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.

1615–25; variant of earlier furlogh, furloff < Dutch verlof leave, permission; current pronunciation by association with dough, etc.

prefurlough, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
furlough (ˈfɜːləʊ)
1.  leave of absence from military duty
2.  (US) a temporary laying-off of employees, usually because there is insufficient work to occupy them
3.  to grant a furlough to
4.  (US) to lay off (staff) temporarily
[C17: from Dutch verlof, from ver-for- + lof leave, permission; related to Swedish förlof]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1620s, from Du. verlof, lit. "permission," from M.Du. 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 in English. The verb is from 1783. Related: Furloughed; furloughing.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Government offices are closed on some days, as state workers take involuntary
  and unpaid furloughs.
Dollar figures do not reflect all pay reductions caused by unpaid furloughs
  attributed to the recession.
If salary reductions are not possible, use furloughs for staff members and
  full-time faculty members.
It puts a human face on furloughs and it's wonderful to see the amazing things
  people do for each other in times of crisis.
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