Definition of allow in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈlou/


[with object]
1Admit (an event or activity) as legal or acceptable: a plan to allow Sunday shopping a reservoir with no hunting or overnight camping allowed
More example sentences
  • The Government has decided not to allow cultural events in the evenings in Lalbagh.
  • Swindon Council's planning committee will decide whether to allow the project to go ahead.
  • Earlier this month the Federal Justice Minister decided to allow the extradition process to begin.
1.1 [with object and infinitive] Give (someone) permission to do something: the dissident was allowed to leave the country
More example sentences
  • Adam reckons I'm not allowed to eat in bed when I move in with him, but we'll see about that.
  • Because we are prepared to allow people to make their own decisions we cannot be sure just quite where those decisions will take them.
  • Faced with these figures, it beggars belief that the Government is prepared to allow people to drink around the clock.
permit, let, authorize, give permission for, give authorization for, sanction, license, enable, entitle;
consent to, assent to, give one's consent to/for, give one's assent to/for, give one's blessing to/for, give the nod to, acquiesce to, agree to, approve;
tolerate, brook
informal give the go-ahead to/for, give the thumbs up to/for, OK, give the OK to/for, give the green light to/for
formal accede to
1.2 [with two objects] Permit (someone) to have (something): he was allowed his first sip of Scotch and soda
More example sentences
  • On both occasions the accused held a valid permit allowing him to carry a restricted firearm while he was engaged in prospecting.
  • Those devices that are allowed will only be permitted to incorporate cables and media that limit copying.
  • Residents in some areas of Swindon could soon only be allowed one parking permit per house.
1.3Permit (someone) to enter a place or go in a particular direction: the river was patrolled and few people were allowed across
More example sentences
  • Legal powers agreed in 1990 allow officers to enter properties and turn off alarms if the owner fails to do so.
  • David has some interesting things to say about the game, and the morally dubious world it allows you to enter.
  • Thank you for allowing us to enter the throne room of God with our imperfections and doubts.
2Give the necessary time or opportunity for: they agreed to a ceasefire to allow talks with the government [with object and infinitive]: he stopped for a moment to allow his eyes to adjust [no object]: dated my household duties were too many to allow of a visit to the hospital
More example sentences
  • Churchgate will be closed to traffic to allow the event to take place.
  • What makes ice so slippery, allowing these fun activities?
  • His trembling hand got the glass close enough to his mouth to allow him a sip.
2.1 [no object] (allow for) Make provision or provide scope for (something): the house was demolished to allow for road widening
More example sentences
  • He said that it might be possible to amend the Coroner's Act to allow for such a provision to be made.
  • In some cases the provision which allows for or requires the thing to be done also prescribes that it must be done personally and not by an agent.
  • Typically, there will be a provision in the rules allowing for their variation from time to time.
2.2 [no object] (allow for) Take (something) into consideration when making plans or calculations: income rose by 11 percent allowing for inflation
More example sentences
  • Plan your trip allowing for short breaks and start out fresh by getting enough sleep in the week leading up to your trip.
  • A business plan that does not allow for adjustment can end up very far off the mark.
  • A wrong calculation allowing for too little time will result in an unfinished work.
2.3Provide or set aside (a specified amount of something) for a specific purpose: allow an hour or so for driving
More example sentences
  • Further questioning revealed that the purpose was to allow flood water to escape more quickly.
  • The scarf's purpose is to allow the bobbin case hook to get close to the needle eye and catch the thread to form a stitch.
  • The cup of cream for six eggs is there for one purpose only: to allow the recipe to succeed.
set aside, allocate, allot, earmark, designate, assign, leave
3 [reporting verb] Admit the truth of; concede: [with clause]: he allowed that the penalty appeared too harsh for the crime [with direct speech]: “Could happen,” she allowed indifferently
More example sentences
  • The Federal Court has allowed that treatments are patentable.
  • I hesitated, but allowed that we'd do sort of a trial run for a few months.
  • He should have allowed that the British Empire was made out of empty spaces or, in India, collapsing states.
admit, acknowledge, recognize, agree, accept, concede, grant
3.1 [with clause] North American informal or dialect Assert; be of the opinion: Lincoln allowed that he himself could never support the man
More example sentences
  • He allowed that Social Security was ‘the single most successful government program in American history.’
  • He allowed that he was going to stay and eat supper with the big old bear.


Middle English (originally in the senses 'commend, sanction' and 'assign as a right'): from Old French alouer, from Latin allaudare 'to praise', reinforced by medieval Latin allocare 'to place' (see allocate).

  • This was originally used to mean ‘commend, sanction’ and ‘assign as a right’. Both meanings were adopted from Old French alouer in about 1300. The source was Latin allaudare ‘to praise’, reinforced by medieval Latin allocare ‘to place’.

Words that rhyme with allow

avow, Bilbao, Bissau, bough, bow, bow-wow, brow, cacao, chow, ciao, cow, dhow, Dow, endow, Foochow, Frau, Hangzhou, Hough, how, Howe, kowtow, Lao, Liao, Macao, Macau, miaow, Mindanao, mow, now, ow, Palau, plough (US plow), pow, prow, row, scow, Slough, sough, sow, Tao, thou, vow, wow, Yangshao

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: al·low

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