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 Surely, a Mayor Yang would balk at telling financial incompetents who have spent their allowance too fast to tighten their collective belts and await the next check. Milton Ezrati, Forbes, "A New Try With UBI: As Wrongheaded As Before," 15 Apr. 2021 Aye Myat Thu used her allowance to buy a bicycle with a blue basket. New York Times, "‘She Just Fell Down. And She Died.’," 4 Apr. 2021 Aye Myat Thu used her allowance to buy a bicycle with a blue basket., "‘She just fell down. And she died.’," 4 Apr. 2021 Officers usually replace their service weapon every two to three years at a current cost of $600 to $800 each time and would expect to see their equipment allowance increase if the technology is required. Washington Examiner, "California bill would increase cost of law enforcement weapons," 24 Mar. 2021 The EU Emissions Trading System was criticized for years for having carbon allowance prices too low to make a difference, but the prices have been rising. Timothy Hamilton, The Conversation, "The EU wants a carbon tax on imports – but would it be the climate solution officials expect?," 13 Apr. 2021 Southern California shipper Over Attracted makes her first start in Northern California after several solid efforts against first-level allowance company at Santa Anita and Del Mar. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Horse racing newsletter: Remembering Prince Philip," 10 Apr. 2021 Additionally, the relief bill includes an enhanced child tax credit and allowance payment where parents can pocket up to $3,600 per child a year. Michelle Santiago Cortés,, "How A Year Of Crumbs Made For The Best Stimulus Memes Yet," 15 Mar. 2021 The venue still plans to host fans but is waiting on capacity allowance guidance from local health officials. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Delayed Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will allow 20,000 fans per day in April," 5 Mar. 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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Time Traveler for allowance

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for allowance

Last Updated

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Allowance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 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

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Comments on allowance

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