Definition of furlough in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfərlō/


1Leave of absence, especially that granted to a member of the armed services: a civil servant home on furlough a six-week furlough in Australia
More example sentences
  • The only restrictions placed on officers granting furloughs limited leaves to no more than thirty days for 5 percent of the unit at one time.
  • I had a 10-day furlough from Louisiana, and the trip home took three days each way.
  • His occasional trips to England, on furlough or for training, were when he felt most out of water.
1.1US A temporary release of a convict from prison: a system that allowed murderers to leave prison for weekend furloughs
More example sentences
  • The saga about a convict on furlough from prison in Massachusetts sent shivers up the spines of even the most devoted Democrats.
  • His revolving door prison policy gave weekend furloughs to first-degree murderers not eligible for parole.
  • Surely he remembers the controversies over prison furloughs and the death penalty.
1.2US A layoff, especially a temporary one, from a place of employment.
Example sentences
  • Committee members said retirement is a preferred solution to employee furloughs or layoffs.
  • Among the company's most objectionable demands are that workers returning from layoff would receive only 70 percent of their previous wage and that furloughs be substituted for layoffs.
  • The cuts will affect all work groups and will be accomplished through a combination of part-time work schedules, furloughs and permanent layoffs.


[with object] US
1Grant a leave of absence to.
1.1Lay off (workers), especially temporarily: President Reagan furloughed “nonessential” employees (as adjective furloughed) factories are apt to recall some furloughed workers
More example sentences
  • Schemes to furlough employees for a couple of weeks, for example, may be a mere inconvenience for faculty, but a major problem for staff who, at low pay, can hardly afford to spend two weeks out of work.
  • A proposal to furlough employees for four to five unpaid days over winter break has been dropped.
  • That Saturday, September 15, Bethune announced that Continental would furlough 12,000 workers.


Early 17th century: from Dutch verlof, modeled on German Verlaub, of West Germanic origin and related to leave2.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: fur·lough

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