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.
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.
Contemporary Examples

We do ourselves an injustice if we allow someone else to define King only in his or her image.
We Need MLK’s Revolutionary Spirit Roland S. Martin January 19, 2014

By giving brief but meaningful homework, teachers can allow enjoyment to replace efficiency as a guiding value for students.
College Kids Should Major in Leisure Nick Romeo May 22, 2014

Only then, Santorum would later say, did it become “a pretty easy call” to induce labor and allow the pregnancy to lapse.
Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum’s Activist First Lady, Karen Eleanor Clift January 4, 2012

While visiting the artist, the curators candidly asked Johns to allow MoMA to debut his newest, and then unfinished, collection.
Jasper Johns: The Secrets of a Master at Work Justin Jones March 14, 2014

You bet, but it would also allow them to offer an alternative to dramas and American Idol in January.
NBC, You’ve Blown It Again! Jace Lacob October 25, 2010

Historical Examples

She did not allow him to finish; she said hastily that she must witness the contest.
The Blue Wall Richard Washburn Child

He worships every handsome woman, who will allow herself to be polluted by his incense.
Philothea Lydia Maria Child

Mr. Erle, if you will allow me, I should like to take the child home.
Wee Wifie Rosa Nouchette Carey

Accept them for a dowry; and allow me to claim one privilege in return.
Philothea Lydia Maria Child

I shall not allow my liberty to be taken away, or restricted, by you.
The Man Bram Stoker

(transitive) to permit (to do something); let
(transitive) to set aside: five hours were allowed to do the job
(transitive) to let enter or stay: they don’t allow dogs
(transitive) to acknowledge or concede (a point, claim, etc)
(transitive) to let have; grant: he was allowed few visitors
(intransitive) foll by for. to take into account: allow for delays
(intransitive) often foll by of. to permit; admit: a question that allows of only one reply
(transitive; may take a clause as object) (US, dialect) to assert; maintain
(transitive) (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.


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