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allow

[uh-lou]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to give permission to or for; permit: to allow a student to be absent; No swimming allowed.
  2. to let have; give as one's share; grant as one's right: to allow a person $100 for expenses.
  3. to permit by neglect, oversight, or the like: to allow a door to remain open.
  4. to admit; acknowledge; concede: to allow a claim.
  5. to take into consideration, as by adding or subtracting; set apart: to allow an hour for changing trains.
  6. Older Use. to say; think.
  7. Archaic. to approve; sanction.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to permit something to happen or to exist; admit (often followed by of): to spend more than one's budget allows; a premise that allows of only one conclusion.
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Idioms
  1. allow for, to make concession or provision for: to allow for breakage.
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Origin of allow

1250–1300; Middle English alowen < Anglo-French al(l)o(u)er to place, allot, allow, Old French aloer to place < Late Latin allocāre; see al-, locus; the older sense “approve, sanction” and Middle English sense “praise” probably by taking the Anglo-French v. as representing Medieval Latin, Latin adlaudāre to praise; see ad-, laud
Related formspre·al·low, verb (used with object)

Synonym study

1. Allow, let, permit imply granting or conceding the right of someone to do something. Allow and permit are often interchangeable, but permit is the more positive. Allow implies complete absence of an attempt, or even an intent, to hinder. Permit suggests formal or implied assent or authorization. Let is the familiar, conversational term for both allow and permit.

Antonyms

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

grant, authorize, oblige, recognize, support, tolerate, favor, pass, release, approve, provide, assign, give, own, confess, avow, concede, acquiesce, accord, certify

Examples from the Web for allow

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He worships every handsome woman, who will allow herself to be polluted by his incense.

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • Accept them for a dowry; and allow me to claim one privilege in return.

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • The King of course could not allow one of his subjects to outdo him in such a matter.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • Austin, who did not see the allusion, had to allow Dick to speak for himself.

    Viviette

    William J. Locke

  • Andrew paused in the shallows to allow Sally one swallow; then he went on.


British Dictionary definitions for allow

allow

verb
  1. (tr) to permit (to do something); let
  2. (tr) to set asidefive hours were allowed to do the job
  3. (tr) to let enter or staythey don't allow dogs
  4. (tr) to acknowledge or concede (a point, claim, etc)
  5. (tr) to let have; granthe was allowed few visitors
  6. (intr foll by for) to take into accountallow for delays
  7. (intr often foll by of) to permit; admita question that allows of only one reply
  8. (tr; may take a clause as object) US dialect to assert; maintain
  9. (tr) archaic to approve; accept
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Word Origin

C14: from Old French alouer, from Late Latin allaudāre to extol, influenced by Medieval Latin allocāre to assign, allocate
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 allow

v.

early 14c., allouen, "to commend, praise; approve of, be pleased with; appreciate the value of;" also, "take into account or give credit for," also, in law and philosophy, "recognize, admit as valid" (a privilege, an excuse, a statement, etc.). From late 14c. as "sanction or permit; condone;" in business use from early 15c.

The Middle English word is from Anglo-French alouer, Old French aloer, alloiier (13c.) "allot, apportion, bestow, assign," from Latin allocare (see allocate). This word in Old French was confused and ultimately merged with aloer; alloer "to praise, commend," from Latin allaudare, adlaudare, compound of ad- "to" (see ad-) + laudare "to praise" (see laud). From the first word came the sense preserved in allowance as "money granted;" from the second came its meaning "permission based on approval."

Between the two primary significations there naturally arose a variety of uses blending them in the general idea of assign with approval, grant, concede a thing claimed or urged, admit a thing offered, permit, etc., etc. [OED].

Related: Allowed; allowing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper