Definition of allowance in US English:



  • 1The amount of something that is permitted, especially within a set of regulations or for a specified purpose.

    ‘a seventy-five-pound baggage allowance’
    • ‘She travels with her baggage allowance of 70 pounds.’
    • ‘Thanks to a food-rationing programme that began in the late 1990s, almost all families receive a monthly allowance of rice, cooking oil, salt, sugar and other basics.’
    • ‘This or the reduction in handicap allowance may have had something to do with the winning scores this year being not so good as last year's 105 points.’
    • ‘Seat dimensions should be explored considering passenger health, size, and allowance for seat-space reductions when the seat in front is reclined.’
    • ‘Of course on checking in my friend was told that he had excess baggage; the allowance was 27 Kilos and he had 37 Kilos - did he not check his ticket?’
    • ‘Although companies will be given allowances based on their energy consumption, the emission permits will have a financial value and will have to be treated as a balance sheet item.’
    • ‘The Weight Watchers diet gives slimmers a point system for food and drink, allowing them to eat what they like as long as it is within their daily allowance.’
    • ‘Since they were competing in all the matches at Winter Range, they had shipped their clothing so they could use all their baggage allowance for gun cases.’
    • ‘Earlier that day, Pops had revealed that the big man had guzzled eighteen RC Colas, the maximum weekly allowance, within a few hours.’
    • ‘Consequently, the ability of pregnant sows in stalls to get up and lie down could be improved by increasing the space allowance within the stall.’
    • ‘The system is supposed to force companies that exceed their national emission allocations to buy extra allowances from more efficient companies or face fines.’
    • ‘Stitch again within the seam allowances, or serge or zigzag the raw edges.’
    • ‘Due to settlement concerns, foundation load tests were run to ensure that final geometries were within the specified allowance.’
    • ‘So your submission was directed at the specificity of a percentile discount rather than the entitlement of some allowance in the reduction of the punitive sentence?’
    • ‘Baggage allowance is 64 kg in two bags, with one small carry-on bag allowed.’
    • ‘For instance, a fine of €100 will be imposed on each of the next 10 drinks in excess of the weekly allowance.’
    • ‘I do have a lens that big, but with airline baggage allowances to contend with, I had decided to leave it at home.’
    • ‘In attempting to prise control away from the previous power brokers for four years, the owner of the chain of convenience stores used up his allowance of good publicity.’
    • ‘Space allowances should permit natural movement and exercise, and the environment should allow animals to perform instinctive behaviours, such as rooting by pigs.’
    • ‘As a result, time allowance for writing is ensured, which contributes to reduction of software processing load by an external device.’
    1. 1.1 A sum of money paid regularly to a person, typically to meet specified needs or expenses.
      • ‘Volunteers can claim expenses such as mileage or bus fares, and anyone who works a five-hour stint receives a lunch allowance.’
      • ‘My husband gives me an allowance for my own expenses.’
      • ‘The review panel also wants mobile phone call allowances to be limited to £5 per month.’
      • ‘Then figure out which items you will continue to be responsible for and which expenses you want the allowance to cover.’
      • ‘It is likely that the IRS may find issues of concern in the area of taxable fringe benefits, particularly automobile allowances and relocation expenses.’
      • ‘Because any unused portion of a housing allowance is lost, an employee has no incentive to try to bid down the cost of their accommodation.’
      • ‘The daily allowance for meals and travel within five miles of Westminster will rise from £64 to £75.’
      • ‘Her salary and benefits, excluding expense allowance, were $502,000.’
      • ‘Entitlements range from parliamentary salaries down to a variety of allowances like the printing allowance.’
      • ‘I have also noted that North Yorkshire councillors are about to pay themselves large allowances plus amounts for child care and dependents.’
      • ‘This money is not part of their base pay - it is an allowance for a specific purpose.’
