[ lee-wey ]
/ ˈliˌweɪ /


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.

Nearby words

  1. leeuwarden,
  2. leeuwenhoek,
  3. leeward,
  4. leeward islands,
  5. leewardly,
  6. lefkoşa,
  7. lefort i fracture,
  8. lefort ii fracture,
  9. lefort iii fracture,
  10. lefse

Origin of leeway

First recorded in 1660–70; lee1 + way1

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

Examples from the Web for leeway

British Dictionary definitions for leeway


/ (ˈliːˌweɪ) /


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