Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

allow - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb [transitive]     allow pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
present tense
present participleallowing
past tenseallowed
past participleallowed
  1. 1
    to give someone permission to do or have something

    I’m sorry, sir, but smoking is not allowed.

    allow someone to do something:

    She only allows the children to watch television on the weekends.

    I’m not allowed to drive my dad’s car.

    allow someone something:

    Some prisoners are allowed visitors.

    allow yourself something:

    I’m on a diet but I allow myself an occasional piece of cake.

    allow someone in/back/through etc.:

    If you leave the club, you will not be allowed back in.

  2. 2
    to give someone or something the time or opportunity to do something
    allow something to do something:

    Allow the cake to cool for five minutes before taking it out of the pan.

    allow someone to do something:

    Unfortunately, they didn’t allow me to explain the thinking behind my decision.

    1. a.
      if something such as an object or situation allows you to do something, it makes it possible for you to do it
      allow someone to do something:

      DVD allows you to record programs and watch them later.

  3. 3
    to make certain that you have enough of something such as time, food, or money for a particular purpose

    Please allow 28 days for delivery.

    How much rice do you allow for each person?

  4. 4
    legal to decide that a piece of information is acceptable in a court of law

    This evidence will not be allowed in court.

  5. 5
    formal to admit or accept that something is true
    allow that:

    She allowed that the matter was serious.

phrasal verbs

  • Facebook
  • Twitter


to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play