extra time, space, materials, or the like, within which to operate; margin: With ten minutes' leeway we can catch the train.
a degree of freedom of action or thought: His instructions gave us plenty of leeway.
Also called sag. Nautical. the amount or angle of the drift of a ship to leeward from its heading.
Aeronautics. the amount a plane is blown off its normal course by cross winds.

Origin of leeway

First recorded in 1660–70; lee1 + way1

Synonyms for leeway

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for leeway

play, space, headway, extent, latitude, scope, margin

Examples from the Web for leeway

Contemporary Examples of leeway

Historical Examples of leeway

  • "She's makin' leeway the best I can do," came back from Skipper Zeb.

    Left on the Labrador

    Dillon Wallace

  • The plan of the scale is such as to warrant this amount of leeway.

  • Leeway on the starboard tack is the same as westerly Variation.

    Lectures in Navigation

    Ernest Gallaudet Draper

  • Once let them see you mean to give them any leeway, and they are only content with a revolution.

    Joyce's Investments

    Fannie E. Newberry

  • He gives it leeway as usual; he's used to passing it close because there's plenty of water.

    Smugglers' Reef

    John Blaine

British Dictionary definitions for leeway



room for free movement within limits, as in action or expenditure
sideways drift of a boat or aircraft
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 leeway

1660s, sideways drift of a ship caused by wind, from lee + way. Figurative meaning "extra space" is by 1835.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper