from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To give permission or opportunity to; allow: I let them borrow the car. The inheritance let us finally buy a house. See Usage Note at leave1.
  • transitive v. To cause to; make: Let the news be known.
  • transitive v. Used as an auxiliary in the imperative to express a command, request, or proposal: Let's finish the job! Let x equal y.
  • transitive v. Used as an auxiliary in the imperative to express a warning or threat: Just let her try!
  • transitive v. To permit to enter, proceed, or depart: let the dog in.
  • transitive v. To release from or as if from confinement: let the air out of the balloon; let out a yelp.
  • transitive v. To rent or lease: let rooms.
  • transitive v. To award, especially after bids have been submitted: let the construction job to a new firm.
  • intransitive v. To become rented or leased.
  • intransitive v. To be or become assigned, as to a contractor.
  • let down To cause to come down gradually; lower: let down the sails.
  • let down To withdraw support from; forsake.
  • let down To fail to meet the expectations of; disappoint.
  • let on To allow to be known; admit: Don't let on that you know me.
  • let on To pretend.
  • let out To come to a close; end: School let out early. The play let out at 11 P.M.
  • let out To make known; reveal: Who let that story out?
  • let out To increase the size of (a garment, for example): let out a coat.
  • let up To slow down; diminish: didn't let up in their efforts.
  • let up To come to a stop; cease: The rain let up.
  • idiom let alone Not to mention; much less: "Their ancestors had been dirt poor and never saw royalty, let alone hung around with them” ( Garrison Keillor).
  • idiom let go To cease to employ; dismiss: had to let 20 workers go.
  • idiom let off on Informal To cause to diminish, as in pressure; ease up on: Let off on the gas so that we do not exceed the speed limit.
  • idiom let (one's) hair down To drop one's reserve or inhibitions.
  • idiom let (someone) have it Informal To beat, strike, or shoot at someone.
  • idiom let (someone) have it Informal To scold or punish.
  • idiom let (someone) in on To reveal (a secret) to someone: They finally let me in on their plans.
  • idiom let (someone) in on To allow someone to participate in (something).
  • idiom let up on To be or become more lenient with: Why don't you let up on the poor child?
  • n. Something that hinders; an obstacle: free to investigate without let or hindrance.
  • n. Sports An invalid stroke in tennis and other net games that requires a replay.
  • transitive v. Archaic To hinder or obstruct.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To hinder, prevent; to obstruct (someone or something).
  • v. To prevent or obstruct to do something, or that something happen.
  • n. An obstacle or hindrance.
  • n. The hindrance caused by the net during serve, only if the ball falls legally.
  • v. To allow to, not to prevent (+ infinitive, but usually without to).
  • v. To allow the release of (a fluid).
  • v. To allow possession of (a property etc.) in exchange for rent.
  • v. Used to introduce an imperative in the first or third person.
  • v. To cause (+ bare infinitive).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A retarding; hindrance; obstacle; impediment; delay; -- common in the phrase without let or hindrance, but elsewhere archaic.
  • n. A stroke in which a ball touches the top of the net in passing over.
  • intransitive v. To forbear.
  • intransitive v. To be let or leased. See note under Let, v. t.
  • transitive v. To retard; to hinder; to impede; to oppose.
  • transitive v. To leave; to relinquish; to abandon.
  • transitive v. To consider; to think; to esteem.
  • transitive v. To cause; to make; -- used with the infinitive in the active form but in the passive sense.
  • transitive v. To permit; to allow; to suffer; -- either affirmatively, by positive act, or negatively, by neglecting to restrain or prevent.
  • transitive v. To allow to be used or occupied for a compensation; to lease; to rent; to hire out; -- often with out
  • transitive v. To give, grant, or assign, as a work, privilege, or contract; -- often with out

