Definition of afford in English:



[with object]
  • 1can/could affordHave enough money to pay for.

    ‘the best that I could afford was a first-floor room’
    with infinitive ‘we could never have afforded to heat the place’
    • ‘I didn't have any money and couldn't afford a computer, so I wrote it on index cards.’
    • ‘If I lost my job, I couldn't afford to go to university, I couldn't afford to live in London and I'd have to stop being as active in my support of freedom.’
    • ‘They took Catholic girls who weren't smart enough for Notre Dame High, or who couldn't afford the fees and uniform.’
    • ‘They couldn't afford to buy enough wine for the whole party, so they didn't buy any at all.’
    • ‘We pay for the link, we pay for the computational mills, but corporations put money in too and it's got to the point where we couldn't afford to buy enough computation on our own anymore.’
    • ‘A member of the Law Society rose to speak about his tireless work to create some form of legal aid for those who couldn't afford to hire a lawyer to defend themselves.’
    • ‘They couldn't afford the repayments and they couldn't afford to sell.’
    • ‘A report said that poorer people couldn't afford healthy food and couldn't afford exercise. Can't the reporters conceive of exercise outside a gym?’
    • ‘I couldn't afford to pay my tuition, I couldn't afford my rent, and I could barely scrounge up enough money to buy food.’
    • ‘What can you afford to do now that you couldn't afford to do before?’
    • ‘I couldn't afford to pay €45 a week out of the money I get.’
    • ‘Some of my friends have been giving money but I couldn't afford it because I've just bought my own place.’
    • ‘The airline company explained it had run out of money and couldn't afford severance payments.’
    • ‘Inside the room was an electric guitar, something Conor couldn't afford, but something the club was willing to loan him for performances.’
    • ‘Most of the students were young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who couldn't afford to go to school because they had to earn money for their families by working on the streets.’
    • ‘When we arrived in Atlanta, we couldn't afford a room at the Marriott.’
    • ‘It seemed that they couldn't afford to spend enough on maintenance.’
    • ‘At first I couldn't afford to pay real models, but now I have about 15 pals who pose for me.’
    • ‘But this time he had run out of money ‘I couldn't afford it any more and I had to leave,’ he said.’
    • ‘Architect Stephen Atkinson wanted a built-in bookcase in his condo living room, but he couldn't afford the $3,000 price tag.’
    pay for, bear the expense of, meet the expense of, spare the price of, have the money for, be rich enough for, have the wherewithal for
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Have (a resource such as money or time) available or to spare.
      ‘it was taking up more time than he could afford’
      • ‘The most common excuse I hear is "I can't afford the time to document poor performance. I have a business to run."’
      • ‘Often as homeschoolers, we might think we can't afford the time it takes to get enough sleep or take a walk everyday.’
      • ‘He had no time to spare and couldn't afford to fly by the target.’
      • ‘Each colony had to get along as best as it could, and they couldn't afford the time or energy to set up a formal bureaucracy.’
      • ‘Checking it out took three hours we couldn't afford to spare.’
      • ‘All of our family is busy with children and can't afford the time or the patience to temporarily move in with him.’
      • ‘All the houses have been snapping up as much of the available talent as they feel they can afford.’
      • ‘The success of venture investment funds over the past decade has meant they simply can't afford the effort to invest in small amounts.’
      • ‘If your resources are precious, then you cannot afford for there to be anything in the program that the programmer does not understand.’
      • ‘I could not afford to spend a lot of resources, or hardly anything, on an allegation of the sort of thing that you have just been talking about.’
      • ‘Given the size of the company, we cannot afford to make these services available internally.’
      • ‘Most enterprises and home users can't afford the effort to secure all the systems individually.’
      • ‘Britain has so many celebrities that we can afford to spare a few.’
      • ‘Working on the grant was time consuming and we felt that we couldn’t afford the effort two years in a row.’
      • ‘I didn't have time to spare, and couldn't afford to be stalled.’
      • ‘I tried to wiggle my way out of it in every way I could: I couldn’t afford the time, I couldn’t afford to be away from my work, I had already been spending too much time away from home…and the list went on.’
    2. 1.2with infinitive Be able to do something without risk of adverse consequences.
      ‘only aristocrats could afford to stoop to such practices’
      • ‘Standing at the heart of the village and next to the busy road, it was a risk the parish council could not afford to take.’
      • ‘It is an unhappy book, and consequently I could not afford to submit to the temptation of the florid and extraneous.’
      • ‘That's a risk progressive parties cannot afford to take again.’
      • ‘It was a risk because Australia could not afford to give away easy runs.’
      • ‘It wasn't that she couldn't defeat them but that she couldn't afford to draw attention and risk losing her prey.’
      • ‘The company couldn't afford to risk doing anything radical to a car responsible for 60% of its sales.’
      • ‘Publishers could afford to take the risk and the small publishers still do.’
      • ‘No publishing house of our size had ever won the prize and we consequently couldn't afford to go in there with high expectations.’
      • ‘While you're out of work, you can't afford to take risks with your money.’
      • ‘He hoped money would be able to settle the problem because he really couldn't afford to be expelled in his last year.’
      • ‘If, for example, you begin investing in your twenties or thirties, you can afford to take more risk.’
      • ‘Jobs are not easy to come by and if you have a mortgage and a family to support, you cannot afford to take many risks.’
      • ‘It is not an institution with which a prime minister can afford to take risks.’
      • ‘He said: ‘I'd love to be able to bring in a ban but I just couldn't afford to.’’
      • ‘I finally broke the silence with the sound of a shattered dream, saying that I couldn't afford to take a risk with my young family and all.’
      • ‘It would be troublesome to eat with the sash covering her mouth, but it was possible to do so, and she couldn't afford to risk any of the boys seeing her face.’
      • ‘Without an income, you can't afford to take risks with your capital.’
      • ‘It recognizes we cannot afford to avoid all risk, but rather must manage the critical risks.’
      • ‘As I said, we feel we could not afford to take that level of risk.’
      • ‘But however remote or near these scenarios might be, we cannot afford to take the risk of not being prepared.’
      bear, sustain, stand, carry
      View synonyms
  • 2Provide or supply (an opportunity or facility)

