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  1. the act of allowing.
  2. an amount or share allotted or granted.
  3. a sum of money allotted or granted for a particular purpose, as for expenses: Her allowance for the business trip was $200.
  4. a sum of money allotted or granted to a person on a regular basis, as for personal or general living expenses: The art student lived on an allowance of $300 a month. When I was in first grade, my parents gave me an allowance of 50 cents a week.
  5. an addition or deduction based on an extenuating or qualifying circumstance: an allowance for profit; an allowance for depreciation.
  6. acknowledgment; concession: the allowance of a claim.
  7. sanction; tolerance: the allowance of slavery.
  8. Machinery. a prescribed difference in dimensions of two closely fitting mating parts with regard to minimum clearance or maximum interference.Compare tolerance(def 6a).
  9. Coining. tolerance(def 7).
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verb (used with object), al·low·anced, al·low·anc·ing.
  1. to place on a fixed allowance, as of food or drink.
  2. to allocate (supplies, rations, etc.) in fixed or regular amounts.
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  1. make allowance/allowances(for),
    1. to take mitigating factors or circumstances into consideration.
    2. to pardon; excuse.
    3. to reserve time, money, etc.; allow for: Make allowance for souvenirs on the return trip.
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Origin of allowance

1350–1400; Middle English alouance < Middle French. See allow, -ance
Related formspre·al·low·ance, nounsu·per·al·low·ance, noun

Synonyms for allowance

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

Related Words for allowance

salary, wage, fee, gift, grant, ration, quota, stipend, subsidy, allotment, allocation, pension, alimony, aid, contribution, scholarship, annuity, deduction, reduction, adjustment

Examples from the Web for allowance

Contemporary Examples of allowance

Historical Examples of allowance

  • You are heated now, Sir, and I can make every allowance for your natural vexation.

  • He was a year younger than I, and young-looking even when that allowance was made.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • He meant to keep up her allowance, he said, and he had insured his life for her.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • Wondering now I was how we should last until the next quarter's allowance.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • "You don't make any allowance for the views of women," Roger said.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

British Dictionary definitions for allowance


  1. an amount of something, esp money or food, given or allotted usually at regular intervals
  2. a discount, as in consideration for something given in part exchange or to increase business; rebate
  3. (in Britain) an amount of a person's income that is not subject to a particular tax and is therefore deducted before his or her liability to taxation is assessed
  4. a portion set aside to compensate for something or to cover special expenses
  5. British education a salary supplement given to a teacher who is appointed to undertake extra duties and responsibilities
  6. admission; concession
  7. the act of allowing; sanction; toleration
  8. something allowed
  9. make allowances or make allowance (usually foll by for)
    1. to take mitigating circumstances into account in consideration (of)
    2. to allow (for)
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  1. (tr) to supply (something) in limited amounts
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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 allowance


late 14c., "praise" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French aloance "allowance, granting, allocation," from alouer (see allow). Sense of "a sum alloted to meet expenses" is from c.1400. In accounts, meaning "a sum placed to one's credit" is attested from 1520s. To make allowances is literally to add or deduct a sum from someone's account for some special circumstance. Figurative use of the phrase is attested from 1670s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with allowance


see make allowance.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.