Leeway is a term used to describe the amount of freedom available. If you know you have a paper due on Monday, you might ask your teachers if there is any leeway––could you, say, bring it first thing Tuesday morning?

Leeway is a nautical term, referring to a vessel's drift to the lee, (nautical for "downwind"). Now, it is very useful in describing those gray areas in life––for example, everyone has a ten-minute leeway when meeting friends where you're not officially late, even if you're not actually on time.

Definitions of leeway

n a permissible difference; allowing some freedom to move within limits

allowance, margin, tolerance
Type of:
disagreement, discrepancy, divergence, variance
a difference between conflicting facts or claims or opinions

n (of a ship or plane) sideways drift

Type of:
the gradual departure from an intended course due to external influences (as a ship or plane)

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