There are 2 main definitions of let in English:

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let 1

Pronunciation: /let/

verb (lets, letting; past and past participle let)

1 [with object and infinitive] Not prevent or forbid; allow: my boss let me leave early you mustn’t let yourself get so involved
More example sentences
  • He doesn't let his busy schedule prevent him from visiting Scotland regularly.
  • The padding helps prevent soreness and lets you spend more time on the saddle.
  • But his boss won't let him leave - at least not until he completes one final contract.
allow to, permit to, give permission to, give leave to, authorize to, sanction to, grant the right to, license to, empower to, enable to, entitle to
archaic suffer to
1.1 [with object] Allow to pass in a particular direction: could you let the dog out? a tiny window that let in hardly any light
More example sentences
  • Torches lined the stairs, and an occasional stained-glass window let in some light.
  • They let heat in but prevent it from getting out.
  • The following morning I'm woken up nice and early by the builders letting themselves in to the apartment.
allow to go, permit to pass;
make way for
2 [with object and infinitive] Used in the imperative to formulate various expressions.
2.1 (let us or let's) Used as a polite way of making or responding to a suggestion, giving an instruction, or introducing a remark: let’s have a drink “Shall we go?” “Yes, let.”
More example sentences
  • Also let's not forget the traffic lights on the Salisbury road also creating major tailbacks.
  • This, let's not forget, is the man who only this week pretended to cut off part of his ear in a press conference.
  • Finally, let's not forget that Bermuda is only one mile wide and surrounded by water.
2.2 (let me or let us) Used to make a polite offer of help: “Here, let me,” offered Bruce
More example sentences
  • If you must continue with this project, then please let me help with the images.
  • Here, let me do your bow tie.
  • ‘Here, let me,’ Emily said, coming to her aid.
2.3Used to express one’s strong desire for something to happen or be the case: “Dear God,” Jessica prayed, “let him be all right.”
More example sentences
  • Let him soothe me, let him calm me, let his strong arms encircle me and protect me.
  • Every day we wake up, we pray please let today be the day we have the answers.
  • Every match I play, I still think ‘Oh my God, please let it end.’
2.4Used as a way of expressing defiance or challenge: if he wants to walk out, well, let him!
More example sentences
  • If they want a challenge, let them clean up the damage they have caused.
  • If some want to mount an eleventh-hour challenge, let them come out in the open.
  • However I was aware that we lived in a world where I can make up my own mind, so if I want to smoke then let me.
2.5Used to express an assumption upon which a theory or calculation is to be based: let A and B stand for X and Y, respectively
More example sentences
  • Let x be the observed value of this statistic.
  • Let L be the earth's equator and let x be a point in the northern hemisphere.
  • Let the line equal to line AG be AD, and let DG be joined.
3 [with object] Allow someone to have the use of (a room or property) in return for regular payments; rent: homeowners will be able to let rooms to lodgers without having to pay tax they’ve let out their apartment
More example sentences
  • Letters have been sent to solicitors and letting agents after police found people are letting properties for themselves then sub-letting them to prostitutes.
  • The council also wants to start targeting private landlords in a bid to encourage them to consider letting their properties to people receiving housing benefit.
  • She will take charge of letting the property in the future.
4 [with object] Award (a contract for a particular project) to an applicant: preliminary contracts were let and tunneling work started
More example sentences
  • The firm will be responsible for training staff and letting the operating contract and will give advice on waste systems engineering, policy and planning.
  • The Government let the contract to an English firm.
  • The changes and delays in fund-raising and letting contracts pushed the opening to this summer.



let alone

Used to indicate that something is far less likely, possible, or suitable than something else already mentioned: he was incapable of leading a bowling team, let alone a country
More example sentences
  • I don't want to share the same room with her and the hounds, let alone a mortgage.
  • Who on earth would be prepared, let alone equipped to take on such a challenge?
  • At the time he had no idea how to start a business, let alone find the financial backing to realise his dream.

let someone/something alone

see alone.