    ‘the rooftop terrace affords beautiful views’
    with two objects ‘they were afforded the luxury of bed and breakfast’
    • ‘The ability and the talents of youth must be brought to light by affording them the needed facilities.’
    • ‘We have also worked very hard at keeping our staff by affording them opportunities to progress through the ranks.’
    • ‘But a day at the races affords the perfect opportunity to indulge in a frivolous piece of fun fashion.’
    • ‘The club affords the opportunity to people of all ages, male and female, to take up this healthy sport.’
    • ‘The online archive affords opportunity to research other characters from the play.’
    • ‘On the contrary, it affords new opportunities for understanding and living with the past.’
    • ‘We knew deep down that we were a good team and this game afforded us the opportunity to prove it.’
    • ‘I have a job that affords me the luxury of bringing my children with me to work.’
    • ‘With its combination of images and sound, it affords the greatest opportunity to influence people.’
    • ‘Such a break gives each a little holiday from the other and affords the chance to recharge their batteries to face the challenges ahead.’
    • ‘I need a new and positive mental outlook, and the new year affords an opportunity to put that into practice.’
    • ‘We had an agreement that if he thought the cloud cover was too low to afford a decent chance then he would not show up at my door.’
    • ‘Each route affords opportunities to see and buy from artists of all disciplines.’
    • ‘It affords opportunities to solve problems and demonstrate the concern of the care team.’
    • ‘Gardening affords these people the opportunity to use their creative skills.’
    • ‘Fining over the top of the wrecks and around the hull affords a great opportunity to grasp the size of the ships.’
    • ‘Such an unhurried environment affords me the opportunity to reflect more.’
    • ‘A roof-top bar affords superb views, and there are several other more traditional drinking places.’
    • ‘There is a shaded area at the top of a hill nearby that affords a good view, is quiet and is very pleasant.’
    • ‘It covers two levels and affords spectacular views from its upper floor.’
    provide, supply, present, purvey, make available, offer, give, impart, bestow, furnish, render, grant, yield, produce, bear
    View synonyms


Late Old English geforthian, from ge- (prefix implying completeness) + forthian ‘to further’, from forth. The original sense was ‘promote, perform, accomplish’, later ‘manage, be in a position to do’.