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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.
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. 2014.
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Examples from the web for furloughs
  • 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.
  • There can be plenty of resentment, especially in a time of hiring freezes, furloughs and retrenchment.
  • The budget cuts such as furloughs should have been there from the beginning.
  • There's a dissonance between furloughs and layoffs for employees while chief executive compensation doubles.
  • State workers affected by the closures will take unpaid furloughs on those days.
  • Mandatory furloughs for specific city employees have been implemented to address the aforementioned fiscal challenges.
British Dictionary definitions for furloughs


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 furloughs



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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