let someone/something be

Stop disturbing or interfering with: let him be—he knows what he wants
More example sentences
  • He stopped frozen and let me be, which was the best choice he could have made.
  • Irritated, she turned to me at a noisy high school basketball game, complaining that I should let things be, stop applying words to our friends, stop seeking motives and positing consequences.
  • Nobody likes a control freak, so stop being a bossyboots and let things be.

let someone down gently

Seek to give someone bad news in a way that avoids causing them too much distress or humiliation.
Example sentences
  • His editor let him down gently and swiftly changed the subject.
  • Is there a good way to let someone down gently when you're not interested?
  • I think he was trying to let me down gently.

let something drop (or fall)

Casually reveal a piece of information: from the things he let drop, I think there was a woman in his life
More example sentences
  • After the cop had stopped the attractive and self-assured woman for speeding, she let it drop that her father was himself an officer, recently retired.
  • The other day, while talking to a group of women at a public function, she let it drop that she had visited the Chief Minister.
  • Some time ago, he let it fall that he thought the novel no longer had any life in it.

let fall

Geometry Draw (a perpendicular) from an outside point to a line.
Example sentences
  • On the tangent PR produced let fall the perpendicular SY.
  • Let ABC be any triangle, and the angle at B one of its acute angles, and upon BC, one of the sides containing it, let fall the perpendicular.
  • Their effects must be estimated by the length of perpendiculars let fall upon the lines of direction in a similar manner.

let fly

Attack, either physically or verbally: the troops let fly with tear gas
More example sentences
  • Well, I verbally let fly, causing Daddy to come in and, thankfully, and fairly, he stuck up for me.
  • A furious Hayden let fly verbally at Jones, who had raised his hand in apology.
  • Handfuls of stones were loaded into our respective weapons, and as the first bird flew over, we let fly.
shoot, fire, blast
informal chuck, sling, heave
lose one's temper with, lash out at, scold, chastise, chide, rant at, inveigh against, rail against;
explode at, burst out at, let someone have it
formal excoriate

let oneself go

1Act in an unrestrained or uninhibited way: you need to unwind and let yourself go
More example sentences
  • Carl made her feel so good, so relaxed that she let herself go completely, losing herself in the moment.
  • Decadence is selfish - it means letting yourself go and not caring about others, not caring about tomorrow so you do whatever you want today.
  • The government seems uncomfortable about these ‘drink-fuelled scenes’, fearful of rowdy crowds of people letting themselves go.
2Become careless or untidy in one’s habits or appearance: he’s really let himself go since my mother died
More example sentences
  • He has let himself go, no longer caring about his appearance, or able to get up in the mornings.
  • You have to wait until you get married before you start letting yourself go.
  • Let's speak plainly here, David, it looks as if you've been letting yourself go.

let someone/something go

1Allow someone or something to escape or go free: they let the hostages go
More example sentences
  • They let the dogs go, allowing them to go after my parents.
  • He produced a knife and forced her to remove her underwear, but when she repeatedly asked to be freed he panicked and let her go.
  • The woman pleaded with the man to let her go, and eventually escaped after kicking him in the groin.
1.1Dismiss an employee.
Example sentences
  • About 24 of the 100 employees at CBS Internet were let go in June.
  • On your side is the fact that, in most sectors, employers are increasingly realising that it's cheaper and more efficient to hold on to skilled people rather than let them go and train new employees.
  • He would hire employees, let them go when receivables dipped - and then hastily hire them back when the work flowed in again.
dismiss, discharge, lay off, give notice to
informal sack, fire, ax, give someone their marching orders, send packing, give someone the boot, give someone the (old) heave-ho, can, pink-slip
2 (also let go or let go of) Relinquish one’s grip on someone or something: Adam let go of the reins figurative you must let the past go
More example sentences
  • William refused to let her go as his grip around her tightened.
  • She shivered slightly as his fingers gently gripped hers then slowly let go.
  • I let out a yell and tried to twist out of his grip, he let go and I fell with a thump.
release, release one's hold on, loose/loosen one's hold on, relinquish
archaic unhand

let someone have it

informal Attack someone physically or verbally: I really let him have it for worrying me so much
More example sentences
  • The fighter draws a slug from a water bottle, swishes it round his mouth, fixes the kid with a grin and lets him have it, right between the eyes.
  • So he's going to hold back the wrath until he gets tired and then he's just gonna let us have it?
  • They rang him up for an interview - and before they could put the phone down he let them have it with both barrels.

