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[uh-fawrd, uh-fohrd] /əˈfɔrd, əˈfoʊrd/
verb (used with object)
to be able to do, manage, or bear without serious consequence or adverse effect:
The country can't afford another drought.
to be able to meet the expense of; have or be able to spare the price of:
Can we afford a trip to Europe this year? The city can easily afford to repair the street.
to be able to give or spare:
He can't afford the loss of a day.
to furnish; supply:
The transaction afforded him a good profit.
to be capable of yielding or providing:
The records afford no explanation.
to give or confer upon:
to afford great pleasure to someone.
Origin of afford
before 1050; Middle English aforthen, iforthen, Old English geforthian to further, accomplish, equivalent to ge- y- + forth forth + -ian infinitive suffix
Related forms
unafforded, adjective
Can be confused
accord, afford. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for afford
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But I am truly glad that my house has been able to afford you shelter when you were in need of it.

    Fernley House Laura E. Richards
  • Beecot could not afford to make enemies of the pair, and had no wish to do so.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • We cannot afford to put a bar across the 112 difficult road to happiness.

    The Affair at the Inn Kate Douglas Wiggin
  • They are stationary, and dinners are given on board to the Chinese who can afford them.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • I said I enjoyed them, and that as a matter of fact I hadn't been able to afford eggs for ages.

    The Secrets of a Kuttite Edward O. Mousley
British Dictionary definitions for afford


preceded by can, could, etc. to be able to do or spare something, esp without incurring financial difficulties or without risk of undesirable consequences: we can afford to buy a small house, I can afford to give you one of my chess sets, we can't afford to miss this play
to give, yield, or supply: the meeting afforded much useful information
Derived Forms
affordable, adjective
affordability, noun
Word Origin
Old English geforthian to further, promote, from forthforth; the Old English prefix ge- was later reduced to a-, and the modern spelling (C16) is influenced by words beginning aff-
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for afford

Old English geforðian "to put forth, contribute; further, advance; carry out, accomplish," from ge- completive prefix (see a- (1)) + forðian "to further," from forð "forward, onward" (see forth).

Change of -th- to -d- took place late 16c. (and also transformed burthen and murther into their modern forms). Prefix shift to af- took place 16c. under mistaken belief that it was a Latin word in ad-. Notion of "accomplish" (late Old English) gradually became "manage to buy or maintain; have enough money (to do something)" (1833). Older sense is preserved in afford (one) an opportunity. Related: Afforded; affording.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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