      • ‘Lay magistrates are not paid for carrying out their duties, but may claim allowances, within specified limits, for travelling, subsistence and financial loss.’
      • ‘However, StudyLink requires full-time students to complete their courses within 19 weeks to qualify for a student allowance.’
      • ‘Singh said travel allowance, book grants and other allowances were also increased and a three per cent regional allowance was added.’
      • ‘Opposition parties yesterday hit out at the Government's decision to limit the back-to-work allowance to those who have been unemployed for five years.’
      • ‘They will be given £10 weekly living allowances, and free full board accommodation for a maximum of three months, while the Government helps them to find jobs.’
      • ‘Councillors are our direct conduits to the corridors of power in Bradford and district, and we should make every effort to use them to our advantage and to make them earn their allowances.’
      • ‘Councillors there were paid higher than permitted allowances.’
      • ‘They were making small fortunes through allowances and overtime pay.’
      • ‘City of York Council members receive a basic allowance together with payments which reflect the special responsibilities of the individual member.’
    2. 1.2North American A small amount of money that a parent regularly gives a child.
      • ‘My parents don't really give us an allowance, but they let us have however much we want as long as we promise to pay them back.’
      • ‘My parents taught me to save the coins of my allowance.’
      • ‘To develop a workable budget with your child, have her divide the total amount of the allowance into three categories: spending, savings, and giving.’
      • ‘Regardless of how much you give, it's a good idea to regularly disperse the allowance and increase the amount as the child gets older.’
      • ‘Sue, who lives in Fallowfield, receives a student loan and an allowance from her parents, who also pay for her accommodation.’
      • ‘Neither school will say exactly how much it is paying, but you can bet the price is lower than a 12-year-old's allowance.’
      • ‘His parents give him an allowance for anything that he may need, but he says that he does not need all that much.’
      • ‘In a surprising reversal of roles, a third of the children even give their parents a regular allowance!’
      • ‘She threatened me that if I don't eat my lunch, I won't get any allowance from my parents.’
      • ‘So if your parents ever offer you an allowance of a penny on the first of the month, two pennies on the second, four pennies on the third, and so on, you should definitely take them up on it!’
      • ‘My parents started giving me an allowance, and they said that if I were to go out to the movies or buy Ana anything, I would have to start working for the money.’
      • ‘Parents would transfer allowance money to their child's credit card.’
      • ‘Ally, I was pretty sure, spent most of her money on clothes and other pointless things, though she got a monthly allowance from her parents.’
      • ‘And in turn, her parents gave her an ultimatum: no extra allowances, and no extra money from them.’
      • ‘It's as if you are a teenager cussing out your parents before demanding your allowance and the keys to the car.’
      • ‘That magic that made me save my allowance to buy action figures or role-play as Han Solo on the playground isn't there.’
      • ‘For example, parents use allowances or dessert to encourage their children to make their beds or eat their dinners.’
      • ‘Since back to school time is rapidly approaching, here are answers to the four most common questions we get from parents about allowances.’
      • ‘Jack didn't necessarily want all of that, but he wasn't going to turn down the money his parents gave him in allowance before they ran off to some other meeting or spa.’
    3. 1.3 An amount of money that can be earned or received free of tax.
      ‘a personal allowance’
      • ‘Higher personal allowances are given to people aged 65 and over and 75 and over.’
      • ‘Can you tell me when a person aged 75 is given an extra allowance for tax purposes?’
      • ‘For individuals, the flat rate tax is levied on all wages, salaries or pensions, less a personal allowance.’
      • ‘The only concession is that they are entitled to keep their personal allowance.’
      • ‘The huge amounts that this would bring in would allow the personal allowance to be raised by a couple of thousand, helping those on low and medium incomes.’
