verb (used with object)
- to give permission to or for; permit: to allow a student to be absent; No swimming allowed.
- to let have; give as one’s share; grant as one’s right: to allow a person $100 for expenses.
- to permit by neglect, oversight, or the like: to allow a door to remain open.
- to admit; acknowledge; concede: to allow a claim.
- to take into consideration, as by adding or subtracting; set apart: to allow an hour for changing trains.
- Older Use. to say; think.
- Archaic. to approve; sanction.
verb (used without object)
- to permit something to happen or to exist; admit (often followed by of): to spend more than one’s budget allows; a premise that allows of only one conclusion.
- allow for, to make concession or provision for: to allow for breakage.
- (tr) to permit (to do something); let
- (tr) to set asidefive hours were allowed to do the job
- (tr) to let enter or staythey don’t allow dogs
- (tr) to acknowledge or concede (a point, claim, etc)
- (tr) to let have; granthe was allowed few visitors
- (intr foll by for) to take into accountallow for delays
- (intr often foll by of) to permit; admita question that allows of only one reply
- (tr; may take a clause as object) US dialect to assert; maintain
- (tr) archaic to approve; accept
early 14c., allouen, “to commend, praise; approve of, be pleased with; appreciate the value of;” also, “take into account or give credit for,” also, in law and philosophy, “recognize, admit as valid” (a privilege, an excuse, a statement, etc.). From late 14c. as “sanction or permit; condone;” in business use from early 15c.
The Middle English word is from Anglo-French alouer, Old French aloer, alloiier (13c.) “allot, apportion, bestow, assign,” from Latin allocare (see allocate). This word in Old French was confused and ultimately merged with aloer; alloer “to praise, commend,” from Latin allaudare, adlaudare, compound of ad- “to” (see ad-) + laudare “to praise” (see laud). From the first word came the sense preserved in allowance as “money granted;” from the second came its meaning “permission based on approval.”
Between the two primary significations there naturally arose a variety of uses blending them in the general idea of assign with approval, grant, concede a thing claimed or urged, admit a thing offered, permit, etc., etc. [OED].
Related: Allowed; allowing.
Leave room for, permit, as in We have enough chairs to allow for forty extra guests, or Our denomination allows for a large variety of beliefs. [Early 1700s] Also see make allowance.