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[lee-wey] /ˈliˌweɪ/
extra time, space, materials, or the like, within which to operate; margin:
With ten minutes' leeway we can catch the train.
a degree of freedom of action or thought:
His instructions gave us plenty of leeway.
Also called sag. Nautical. the amount or angle of the drift of a ship to leeward from its heading.
Aeronautics. the amount a plane is blown off its normal course by cross winds.
Origin of leeway
1660-70; lee1 + way
2. latitude, flexibility, cushion. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for leeway
  • Colleges and universities may have more leeway to interpret federal privacy law than their officials know.
  • Apple has a good amount of leeway to introduce in-house computer chips to its ecosystem.
  • But the government has a lot of leeway to screw it up.
  • Soldiers typically don't have much sartorial leeway.
  • People with a good track record have more leeway than authors of first books.
  • Apple says it will give publishers more leeway to set e-book prices.
  • Give writers more incentive and leeway to shill for the commercial sugar daddies without sacrificing narrative.
  • Restrictions are tighter on larger planes, while there is more leeway for regional jets and turboprops.
  • But his bitter and suspicious party colleagues are not giving him such leeway.
  • It gives you that split second of leeway to flow into a better position if you catch yourself going wrong.
British Dictionary definitions for leeway


room for free movement within limits, as in action or expenditure
sideways drift of a boat or aircraft
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 leeway

1660s, sideways drift of a ship caused by wind, from lee + way. Figurative meaning "extra space" is by 1835.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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