their own weight. Bonnie J. Dunbar, Scientific American, "Sally Ride’s Legacy Lives On," 18 June 2018 In an emergency, there are no special allowances for gender or ethnicity: Everyone had to pull their own weight. Bonnie J. Dunbar, Smithsonian, "An Astronaut Reflects on Sally Ride’s Legacy for Women in STEM," 18 June 2018 The parks director has been receiving the car allowance and deferred compensation in those amounts since 2015. Erin Hegarty, Naperville Sun, "Naperville park director's pay is $50K more than Fox Valley, others," 2 Feb. 2018 Per pupil public and charter school allowances will range from $7,871 to $8,409. Alice Yin, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's new education budget could mean looming school closures," 30 June 2018 However, this allowance can often be increased above $123,600 upon application, sometimes substantially., "The myth and reality of the Medi-Cal 'spend-down'," 24 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'allowance.' 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 allowance


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


1758, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for allowance


see allow


see allow

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Statistics for allowance

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for allowance

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

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More Definitions for allowance



English Language Learners Definition of allowance

: an amount of money that is given to someone regularly or for a specific purpose

: a small amount of money that is regularly given to children by their parents

: an amount of something (such as time) that is allowed or available


al·low·ance | \ə-ˈlau̇-əns \

Kids Definition of allowance

1 : an amount of money given regularly for a specific purpose He earns his weekly allowance.

2 : a share given out an allowance of time

3 : the act of considering things that could affect a result


al·low·ance | \ə-ˈlau̇-əns \

Legal Definition of allowance 

1 : an allotted share: as

a : a sum granted as a reimbursement or payment for expenses an allowance to support the deceased's family deduction for a moving allowance

b : a sum granted as a reduction or increase an allowance for depreciation

2 : an act of allowing allowance of a deduction

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Comments on allowance

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a state of commotion or excitement

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