let in (or out) the clutch

Engage (or release) the clutch of a vehicle by releasing pressure on (or applying it to) the clutch pedal.
Example sentences
  • I drop into first gear, let out the clutch, and enjoy the crawl.
  • The driver stood on the accelerator, let out the clutch and roared away with tyres screaming.
  • My driver's ed consisted of getting in, starting the motor, and letting out the clutch.

let it drop (or rest)

Say or do no more about a matter or problem.
Example sentences
  • We are certainly not going to let it rest until we get an answer, and an answer we can accept.
  • But if the situation is in check, we say let it rest.
  • ‘I just want what is mine. I'm not going to let it rest,’ he said.

let it go (or pass)

Choose not to react to an action or remark: the decision worried us, but we let it go
More example sentences
  • He should have remarked on this, but let it pass.
  • If there is a chance to bring it up, then do it by all means; but if there is no opportunity, then let it pass.
  • Well, okay, that wasn't routine, but let it pass.

let someone know

Inform someone: let me know what you think of him
More example sentences
  • ‘Communities must keep letting us know about problems if we are to stand a chance of beating this,’ he said.
  • Keep letting us know how you feel about our performance and our responsiveness to you.
  • If you have your own property website then please let us know and we can mention it in the coming weeks.

let someone/something loose

Release someone or something: let the dog loose for a minute
More example sentences
  • However, at least two dogs were let loose by spectators.
  • He also claimed any person walking a dog of a hunting breed in an area where there were known to be wild mammals could be open to prosecution if they let the dog loose.
  • In this competition, dogs are let loose to chase a jack rabbit over desert terrain.
15.1Allow someone freedom of action in a particular place or situation: people are only let loose on the system once they have received sufficient training
More example sentences
  • And for the last 200 years they have been let loose on humanity to perpetuate the worst kind of injustices.
  • Nowadays professional caddies at the world's leading courses undergo strenuous training and have to prove themselves to their caddie-masters before they are let loose on the paying public.
  • The staff spend an average of six months concentrating on backroom duties and learning the basics before they are let loose on the company's clients.
15.2Suddenly utter a sound or remark: he let loose a stream of abuse
More example sentences
  • Stunned, the CEO let loose a stream of expletives and walked out.
  • She stiffened and then let loose a stream of abuse in a South Yorkshire accent.
  • In one Michigan case, a man who let loose a stream of curses after falling out of a canoe in 1999 was convicted of violating a law against cursing in front of women and children.

let me see (or think)

Used when one is pausing, trying to remember something, or considering one’s next words: now let me see, where did I put it?
More example sentences
  • Okay, there must be something good I can mention… let me think… oh yeah, Jackson and I spent a lot of time today building Lego marble runs under the roar of the air conditioning and that was fun.
  • What seemed like an impulsive, friendly thing to do at one moment became, in the space of - oh, let me think, about ten seconds - the worst, most inappropriate and downright clumsy action ever.
  • You first came here, into our parts - let me think - when was it?

let me tell you

Used to emphasize a statement: let me tell you, I was very scared!
More example sentences
  • I have freed myself from its grasp - and let me tell you, it feels good.
  • They seem to really understand customer service over here, let me tell you.
  • But let me tell you, when work is needed, they know how to work hard.

let off steam

see steam.

let rip

see rip1.

let's face it (or let's be honest)

informal Used to convey that one must be realistic about an unwelcome fact or situation: let’s be honest, your taste in men is famously bad
More example sentences
  • But let's be honest here: athletes must think about their associations before acting ridiculously.
  • He is a guy who, let's face it, did not have to take a lie detector test at all.
  • Anyway, let's face it, we all know that cigarettes are bad for your health.

