From Middle English allowen, alowen, a borrowing from Anglo-Norman allouer, alouer, from Medieval Latin allaudāre, present active infinitive of allaudō, merged with alouer, from Medieval Latin allocō (“to assign”).
The similarity with Middle English alyfen (from Old English ālīefan) and German erlauben, both from Proto-Germanic *uzlaubijaną (“to allow”) is coincidental.
allow (third-person singular simple present allows, present participle allowing, simple past and past participle allowed)
- (ditransitive) To grant, give, admit, accord, afford, or yield; to let one have.
- to allow a servant his liberty; to allow a free passage; to allow one day for rest
- 2004 , Garnett, Constance, transl., “Ariadne”, in The Darling: and Other Stories, translation of original by Anton Chekhov:
- […] he needed a great deal of money, but his uncle only allowed him two thousand roubles a year, which was not enough, and for days together he would run about Moscow with his tongue out, as the saying is.
- (transitive) To enable; to permit; to grant license to; to consent to.
- I will allow my son to be absent.
- 1992, Rudolf M[athias] Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page vii:
- With fresh material, taxonomic conclusions are leavened by recognition that the material examined reflects the site it occupied; a herbarium packet gives one only a small fraction of the data desirable for sound conclusions. Herbarium material does not, indeed, allow one to extrapolate safely: what you see is what you get […]
- To not bar or obstruct.
- Although I don't consent to their holding such meetings, I will allow them for the time being.
- Smoking allowed only in designated areas.
- 2013 July 26, Leo Hickman, “How algorithms rule the world”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 7, page 26:
- The use of algorithms in policing is one example of their increasing influence on our lives. And, as their ubiquity spreads, so too does the debate around whether we should allow ourselves to become so reliant on them – and who, if anyone, is policing their use.
- (transitive) To acknowledge; to accept as true; to concede; to accede to an opinion.
- to allow a right; to allow a claim; to allow an appeal to allow the truth of a proposition
- 1815, Austen, Jane, chapter 5, in Emma, volume 1:
- Mr. Knightley, I shall not allow you to be a fair judge in this case.
- 1855, Thackeray, William Makepeace, The Newcomes:
- I allow, with Mrs. Grundy and most moralists, that Miss Newcome's conduct […] was highly reprehensible.
- 2000, Martin, George R[aymond] R[ichard], A Storm of Swords, Bantam, published 2011, page 154:
- Half the night passed before the wench allowed that it might be safe to stop.
- (transitive) To grant (something) as a deduction or an addition; especially to abate or deduct.
- To allow a sum for leakage.
- (transitive) To take into account by making an allowance.
- When calculating a budget for a construction project, always allow for contingencies.
- (transitive) To render physically possible.
- 1824, Irving, Washington, “The Devil and Tom Walker”, in Tales of a Traveller:
- The inlet allowed a facility to bring the money in a boat secretly and at night to the very foot of the hill.
- 2013 June 1, “Ideas coming down the track”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8838, page 13 (Technology Quarterly):
- A “moving platform” scheme […] is more technologically ambitious than maglev trains even though it relies on conventional rails. Local trains would use side-by-side rails to roll alongside intercity trains and allow passengers to switch trains by stepping through docking bays.
- (transitive, obsolete) To praise; to approve of; hence, to sanction.
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], →OCLC, Luke 11:48:
- Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers
- 1842, Thomas Fuller, Church History of Britain:
- We commend his pains, condemn his pride, allow his life, approve his learning.
- (obsolete) To sanction; to invest; to entrust.
- 1623, William Shakespeare, The Life of Timon of Athens:
- Therefore so please thee to return with us,
And of our Athens—thine and ours—to take
The captainship, thou shalt be met with thanks,
Allow'd with absolute power, and thy good name
Live with authority. So soon we shall drive back
Of Alcibiades the approaches wild,
Who, like a boar too savage, doth root up
His country's peace.
- (transitive, obsolete) To like; to be suited or pleased with.
- 1632, Massinger, Philip; Field, Nathan, The Fatal Dowry, act 4, scene 1:
- How allow you the model of these clothes?
- (law, transitive) To decide (a request) in favour of the party who raised it; to grant victory to a party regarding (a request).
- To allow an objection, to find in favour of the objection and forbid the conduct objected to; to allow an appeal, to decide the appeal in favour of the appellant (contrast grant leave to appeal, to permit an appeal to be heard).
Conjugation of allow
|present tense||past tense|
|2nd-person singular||allow, allowest†||allowed, allowedst†|
|3rd-person singular||allows, alloweth†||allowed|
- (let have): grant, admit, afford, yield, give, permit, allot, bestow, concede
- (grant license): permit, consent, let, concede
- (not bar or obstruct): tolerate, suffer, permit, admit, concede
to grant, give, admit, accord, afford, or yield; to let one have
to acknowledge; to accept as true; to concede; to accede to an opinion
to take into account as a deduction or an addition
to let something happen, to admit, to concede
to make allowance
to render physically possible
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
Translations to be checked
- “allow”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.