      • ‘But those claimed benefits would materialise only if the tax rate were set low enough and personal allowances set high enough.’
      • ‘Although everyone would benefit from an increase in personal allowances, it would lift 10 million out of income tax altogether.’
      • ‘Children all have their own personal allowances, which mean they can earn £4,385 a year before paying any tax.’
      • ‘The wives have got some income to mop up personal allowances and lower tax rates, instead of the income all being taxed on Fred and Jim at 40%.’
      • ‘Personal allowances and thresholds will probably be indexed, sucking more people into higher-rate tax as wages rise faster than prices.’
      • ‘As long as the total amount of interest falls within the allowance, then no tax will be payable.’
      • ‘Everyone has a personal allowance for income tax of £4,895 but if you are working or drawing a pension you are likely to have already used this up.’
      • ‘Personal allowances rise in line with inflation not earnings, so 3.6 million people will pay 40% tax from April.’
      • ‘Duty free allowances are to increase from £140 per person to £1,000.’
      • ‘Given the very small increases in personal allowances, will most people in Scotland end up paying more or less tax?’
      • ‘Simplifying income tax is an idea with wide appeal, and by abolishing special reliefs you could raise personal allowances sharply, taking low incomes out of tax altogether.’
      • ‘Everyone is entitled to a personal allowance - the amount you can earn before tax is due - from the day they are born.’
      • ‘It is not, for example, going to point out that you could top up your pension to take advantage of the tax breaks, or transfer some savings into your spouse's name to soak up their personal allowance.’
      • ‘Apart from a personal allowance, all other exemptions are abolished.’
      • ‘Tax individualisation means that we both have separate tax free allowances (now called tax credits) and separate income rate bands.’
      concession, reduction, decrease, deduction, discount, weighting, rebate, refund, repayment
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 A reduction in price, typically for the exchange of used goods.
      ‘he made the down payment with the trade-in allowance’
      • ‘Under the scheme, buyers may choose an additional €400 trade-in allowance or a discount of that amount for buyers without a trade-in.’
      • ‘Their loss is calculated on the basis that it was paid the agreed price without any deduction for the 18% allowance.’
      • ‘PriceThis refers to the money that customers have to pay for the product, such as a wholesale price or retail price, allowance and credit terms.’
      • ‘It sets out a calculation of the total sales price and then details the value of the part exchanged car and the Purchase Plus allowance.’
    5. 1.5Horse racing A deduction in the weight that a horse is required to carry in a race.
      • ‘She then suffered a bout with colic and did not race until returning in a seven-furlong allowance at Saratoga Race Course on August 23, which she won by six lengths.’
      • ‘He is winless in seven starts since a pair of victories, a maiden special weight race and an allowance race, in February at Gulfstream Park.’
      • ‘To help young jockeys get a foothold in the sport, those under 26 can claim a weight allowance in certain races (they are known as apprentice jockeys).’
      • ‘In her outing prior to the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship, she finished fourth in an allowance / optional claiming race at Laurel.’
      • ‘Kiss a Native won the Victoria Park Stakes and an allowance at Woodbine Race Course in his last two starts.’
    6. 1.6archaic Tolerance; sufferance.
      ‘the allowance of slavery in the South’
      • ‘There needs to be systemic allowance for the fact that getting regulated prices ‘right’ is very hard.’
      • ‘Henceforth such a monopolist must charge the same price (with due allowance for cost differences).’
      • ‘A planning application is invalid if there is no site notice, if it is not in place for five weeks or if it is not clearly legible from the public road, with some allowance for deliberate vandalising or removal of notices.’
      • ‘There needs to be a balance between control and the allowance of some flexibility within the market.’
      • ‘But at least when I looked I couldn't find any allowance for the vastly greater economic value of the accretion of knowhow that is each generation's free gift to the next.’


