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

In a worst-case scenario, the court could remove him or her from membership, but the denomination’s rulebook also makes allowances for lesser punishments. Jack Jenkins And Emily Mcfarlan Miller, USA TODAY, "600 United Methodists file complaint against Sessions for child abuse, discrimination," 19 June 2018 Making due allowance for the possibility that Loyola-Chicago could do what three previous No. Chris Johnson,, "Making the Case For Each Final Four Team to Win the Title," 30 Mar. 2018 A month later, Wuhan unveiled a plan to attract and retain 1 million college graduates within five years through living allowances and rent subsidies. Dominique Fong, WSJ, "A Tug of War for Elite Skills Is Raging Across China," 27 Oct. 2018 The council will meet in regular session at 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the 2018-19 financial plan and financial forecast; discuss changing the swim center fees, and adjusting the council’s pay and the mayor’s auto allowance. Laura Groch,, "On the agenda, June 17," 17 June 2018 The conversation view, the archive button, and huge storage allowances are now expected features in any email service. Klint Finley, WIRED, "Gmail Is Getting a Long-Overdue Upgrade," 25 Apr. 2018 Including the office’s state salary and vehicle allowance, the superintendent's current pay is $150,002. Gary Gibula, Naperville Sun, "No pay raises for DuPage County Board members but countywide elected officials to get 2% hike," 24 Apr. 2018 The nurses went on strike last Monday to press home demands for improved allowances and irregular salary grading system, its union said. Columbus S. Mavhunga, CNN, "Fired Zimbabwe striking nurses resume work," 23 Apr. 2018 His perks include $12,000 a year toward an annuity, a $500 a month car allowance and a $1,500 yearly technology stipend, along with the usual health benefits. Diana Lambert, sacbee, "Sacramento school superintendent salaries soar, some higher than university leaders | The Sacramento Bee," 16 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

2 Dec 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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to enclose within walls

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