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To permit or allow (to be or to do), either actively or passively; grant or afford liberty (to): followed by an infinitive without to: as, to let one do as he pleases; to let slip an opportunity.
  • Hence also much used as a kind of imperative auxiliary, with following infinitive, to form imperative first and third persons: as, let him be accursed (literally, allow him to be accursed); let them retire at once; let us pray; let me be listened to when I speak.
  • To furnish with leave or ability by direct action or agency; enable, cause, or make to do or to be: followed by an infinitive without to (except in the passive), or by a definitive adjective or adverb (with ellipsis of go, come, or get before the adverb): as, I will let you know my decision; let me understand your claim; to let a person in (come in or enter); to let a man out of prison.
  • To leave; allow to remain or abide; suffer to continue or proceed.
  • To leave the care or control of; commit or intrust; resign; relinquish; leave.
  • To leave or transfer the use of for a consideration; put to rent or hire; farm; lease: often with out: as, to let a house to a tenant; to let out boats or carriages for hire.
  • To cause: with an infinitive, without to, in a quasi-passive use (the original subject of the infinitive being omitted): as, to let make (cause to be made); to let call (cause to be called). It is sometimes joined with do, without change of meaning.
  • To allow or hold to be; regard; esteem.
  • Leave alone; do not trouble or meddle with.
  • To bring down; cause to be depressed or lowered.
  • In metal-working, to lower the temper of, as a tool or spring of steel which has been made flint-hard. The temper is reduced by heating, the attainment of the required degree of hardness being indicated by the color.
  • To allow to escape one, as an expression; utter carelessly or incidentally.
  • To pass by or disregard.
  • To take in; cheat; swindle; involve in something undesirable: as, he let me in for ten dollars.
  • To discharge with an explosion, as a fire-cracker.
  • To allow to escape, as a confined fluid or a secret.
  • To extend by lessening a seam or a tuck, as a garment or a sail.
  • To make narrower, as a seam; remove wholly or in part, as a tuck.
  • To allow to slip away or escape; suffer to be lost.
  • Synonyms Rent, Lease, etc. See hire.
  • To permit or allow something to be done, occur, etc.: in certain colloquial phrases. See below.
  • To be rented or leased: as, this house lets for so much a year.
  • To pretend; feign; affect: as, let on that you did not hear.
  • To strike out.
  • To be dismissed or concluded: as, school lets out at three.
  • Also used imperatively.
  • To delay; retard; hinder; prevent; stop.
  • To delay; hesitate; waver; be slow.
  • To forbear; cease; leave off.
  • To be a hindrance; stand in the way.
  • In cricket, to miss a chance of catching (a hatsman) out.
  • n. A letting for hire or rent.
  • n. A retarding; hindrance; obstacle; impediment; delay: now currently used only in the tautological phrase “without let or hindrance.”
  • n. A diminutive suffix, as in bracelet, hamlet, rivulet, etc., and other words from or based upon the French.
  • n. In lawn-tennis, hand-tennis, and other games played with a net, a service-ball which strikes the top of the net and then goes into the proper court; also, any unforeseen or accidental hindrance of a like nature which the umpire may on appeal so designate.
  • n. Abbreviations of Lettish.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. leave unchanged
  • v. make it possible through a specific action or lack of action for something to happen
  • v. consent to, give permission
  • n. a serve that strikes the net before falling into the receiver's court; the ball must be served again
  • v. grant use or occupation of under a term of contract
  • n. a brutal terrorist group active in Kashmir; fights against India with the goal of restoring Islamic rule of India
  • v. actively cause something to happen
  • v. cause to move; cause to be in a certain position or condition


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English leten, from Old English lǣtan.
Middle English lette, from letten, to hinder, from Old English lettan.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English leten, læten, from Old English lǣtan ("to allow, let go, bequeath, leave, rent"), from Proto-Germanic *lētanan (“to leave behind, allow”), from Proto-Indo-European *lēd- (“to let, leave behind”). Cognate with Scots lat, lete ("to let, leave"), North Frisian lete ("to let"), West Frisian litte ("to let"), Dutch laten ("to let, leave"), German lassen ("to let, leave, allow"), Swedish låta ("to let, allow, leave"), Icelandic láta ("to let"), Albanian  ("to allow, let, leave").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English letten ("to hinder, delay"), from Old English lettan ("to hinder, delay"; literally, "to make late"), from Proto-Germanic *latjanan. Akin to Old English latian ("to delay"), Dutch letten, Old English læt ("late"). More at late, delay.


  • You want to let the rich get richer..let them move their factories to Asia.

    China Rising: Assessing China's impact on America

  • “Why, I believe, if you will let me take Philip Wakem into our confidence, —let me tell him all about your wish to buy, and what it’s for; that my cousins wish to have it, and why they wish to have it, —I believe Philip would help to bring it about.

    VII. Philip Re-enters. Book VI—The Great Temptation

  • “Whatever happens to me let me not be unjust, ” she said; “let me bear my burdens myself, and not shift them upon others!

    Chapter XL

  • “You let him alone, ” he shouted to the people, shaking his hat at them; “let Professor Riis alone.

    X. The Summons on Mount Marcy

  • Reverse that action, and through the force of our own inhibitory power let a new pain be a reminder to us to _let go, _ instead of to hold on, and by decreasing the strain we decrease the possibility of more pain.

    Power Through Repose

  • Mickey-boy, 'if the Joy Lady is so anxious to get the baby, and sew its clothes herself, why I'll just let her,' so I did _let_ her, but it took some time to make them, so I had to wait to bring it 'til tonight.

    Michael O'Halloran

  • "I want her -- let me go to her -- _let_ me go to her at once, Nell."

    Polly A New-Fashioned Girl

  • Retrenchment is written up as evident as the prophetic words of fire upon the walls of Belshazzar's palace -- _To let -- to let -- to let_.

    Olla Podrida

  • Stay, let me read my catalogue -- _Suite_, _figure_, _chagrin_, _naiveté_, and _let me die_, for the parenthesis of all.

    The works of John Dryden, $c now first collected in eighteen volumes. $p Volume 04

  • A side effect of the fix will break any script which does not provide an initial value for a variable in the binding portion of a let, let*, or letrec block.



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  • How did Let go from meaning "hinder" to meaning "permit"?

    August 14, 2012

  • Means both to permit and to hinder.

    October 16, 2008