lee·​way ˈlē-ˌwā How to pronounce leeway (audio)
: an allowable margin of freedom or variation : tolerance
The new rules allow managers greater leeway in making decisions.
: off-course lateral movement of a ship when underway
The sailboat's centerboard helps to reduce leeway.
: the angle between the heading and the track of an airplane

Examples of leeway in a Sentence

They give their students leeway to try new things. you will be given some leeway in choosing how to carry out the project
Recent Examples on the Web An appealing presence with mostly TV credits under her belt, Sidhu gives Jassi some sense of stubbornly dreamy fight, though newcomer Sood finds less expressive leeway in the script. Guy Lodge, Variety, 16 Oct. 2023 Performers in streaming is a still broad category, and one that gives SAG officials significant leeway in handing out cash. Rebecca Keegan, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Nov. 2023 As the Financial Times notes in its report, the current, century-old rules don’t give countries enough leeway to tax companies operating on their turf without a physical presence. Bydavid Meyer, Fortune, 12 Oct. 2023 But prosecutors rarely appeal sentences because judges have great leeway to fashion sentences after a 2005 Supreme Court decision called Booker v U.S., which made sentencing guidelines advisory rather than mandatory. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, 8 Sep. 2023 The amendment to federal hazardous waste handling law allows for leeway in disposing of some categories of waste, like mining contaminants. Michelle Deininger, The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 Aug. 2023 The law has prompted districts that once gave teachers some leeway over cellphone use in their classrooms to introduce stricter rules. Natasha Singer, New York Times, 31 Oct. 2023 The two men spoke on the phone Wednesday afternoon, according to the White House. GOP Rep. Scott Perry, a conservative member from Pennsylvania, said Tuesday that members will likely give Johnson some leeway on government spending bills. Stefan Becket, CBS News, 25 Oct. 2023 Hulu has leeway to test commercials that rivals like Amazon and Netflix do not. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 23 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'leeway.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1669, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of leeway was in 1669

Dictionary Entries Near leeway

Cite this Entry

“Leeway.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leeway. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


lee·​way ˈlē-ˌwā How to pronounce leeway (audio)
: sideways movement of a ship when under way
: an extra amount (as of room or time) that allows some freedom or variation

More from Merriam-Webster on leeway

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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