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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 + way1
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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Such a contrivance helps to improve the leeway of so shallow a boat, although not proportionately to the area immersed.

    Yachting Vol. 2 Various.
  • "She's makin' leeway the best I can do," came back from Skipper Zeb.

    Left on the Labrador Dillon Wallace
  • Still, we've plenty left, and the eggs are coming in better now, though we've a deal of leeway to make up yet in that line.

    Love Among the Chickens P. G. Wodehouse
  • The plan of the scale is such as to warrant this amount of leeway.

    The Measurement of Intelligence Lewis Madison Terman
  • It was nearly midnight; she had three hours left, three hours leeway before the return of her persecutor.

    The Bandbox Louis Joseph Vance
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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