let slip

see slip1.

let's pretend

A game or set of circumstances in which one behaves as though a fictional or unreal situation were a real one.
Example sentences
  • But standing in a parking lot today I suddenly felt home, and everything I'd experienced since I left felt like a big game of let's pretend.
  • Of course his repentance is another game of let's pretend, momentarily seeming true under the spell of Handel's music.
  • Everyone knows that theatre is a world of let's pretend.

let's say (or let us say)

Used as a way of introducing a hypothetical or possible situation: let’s say we agreed to go our separate ways
More example sentences
  • Let's say there had been drugs, let's say there had been a shooting and two students were killed.
  • So it's a little bit different from reading, let's say, a scholarly journal.
  • So let's say that we have about 2.5m children in one parent families.

to let

chiefly British (Of a room or property) available for rent.
Example sentences
  • She knew the house was to let and believed that the two men were probable tenants.
  • There was no sign that indicated that the house was to let.
  • He had heard that she had a flat to let.

Phrasal verbs


let down

(Of an aircraft or a pilot) descend before making a landing.
Example sentences
  • Within the hour, we were letting down for a landing at Casablanca on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.
  • It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and I was letting down over the Adriatic heading southward.

let someone down

Fail to support or help someone as they had hoped or expected.
Example sentences
  • Is someone letting you down or failing to get a job done on time?
  • Ken had been her best friend and she'd let him down.
  • Girlfriends support you when the man in your life lets you down.
fail, fail to support, disappoint, disillusion;
abandon, desert, leave stranded, leave in the lurch
(let someone/something down)2.1 Have a detrimental effect on the overall quality or success of someone or something: the whole machine is let down by the tacky keyboard
More example sentences
  • The north west has a wonderful range of historic buildings, but so often they are let down by the poor quality of the public spaces around them.
  • However, smaller airports were let down by the quality of their facilities, such as shops and food outlets.
  • The sound quality let them down massively, but they still managed to do well at warming up the audience.

let something down

1Lower something slowly or in stages: they let down a basket on a chain
More example sentences
  • I tied one end of the cord to the basket and let the basket down slowly to Mr. Webster's level.
  • After everything settled down, I slowly let my arm down.
  • The man let his hand down slowly, still looking at the woman.
2Make a garment longer, especially by lowering the hem.
Example sentences
  • I do not own a pair of trousers that I have not had to let the hem down on.
  • I bought a used dress and I need to let the skirt down about an inch.
  • When you let the hem down, the nice bright unfaded material now exposed tends to show up just how faded the rest of the garment has become.
lengthen, make longer

let someone in

Admit someone to a room, building, or area: I had to wake up my roommate to let me in
More example sentences
  • He was standing outside the Pemberley gate, waiting patiently for the guard to let him in.
  • He'll shut up once you let him in.
  • "Come on in," She chirped cheerily, stepping aside to let us in.

let oneself in for

informal Involve oneself in (something likely to be difficult or unpleasant): I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for
More example sentences
  • Do you know what you're letting yourself in for?
  • I want to talk a little about the reality of post-graduate work for people who are considering it because I think you should know what you're letting yourself in for.
  • You know exactly what you're letting yourself in for.

let someone in on/into

Allow someone to know or share (something secret or confidential): I’ll let you into a secret
More example sentences
  • I wanted her to let me in on all her secrets.
  • He speaks directly to his audience, letting us in on great secrets - not as though we are sitting in his class, but like we ran in to him at the video store.
  • Ned lets Lyn in on his secret, because he wants her to make him a costume.
include in, count in on, admit in on, allow to share in, let participate in, inform about, tell about

let something into

Set something back into (the surface to which it is fixed), so that it does not project from it: the basin is partly let into the wall
More example sentences
  • Two stone plaques are let into the wall on either side of the entrance.
  • Metal plates, hinges, and other pieces of hardware look best if let into the surface of the wood.

