fur·​lough | \ ˈfər-(ˌ)lō How to pronounce furlough (audio) \

Definition of furlough

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a leave of absence granted to a governmental or institutional employee (such as a soldier or civil servant) The Army began furloughs in September as so-called 'sanity checks' for soldiers whose tour has stretched to nearly a year.— Jenny Deam also : a document authorizing such a leave of absence
2 : a temporary leave from work that is not paid and is often for a set period of time One possible way to avoid layoffs is through furloughs—making workers take an unpaid leave of absence …— Paul B. Brown
3 : a set period of time when a prisoner is allowed to leave a prison Those probation officers are then able to monitor criminals serving their sentences in work camps or on furlough rather than in jail as a way of relieving overcrowding.— Richard Willing


furloughed; furloughing; furloughs

Definition of furlough (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to grant a leave of absence or furlough to (someone) a soldier being furloughed a furloughed prisoner
2 : to put (a worker) on furlough : to lay off (a worker) for usually a brief or temporary period … other airlines are placing pressure on the unionized pilots to take large salary cuts—at least those pilots who haven't already been "furloughed" (the word pilots use instead of the more plebeian "laid off").— George Hopkins Although no one could supply exact figures, sources in Washington, D.C., said nearly 500,000 federal workers were furloughed for all or part of Thursday. In the Los Angeles-Long Beach area about 11,000 of the 40,000 federal workers were sent home because of the operating fund impasse in Congress.— Jerry Belcher

Synonyms for furlough

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of furlough in a Sentence

Noun Each employee will have a one-day furlough every month. the landscaping company usually has to put most of its personnel on furlough during the extremely slow winter months Verb The company will consider furloughing a small number of workers.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Hyatt contended its March furlough was not a termination since the employment relationship continued. Dan Eaton, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Mar. 2022 Baquer Namazi, who suffers from a heart condition and other health issues, was released on temporary medical furlough in 2018. Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2022 Maybe The Flash will reckon with all these complexities, or send him off into the multiverse for a decades-long furlough. Darren Franich, EW.com, 4 Mar. 2022 Red Sox third baseman Fred Thomas, who was on a brief furlough from the Navy, immediately snapped to attention and saluted. Fay Vincent, WSJ, 19 Jan. 2022 That funding has already expired once, which resulted in a brief furlough of 3,700 Transportation Department employees. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 25 Oct. 2021 The podcast was quietly recorded over a podcasting app, with Wright in Singapore and Francis under house arrest at an undisclosed location in San Diego, where he has been allowed to remain out of custody on medical furlough to treat cancer. San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Dec. 2021 That funding has already expired once, which resulted in a brief furlough of 3,700 Transportation Department employees. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 25 Oct. 2021 That funding has already expired once, which resulted in a brief furlough of 3,700 Transportation Department employees. BostonGlobe.com, 24 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Leaders at South Boston Community Health Center made the decision not to furlough their staff in 2020, even as other clinics and hospitals temporarily laid off thousands. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 3 Mar. 2022 Women there left the workforce at a lower rate than men during the pandemic, according to The Wall Street Journal,due in part to policies that paid workers to furlough, which helped mothers keep their jobs while home-schooling kids. Tamar Hallerman, ajc, 25 Mar. 2022 As the industry tottered in 2020, the city saw its general fund drop from $659 million to $583 million, forcing the city to furlough employees and cut contracts. Xander Peters, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Mar. 2022 Hiring pilots is a stark change from just a few months ago when American Airlines was threatening to furlough more workers without additional government payroll support, including 1,850 pilots. Dallas News, 20 Apr. 2021 While essential functions would continue, a shutdown would furlough hundreds of thousands of federal employees. Dylan Wells, USA TODAY, 9 Feb. 2022 Rob Wildeboer may have to decide as soon as Thursday whether the Canadian trucker protest that is blocking a key bridge between the United States and Canada will require him to furlough some of his several thousand factory workers. Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2022 Amid a trying stretch for the industry after the pandemic canceled the 2020 minor-league season, Gartner and the Iowa Cubs did not furlough or lay off any of their full-time employees during the lost year. Meghan Montemurro, chicagotribune.com, 6 Jan. 2022 Covid-19 continues to kill thousands of Americans every day, and a shutdown would furlough thousands of federal workers, including those at health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Courtney Vinopal, Quartz, 28 Sep. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'furlough.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of furlough


1631, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1781, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for furlough

Noun and Verb

Dutch verlof, literally, permission, from Middle Dutch, from ver- for- + lof permission; akin to Middle High German loube permission — more at for-, leave

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Time Traveler for furlough

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The first known use of furlough was in 1631

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Last Updated

3 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Furlough.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/furlough. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for furlough


fur·​lough | \ ˈfər-lō How to pronounce furlough (audio) \

Kids Definition of furlough

: a leave of absence from duty

More from Merriam-Webster on furlough

Nglish: Translation of furlough for Spanish Speakers


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