af·​ford ə-ˈfȯrd How to pronounce afford (audio)
afforded; affording; affords

transitive verb

: to manage to bear without serious detriment
You can't afford to neglect your health.
: to be able to bear the cost of
can't afford to be out of work long
: to make available, give forth, or provide naturally or inevitably
The sun affords warmth to the earth.
a delay that will afford us more time
Choose the Right Synonym for afford

give, present, donate, bestow, confer, afford mean to convey to another as a possession.

give, the general term, is applicable to any passing over of anything by any means.

give alms
gave her a ride on a pony
give my love to your mother

present carries a note of formality and ceremony.

present an award

donate is likely to imply a publicized giving (as to charity).

donate a piano to the orphanage

bestow implies the conveying of something as a gift and may suggest condescension on the part of the giver.

bestow unwanted advice

confer implies a gracious giving (as of a favor or honor).

confer an honorary degree

afford implies a giving or bestowing usually as a natural or legitimate consequence of the character of the giver.

the trees afford shade
a development that affords us some hope

Example Sentences

We were too poor to afford a doctor. He'll be able to afford a house next year. Don't spend more than you can afford. They couldn't afford new coats for the children. We can afford waiting a while longer. All of the rooms afford views of the lake. He was afforded the opportunity to work for a judge. See More
Recent Examples on the Web If the girls wanted to compete further, Ms. Taylor told them of a local swim team whose fee started at $1,000, but none of the girls could afford it. Corey Kilgannon, New York Times, 14 Jan. 2023 Most families that could afford it had their coal delivered. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, 5 Jan. 2023 And many of them will likely be unable to afford to do so. Tori Otten, The New Republic, 28 Dec. 2022 Even the programs that could afford it had to make budget changes in order to do so. Kat Cornetta,, 21 Dec. 2022 Unable to afford surgery to remove it, the metal shard migrated to his eye, leaving him partially blind. ProPublica, 15 Dec. 2022 In the same interview, Ohtani mentioned the reality that not every team could afford him. Dylan Hernández, Los Angeles Times, 8 Dec. 2022 Students from low-income backgrounds were also disadvantaged by virtual learning models, with many unable to afford the necessary equipment to attend school digitally. Tristan Bove, Fortune, 6 Dec. 2022 Donors can gift money or frequent flyer miles to transport individuals who are legally approved to travel but unable to afford plane tickets on their own. Ashley Vaughan & Ryan Bergeron, CNN, 23 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History


respelling (after Latin borrowings with initial aff-) of Middle English iforthen, aforthen, going back to Old English geforðian "to send out, promote, carry out," from ge-, perfective prefix + forðian "to send out, promote," verbal derivative of forþ "forth, forward" — more at co-, forth entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of afford was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near afford

Cite this Entry

“Afford.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


af·​ford ə-ˈfōrd How to pronounce afford (audio)
: to be able to do or to bear without serious harm
you can't afford to waste your strength
: to be able to pay for
unable to afford a new car
: to supply one with : provide, furnish
tennis affords good exercise
-ˈfōrd-ə-bəl How to pronounce afford (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on afford

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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