[ tol-er-uhns ]
See synonyms for tolerance on
  1. a fair, respectful, and permissive attitude or policy toward people whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own or from those of the majority; freedom from bigotry and from an insistence on conformity: In this multiracial, multicultural school, students are taught tolerance and respect for those different from themselves.Recent changes in the country’s legislation show greater tolerance for religious diversity.

  2. interest in, concern for, and openness toward ideas, opinions, practices, etc., that are different from one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic attitude: Tolerance presupposes taking the other's perspective, not just being aware of it.Mine is a job that rewards curiosity and tolerance—an exploratory spirit with respect to new ideas.

  1. the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: I have a very low tolerance for noise and excitement.Of course pain is subjective, because everyone has their own level of pain tolerance.

  2. the act of passively allowing something, especially something wrong, by failing to prevent or stop it; toleration: There will be no tolerance of abusive language in this workplace.

  3. Medicine/Medical, Immunology, Biology.

    • the power of enduring or resisting the action of a drug, poison, pollutant, or biological stressor, as in drug tolerance:Patients exhibiting morphine tolerance require higher doses over time in order to achieve the same pain relief.The project aims to develop a variety of sorghum with superior drought and salinity tolerance.

    • the lack of or low levels of immune response to transplanted tissue or other foreign substance that is normally immunogenic: The lab studies the fundamental mechanisms of transplant rejection and transplant tolerance, with a goal to help patients avoid the need for lifelong immunosuppressive drugs.

  4. Machinery.

    • the permissible range of variation in a dimension of an object.: Compare allowance (def. 8).

    • the permissible variation of an object or objects in some characteristic such as hardness, weight, or quantity.

  5. Also called allowance .Coining. a permissible deviation in the fineness and weight of coin, owing to the difficulty of securing exact conformity to the standard prescribed by law.

Origin of tolerance

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English tol(l)eraunce, from Old French tol(l)erance, from Medieval Latin tollerantia, from Latin tolerantia; see tolerant, -ance

synonym study For tolerance

1, 4. Tolerance , toleration agree in allowing the right of something that one does not approve. Tolerance suggests a liberal spirit toward the views and actions of others: tolerance toward religious minorities. Toleration implies the allowance or sufferance of conduct with which one is not in accord: toleration of graft.

Other words for tolerance

Other words from tolerance

  • non·tol·er·ance, noun
  • o·ver·tol·er·ance, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

British Dictionary definitions for tolerance


/ (ˈtɒlərəns) /

  1. the state or quality of being tolerant

  2. capacity to endure something, esp pain or hardship

  1. the permitted variation in some measurement or other characteristic of an object or workpiece

  2. physiol the capacity of an organism to endure the effects of a poison or other substance, esp after it has been taken over a prolonged period

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