Military. a vacation or leave of absence granted to an enlisted person.
a usually temporary layoff from work: Many plant workers have been forced to go on furlough.
a temporary leave of absence authorized for a prisoner from a penitentiary.

verb (used with object)

to grant a furlough to.
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. 2019

Related Words for furlough

leave, layoff, liberty

Examples from the Web for furlough

Contemporary Examples of furlough

Historical Examples of furlough

  • I will see to it, in the morning, that you have a furlough for a month.


    Henry Morford

  • He got a furlough from his general, and came home in disguise.

  • You'll give a body a furlough, by the way of blowing off the fuddle he has on hand?

    An Outcast

    F. Colburn Adams

  • They had let him out on furlough, well knowing that they could trust his word.

  • And Russia evacuated Masampo, while Pavloff was told that he might take a furlough.

    The Story of Russia

    R. Van Bergen, M.A.

British Dictionary definitions for furlough



leave of absence from military duty
US a temporary laying-off of employees, usually because there is insufficient work to occupy them

verb (tr)

to grant a furlough to
US to lay off (staff) temporarily

Word Origin for furlough

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