al·​low·​ance | \ ə-ˈlau̇-ən(t)s How to pronounce allowance (audio) \

Definition of allowance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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.
b : a fixed or available amount provide an allowance of time for recreation
c : a share or portion allotted or granted
d : a reduction from a list price or stated price a trade-in allowance
2 : 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.
3 : the act of allowing something : permission
4 : an allowed dimensional difference between mating parts of a machine
5 : an imposed handicap (as in a horse race)


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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Synonyms for allowance

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of allowance in a Sentence

Noun 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 And then there's the couple’s youngest, daughter Jenna, an artist and the most rebellious of the children, in constant danger of having her allowance taken away. Mary Cadden, USA TODAY, 27 July 2021 Olszewski, who played both football and baseball at Bemidji State University in Minnesota, allotted $5.99 for a Big Mac and fries from McDonald’s and then used the rest of his allowance to purchase Harvick’s jacket at a truck stop., 18 July 2021 Although the Pride’s defense made major strides from its 53-goal allowance in 2019, Riley said the team’s next step is to heighten its defensive pressure to in turn create more offensive opportunities. Julia Poe,, 27 June 2021 Meanwhile, Spears said her weekly allowance was $2,000. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 24 June 2021 If in doubt, call the airline to confirm your baggage allowance based on your fare class and destination. Eric Rosen, Travel + Leisure, 19 June 2021 Your customer service center can use AI to predict that John will be interested in increasing his monthly data allowance to solve that problem. Riaz Raihan, Forbes, 16 June 2021 The firms lease the properties to military families in exchange for their basic housing allowance. Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express-News, 16 June 2021 The candy egg lady keeps her Dream allowance in envelopes. Courtney Lanning, Arkansas Online, 21 May 2021

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 1c


1758, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for allowance


Middle English allowaunce, allouance "commendation, confirmation (of a privilege), allocation of funds," borrowed from Anglo-French alouance, allowance "admission as legally valid, allocation, payment," from aluer, aloer "to place, allot, accept as legally valid" + -ance -ance — more at allow


derivative of allowance entry 1

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Learn More About allowance

Time Traveler for allowance

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near allowance



allowance account

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Statistics for allowance

Last Updated

2 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Allowance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2021.

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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
chiefly US : 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 How to pronounce allowance (audio) \

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 How to pronounce allowance (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on allowance

Nglish: Translation of allowance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of allowance for Arabic Speakers


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