[with object]archaic
  • Give (someone) a sum of money regularly as an allowance.

    • ‘The Contract Management System calculates reimbursement for managed care contracts and then calculates whether the payers paid correctly and whether the allowancing is correct.’
    • ‘She spoke of getting travel allowanced but this depended on the social worker who had been assigned and they are not allowed leave their accommodation for more than three days.’
    • ‘You can go over your allowanced amounts, but you are expected to pay these overages directly to the supplier.’


  • make allowance (or allowances) for

    • 1Take into consideration when planning or making calculations.

      ‘a special circuit makes allowances for changes in the ambient temperature’
      • ‘Thus, the rate of compensation made no allowance either for appreciation or for the landowner's purchase price.’
      • ‘He did not always make appropriate deductions from anticipated profits to make allowance for these factors.’
      • ‘The present budget did not make allowance for the increase of the present 43 councillors to 90 during the next elections, said Shepherd.’
      • ‘They should be protected, but the laws should also make allowance for the protection of birds at the feeder.’
      • ‘Any planet search that relies on transits must make allowance for the fact that transits, by their very nature, are rare events.’
      • ‘Keeping the shadow in the correct position, and making allowance for the movement of the sun through the day, a vehicle can be kept on a reasonably accurate bearing.’
      • ‘If nuclear waste storage proposals are being analysed, then it is necessary to make allowance for the very long half-life of some radioactive isotopes.’
      • ‘The residual method of valuation makes allowance for risk and uncertainty.’
      • ‘For the pretreatment phase, measurements need to be far enough apart to make allowance for the short term variability within and between days.’
      • ‘They made allowance for what could be realistically achieved in the time available and adjusted their expectations accordingly.’
      • ‘According to a report presented to the City council by Baskin, this figure includes shack settlements and makes allowance for 4,000 households to be relocated within the framework of the backyard shacks upgrading programme.’
      • ‘Such responsive approaches to prisoners' health needs that make allowance for prisoners' self care and personal responsibility for health issues are useful starting points for reducing pressure on prisons' health service budgets.’
      • ‘It is necessary to recognise the risk of error in adopting such a fact finding process, and to make allowance for it.’
      • ‘All home-care workers should be paid petrol costs and travel time between clients' homes, not just those workers lucky enough to work for providers who make allowance for that.’
      • ‘The standing orders for the Congress, which will be held over two days, makes allowance for the Strategic Review Committee chairman to give a 15-minute summary of the proposals at the start.’
      • ‘For Britain's part, it wanted to make a better job of colonisation than it had in other parts of the world, to make allowance for the rights of indigenous people in a way that it never had before.’
      • ‘The square will also make allowance for upwards of 600 hawker stalls, largely along its southern border, in and around the preserved first shops along Union Street.’
      • ‘It said that while making allowance for special and differential treatment for developing countries, moves should be initiated to eliminate all trade distorting subsidies.’
      • ‘They must make allowance for the possible presence of pedestrians, including children at play, unmarked objects and irregularities in the road surface, and the alignment of the roadway.’
      • ‘I think is a trivial assertion and it certainly not anything you should adjust your science to, to make allowance for.’
      take into consideration, take into account, bear in mind, keep in mind, not lose sight of, have regard to, provide for, plan for, make plans for, foresee, anticipate, get ready for, cater for, allow for, make provision for, make preparations for, prepare for, accommodate, make concessions for
      View synonyms
    • 2Regard or treat leniently on account of mitigating circumstances.

      ‘she liked them and made allowances for their faults’
      • ‘So too the common law makes allowance for the difficulties in the circumstances in which professional judgments have to be made and acted upon.’
      • ‘The church has made allowance for human evolution from a base of lower animals.’
      • ‘You might say that it's a true history of the subject, making allowance for its brevity and its focus on Lincoln's contemporary rather than on Lincoln himself.’
      • ‘Too often - even making allowance for the understandable pressure of short rehearsal time - performers fend for themselves.’
      • ‘It is simply not credible - even if we make allowance for stupidity - to make those outlandish claims in this House.’
      • ‘Secondly, make allowance for the fact that memory obviously fades, memories on all sides fade over a period of 20 years and as a result evidence of about certain aspects of the case may be vague and may be unspecific.’
      • ‘There is an emphasis on unity: Eadgar's codes make allowance for local custom, especially in the Danelaw, but insist that ‘the secular law shall stand in each folk as can best be established’.’
      • ‘This analysis makes allowance for any differences in school attainment, experience in the labor market, or being a native English-language speaker.’
      • ‘Do I make allowance for the technically primitive recording?’
      • ‘He can trust in himself when all men doubt him and, importantly, make allowance for their doubting too.’
      • ‘He assessed the whole damage at £1,600 and making allowance for the appellant's contributory negligence awarded £1,200 with minor special damage.’
      • ‘Sedition has been preached under our noses and we are supposed to make allowance for a faith that allows this.’
      • ‘That way they can make allowance for your short temper and sharp tongue.’
      • ‘They now trade at the equivalent of roughly 14 times their 100p flotation price in July 1997, after making allowance for new share issues.’
      • ‘Even making allowance for the many weaknesses on the visiting side, Wicklow could be more than happy with their overall display.’
      • ‘While the Committee made allowance for the fact that you had not been in clinical practice for two years at the time of the assessment, your scores in all areas remained far below the minimum expected of a registered medical practitioner.’
      • ‘Even making allowance for difficulties of recollection, we cannot regard the explanation of counsel for his failure to make an application to exclude evidence of the admission as adequate.’
      • ‘The court should be alert to make allowance for situations which make it impractical for a defendant to satisfy the burden of proof which the legislation places upon him.’
      • ‘The original trial judge made allowance for provocation when he sentenced them, but the appeal court said it was not enough.’
      • ‘Punters are aware of the Fringe's tight resources and make allowances for inconveniences such as badly designed ticket wallets and box office problems.’
      excuse, make excuses for, forgive, pardon, overlook, pass over, treat leniently, condone
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Old French alouance, from alouer (see allow).