verb al·low \ə-ˈlau̇\

Definition of allow

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1a :  permit doesn't allow people to smoke in his homeb :  to fail to restrain or prevent allow the dog to roam

  3. 2a :  to assign as a share or suitable amount (as of time or money) allow an hour for lunchb :  to reckon as a deduction or an addition allow a gallon for leakage

  4. 3 :  admit, concede must allow that money causes problems in marriage

  5. 4a chiefly Southern US and Midland US :  to be of the opinion :  thinkb dialect :  say, statec :  to express an opinion —usually used with as how or that

  6. 5 chiefly Southern US and Midland US :  intend, plan

  7. intransitive verb
  8. 1 :  to make a possibility :  admit —used with of evidence that allows of only one conclusion

  9. 2 :  to give consideration to circumstances or contingencies —used with for a plan that allows for expansion

Examples of allow in a sentence

  1. a religion that does not allow divorce

  2. They don't allow smoking in this hotel.

  3. I want to change my schedule, but my boss won't allow it.

  4. My boss wouldn't allow me to change my schedule.

  5. They don't allow people to smoke in this hotel.

  6. Women were not allowed in the club.

  7. The hospital doesn't allow visitors after 8 p.m.

  8. Her schedule doesn't allow her any time to run errands.

  9. The system allows you to transfer data easily from one computer to another.

  10. Occasional gaps allow passage through the mountains.

Origin and Etymology of allow

Middle English, from Anglo-French aluer, alouer to place, apportion, allow, from Medieval French allocare — more at allocate

First Known Use: 14th century

ALLOW Defined for English Language Learners


verb al·low \ə-ˈlau̇\

Definition of allow for English Language Learners

  • : 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.

ALLOW Defined for Kids


verb al·low \ə-ˈlau̇\

Definition of allow for Students




  1. 1 :  to give permission to Mom allowed us to stay up late.

  2. 2 :  to fail to prevent Don't allow the dog to roam.

  3. 3 :  to assign as a share or suitable amount (as of time or money) Our parents allowed us each five dollars to spend.

  4. 4 :  to accept as true :  concede I'm willing to allow that he may be right.

  5. 5 :  to consider when making a decision or a calculation Our plans didn't allow for the possibility of rain.

  6. 6 :  to make it possible to have or do something Your shoes should be big enough to allow for growth.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb al·low \ə-ˈlau̇\

Legal Definition of allow

  1. :  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


\ə-ˌlau̇-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun


\ə-ˈlau̇-ə-bəl\ play adjective

Seen and Heard

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


capable of being understood in two ways

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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