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[fur-loh] /ˈfɜr loʊ/
Military. a vacation or leave of absence granted to an enlisted person.
a usually temporary layoff from work:
Many plant workers have been forced to go on furlough.
a temporary leave of absence authorized for a prisoner from a penitentiary.
verb (used with object)
to grant a furlough to.
to lay (an employee or worker) off from work, usually temporarily.
Origin of furlough
1615-25; variant of earlier furlogh, furloff < Dutch verlof leave, permission; current pronunciation by association with dough, etc.
Related forms
prefurlough, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for furlough
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Old man, if you ever get a furlough from business, you go down to Mount Vernon and revel in memories of the father of his country.

    Peck's Bad Boy Abroad George W. Peck
  • And Russia evacuated Masampo, while Pavloff was told that he might take a furlough.

    The Story of Russia R. Van Bergen, M.A.
  • Havin' told Old Hickory about it, though, I was on hand next mornin' with a whole day's furlough.

    The House of Torchy Sewell Ford
  • It is supposed that I am on a visit to —, and that you are on furlough for a few days.

    Japhet in Search of a Father Frederick Marryat
  • My notion is that you will not be likely to get the furlough so soon.

British Dictionary definitions for furlough


leave of absence from military duty
(US) a temporary laying-off of employees, usually because there is insufficient work to occupy them
verb (transitive)
to grant a furlough to
(US) to lay off (staff) temporarily
Word Origin
C17: from Dutch verlof, from ver-for- + lof leave, permission; related to Swedish förlof
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 furlough

1620s, vorloffe, from Dutch verlof, literally "permission," from Middle Dutch ver- "completely, for" + laf, lof "permission," which is related to the second element in believe and to leave (n.).

The -gh spelling developed by 1770s and represents an "f" that was once pronounced at the end of the word but disappeared fairly soon thereafter in English.


1783, from furlough (n.). Related: Furloughed; furloughing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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