let someone off

1Punish someone lightly or not at all for a misdemeanor or offense: he was let off with a warning
More example sentences
  • He limped over and thanked us for letting him off lightly.
  • Is there any concern that this is going to be seen as basically letting him off lightly?
  • It may have been better to discipline him for his repeated misdemeanours rather than let him off.
pardon, forgive, grant an amnesty to;
deal leniently with, be merciful to, have mercy on;
informal let someone off the hook
formal exculpate
2Excuse someone from a task or obligation: he let me off work for the day
More example sentences
  • If you come up with an excuse, a doctor's note might let you off.
  • I just had to make a simple excuse of overwhelming studies, confusion and stress, and I was let off.
  • The last words addressed to me were ‘I'll let you off tomorrow.’
excuse from, exempt from, spare from

let something off

Cause a gun, firework, or bomb to fire or explode.
Example sentences
  • Thousands of fireworks were let off in the castle grounds at the stroke of midnight to mark the start of the New Year.
  • Some people enjoy fireworks but animals don't and can become terrified when fireworks are let off.
  • When he played Carnegie Hall in 1971 a stink bomb was let off.

let on

1Reveal or divulge information to someone: she knows a lot more than she lets on [with clause]: I never let on that he made me feel anxious
More example sentences
  • I felt like he had more information then he was letting on.
  • I answered simply, without letting on a lot of information.
  • Something wasn't right here and she knew Noah held more information than he was letting on.
reveal, make known, tell, disclose, mention, divulge, let slip, give away, make public;
2Pretend: [with clause]: they all let on that they didn’t hear me
More example sentences
  • Now he's letting on he finds them bewildering, and he's supposed to be Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism!
  • Serious things have happened and it's no good people letting on that they didn't.
  • I once liked Rosie, but she let on she was a different person then.
pretend, feign, affect, make out, make believe, simulate

let out

North American (Of lessons at school, a meeting, or an entertainment) finish, so that those attending are able to leave: his classes let out at noon
More example sentences
  • School begins at seven and lets out at two thirty.
  • The last screening of the film festival let out at 7:30 p.m.
  • What time does class let out?

let someone out

Release someone from obligation or suspicion: they’ve started looking for motives—that lets me out
More example sentences
  • Clearly if you were the average poor boy who got drafted and sent into the active force, they weren't going to let you out before you had completed your obligation.
  • The player we have been looking at has had problems with his club letting him out.
  • Be polite and keep your lip zipped and they'll usually let you out and tell you to disappear.
release, liberate, (set) free, let go, discharge;
set/turn loose, allow to leave

let something out

1Utter a sound or cry: he let out a sigh of happiness
More example sentences
  • My mom let out a gasp when she saw the box sitting on my desk.
  • As soon as the door opened, both the parents let out gasps of horror.
  • The guard let out a pained groan before going down for the count.
utter, emit, give, give vent to, produce, issue, express, voice, release
2Make a garment looser or larger, typically by adjusting a seam.
Example sentences
  • You can let the shoulder seam out or take it in at the princess seam.
  • Those jeans have been let out so often you don't look like you're wearing jeans that fit.
  • I had to let the waist out in all my pants.
3Reveal a piece of information: [with clause]: she let out that he’d given her a ride home
More example sentences
  • No one had any idea if his injuries were serious or not, since the doctors were not letting any information out.
  • She let the information out that Kevin already knew about the baby.
  • How could he exchange words with that man without letting out that he was in love with his wife?
reveal, make known, tell, disclose, mention, divulge, let slip, give away, let it be known, blurt out

