leeway

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
  1. noun
    a permissible difference; allowing some freedom to move within limits
    synonyms: allowance, margin, tolerance
    see moresee less
    type of:
    disagreement, discrepancy, divergence, variance
    a difference between conflicting facts or claims or opinions
  2. noun
    (of a ship or plane) sideways drift
    see moresee less
    type of:
    drift
    the gradual departure from an intended course due to external influences (as a ship or plane)
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week