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[lee-wey] /ˈliˌweɪ/

extra time, space, materials, or the like, within which to operate; margin:
With ten minutes’ leeway we can catch the train.
a degree of freedom of action or thought:
His instructions gave us plenty of leeway.
Also called sag. Nautical. the amount or angle of the drift of a ship to leeward from its heading.
Aeronautics. the amount a plane is blown off its normal course by cross winds.
room for free movement within limits, as in action or expenditure
sideways drift of a boat or aircraft

1660s, sideways drift of a ship caused by wind, from lee + way. Figurative meaning “extra space” is by 1835.


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