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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for allow


acknowledge, admit, agree, concede, confess, fess (up), grant, own (up to)



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The SpyHuman site also has an apparent security flaw that allowed hackers to read a stream of SMS messages from strangers. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Security Roundup: Ukraine Blocked a Russian Hack of Its Critical Infrastructure," 14 July 2018 Bacca’s shot bounced off the goalkeeper, the fateful miss that would allow England to go on to win. Kanishk Tharoor, The Atlantic, "The Elusive Underdog Magic of the World Cup," 14 July 2018 That lease included a provision that allowed the organization to extend its lease for another two years until 2015. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "Culture Stock leaves downtown Aurora building with future site unknown," 13 July 2018 Prior to the passage of Prop 64, organizers in California could host events that allowed the sale and consumption of cannabis under Prop 215. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "Chalice Festival Sues Bureau of Cannabis Control as Weed-Centric Events Battle With Legalization," 13 July 2018 But Lanier during the trial told jurors that the agency and other laboratories and J&J have used flawed testing methods that did not allow for the proper detection of asbestos fibers. NBC News, "Johnson & Johnson told to pay $4.7 billion in baby powder case," 13 July 2018 Scottsdale voters have OK'd sales-tax increases that have allowed the city to spend nearly $1 billion to acquire massive swaths of desert land. Arizona Republic, azcentral, "Hiker alert: 3 trailheads getting upgrades in Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve," 13 July 2018 That control comes largely in the form of energy storage devices such as Powerwall, which recently added a feature that allows users to program the unit to buy power from the grid at cheaper, off-peak times. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "Burning for Tesla Powerwall? Get ready to wait as Musk's solar vision takes a backseat to Model 3," 13 July 2018 There are a limited number of VIP tickets available that allow patrons to get in one hour earlier than the general public and are good for 10 IPA sample pour tickets. Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee breweries will celebrate all things beer during Drink Brew City Week," 13 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about allow

Statistics for allow

Last Updated

2 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for allow

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on allow

What made you want to look up allow? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!