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  1. Military. a vacation or leave of absence granted to an enlisted person.
  2. a usually temporary layoff from work: Many plant workers have been forced to go on furlough.
  3. a temporary leave of absence authorized for a prisoner from a penitentiary.
verb (used with object)
  1. to grant a furlough to.
  2. to lay (an employee or worker) off from work, usually temporarily.

Origin of furlough

1615–25; variant of earlier furlogh, furloff < Dutch verlof leave, permission; current pronunciation by association with dough, etc.
Related formspre·fur·lough, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for furlough


  1. leave of absence from military duty
  2. US a temporary laying-off of employees, usually because there is insufficient work to occupy them
verb (tr)
  1. to grant a furlough to
  2. US to lay off (staff) temporarily

Word Origin

C17: from Dutch verlof, from ver- for- + lof leave, permission; related to Swedish förlof
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for furlough


1620s, vorloffe, from Dutch verlof, literally "permission," from Middle Dutch ver- "completely, for" + laf, lof "permission," which is related to the second element in believe and to leave (n.).

The -gh spelling developed by 1770s and represents an "f" that was once pronounced at the end of the word but disappeared fairly soon thereafter in English.


1783, from furlough (n.). Related: Furloughed; furloughing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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