Definition of leeway in English:



mass noun
  • 1The amount of freedom to move or act that is available.

    ‘the government had greater leeway to introduce reforms’
    • ‘The deal is also expected to further erode job classifications and shop floor protections, and grant the auto companies substantial leeway in moving workers from job to job and plant to plant.’
    • ‘A landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision last month giving judges more leeway in deciding federal prison terms could be good news for computer intruders who don't fit the classic criminal mold, legal experts say.’
    • ‘And I think the press is at least giving them leeway now to make those moves.’
    • ‘Typically, I provide independent films an amount of leeway when it comes to video and audio quality, but this movie needs no such special consideration.’
    • ‘The incident outraged the international press and eventually forced Soviet officials to give leeway to the independent artists.’
    • ‘‘Besides, the hectic academic schedule does not provide them any leeway,’ he says.’
    • ‘Our readers have a fair amount of leeway in choosing where they earn those frequent-traveler points.’
    • ‘Elsewhere, however, or in fur and jewelry boutiques that lease space in department stores, salespeople working on commission are often allowed leeway to move merchandise, he said.’
    • ‘We did allow some leeway, some flexibility, if experience overrode not having a high school diploma.’
    • ‘Given great leeway in implementing welfare reform, the states were as insatiable as the federal government in crafting rules designed to cut welfare caseloads.’
    • ‘Only last autumn, the new 12A category was introduced to give parents more leeway and say in their children's cinema viewing.’
    • ‘Losing some staff who have been convicted for serious offences is a good thing but there seems to be no leeway.’
    • ‘Because of it she had been given more freedom and leeway then other daughters of kings.’
    • ‘Certainly, the government deserves a significant amount of leeway when it comes to endorsing the current administration.’
    • ‘A common (but not universal) view in Asia of how aid should be managed is to allow benefactor nations leeway to implement their own reforms.’
    • ‘But the market's freedom gives veterinarians leeway in pricing, which some pet owners find objectionable.’
    • ‘Speaking to the Sligo Weekender, Mayor Devins said the Minister had given the Council a certain amount of leeway.’
    • ‘The justices refused to backtrack from a 5-4 decision that struck down a state sentencing system because it gave judges too much leeway in sentencing.’
    • ‘It is not clear what leeway the Court will grant Congress to interpret and enforce constitutional rights.’
    • ‘Though there is more duty on importing cars, the government has given leeway to people intending to invest in vehicle assembly plants, so that instead of importing vehicles they can be obtained locally.’
    freedom, scope, room to manoeuvre, latitude, elbow room, slack, space, room, liberty, room to spare, room to operate, scope for initiative, freedom of action, freedom from restriction, a free hand, flexibility, independence, licence, self-determination, free rein, free play, unrestrictedness, indulgence, margin, play, give, laxity, leisure
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Margin of safety.
      ‘there is little leeway if anything goes wrong’
      • ‘Up here in the still vastness there is no margin for error, no wiggle room, no leeway between getting it right and dying.’
  • 2The sideways drift of a ship to leeward of the desired course.

    ‘the leeway is only about 2°’


  • make up (the) leeway

    • Struggle out of a bad position, especially by recovering lost time.

      ‘he never made up the leeway and was five lengths down at the finish’
      • ‘The Bulls will know their fate in the fourth round draw next week, when the 12 Super League clubs enter the fray, but Caisley said: ‘We have made up the leeway and we should be OK.’’
      • ‘It has to make up the leeway elsewhere through its legendary cost-cutting programmes.’
      • ‘Meldrum trailed Shamash by five shots after an opening 83 but just failed to make up the leeway with a 73.’
      • ‘The Danehill Dancer filly quickly made up the leeway under Michael Hills to challenge with two of the seven furlongs to go.’
      • ‘However, Sampower Star forfeited ground by drifting across the track towards Pipalong and could not make up the leeway.’
      • ‘Playing against the wind now, the Bulldogs faced a ferocious assault by the visitors, determined to make up the leeway.’
      • ‘The Larries resumed well with a goal from Conor Day but Paul Concannon got through for a goal for Confey and despite scores from the impressive Sen Fahy, Shane O'Neill, Karl O'Brien and Owen Corrigan, they couldn't make up the leeway.’