let up

informal (Of something undesirable) become less intense or severe: the rain’s letting up—it’ll be clear soon
More example sentences
  • Instead of letting up, the snow squalls intensified.
  • However, on December 27, the region was blanketed by an intense winter storm that showed no signs of letting up.
  • The rain had let up a little bit.
abate, lessen, decrease, diminish, subside, relent, slacken, die down/off, ease (off), tail off;
ebb, wane, dwindle, fade;
stop, cease, finish
14.1Relax one’s efforts: she was so far ahead that she could afford to let up a bit
More example sentences
  • Our main priority is getting promoted and finishing the season on a high, but that doesn't mean we will be letting up one bit tomorrow.
  • After yesterday's rest day a lot of riders were feeling good but there were times that some of us were wondering if people would ever let up, even a bit.
  • You could see once he made the lead, he let up a little bit.
relax, ease up/off, slow down;
pause, break (off), take a break, rest, stop
informal take a breather, chill (out), chillax
(let up on) informal14.2 Treat or deal with in a more lenient manner: she didn’t let up on Cunningham
More example sentences
  • She lets up on Felicia but starts complaining about her year-old marriage, which is much harder than she thought it would be.
  • We are not going to let up on the government until things are done.
  • This is a constant problem and we will not let up on those who break the law.
treat less severely, be more lenient with, be kinder to
informal go easy on


Old English lǣtan 'leave behind, leave out,' of Germanic origin; related to Dutch laten and German lassen, also to late.

Words that rhyme with let

abet, aiguillette, anisette, Annette, Antoinette, arête, Arlette, ate, baguette, banquette, barbette, barrette, basinet, bassinet, beget, Bernadette, beset, bet, Bette, blanquette, Brett, briquette, brochette, brunette (US brunet), Burnett, cadet, caravanette, cassette, castanet, charette, cigarette (US cigaret), clarinet, Claudette, Colette, coquette, corvette, couchette, courgette, croquette, curette, curvet, Debrett, debt, dinette, diskette, duet, epaulette (US epaulet), flageolet, flannelette, forget, fret, galette, gazette, Georgette, get, godet, grisette, heavyset, Jeanette, jet, kitchenette, La Fayette, landaulet, launderette, layette, lazaret, leatherette, Lett, lorgnette, luncheonette, lunette, Lynette, maisonette, majorette, maquette, Marie-Antoinette, marionette, Marquette, marquisette, martinet, met, minaret, minuet, moquette, motet, musette, Nanette, net, noisette, nonet, novelette, nymphet, octet, Odette, on-set, oubliette, Paulette, pet, Phuket, picquet, pillaret, pincette, pipette, piquet, pirouette, planchette, pochette, quartet, quickset, quintet, regret, ret, Rhett, roomette, rosette, roulette, satinette, septet, serviette, sestet, set, sett, sextet, silhouette, soubrette, spinet, spinneret, statuette, stet, stockinet, sublet, suffragette, Suzette, sweat, thickset, threat, Tibet, toilette, tret, underlet, upset, usherette, vedette, vet, vignette, vinaigrette, wagonette, wet, whet, winceyette, yet, Yvette

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: let

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There are 2 main definitions of let in English:

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let 2

Pronunciation: /let/


(In racket sports) a play that is nullified and has to be played again, especially when a served ball touches the top of the net.
Example sentences
  • In a first game that lasted nearly 30 minutes, she maintained her composure through a series of lets, strokes, and no lets.
  • I believe I have a very good understanding of lets and strokes.
  • If you encounter interference and then play the ball, you have no right to a let.

verb (lets, letting; past and past participle letted or let)

[with object] archaic
Hinder: pray you let us not; we fain would greet our mother
More example sentences
  • As Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his Church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief.
  • Pray you let us not; We fain would greet our mother.
  • If God be with a work, who is he that will let or impede it?



let or hindrance

formal Obstruction or impediment: the passport opened frontiers to the traveler without let or hindrance
More example sentences
  • The law must take its course on this matter, without let or hindrance.
  • The reality is, of course, that for every ‘bad apple’ who ended up in court, there were countless more going about their dread business without let or hindrance.
  • The oil would continue to flow without let or hindrance - and it did.

play a let

(In tennis, squash, etc.) play a point again because the ball or one of the players has been obstructed.
Example sentences
  • The umpire played a let, as ballboys and girls scurried around reassembling Miss Whatley's paperwork.
  • If there is a disagreement between you and your opponent about a let/stroke/no let situation, play a let.
  • When he accidentally hit Joey with the ball, Nick was very apologetic and sportingly played a let.


Old English lettan 'hinder', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch letten, also to late.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: let

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