from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To give permission or opportunity to; allow.
  • intransitive verb To cause to; make.
  • intransitive verb Used as an auxiliary in the imperative to express a command, request, or proposal.
  • intransitive verb Used as an auxiliary in the imperative to express a warning or threat.
  • intransitive verb To permit to enter, proceed, or depart.
  • intransitive verb To release from or as if from confinement.
  • intransitive verb To rent or lease.
  • intransitive verb To award, especially after bids have been submitted.
  • intransitive verb To become rented or leased.
  • intransitive verb To be or become assigned, as to a contractor.
  • idiom (let alone) Not to mention; much less.
  • idiom (let go) To cease to employ; dismiss.
  • idiom (let off on) To cause to diminish, as in pressure; ease up on.
  • idiom (let (one's) hair down) To drop one's reserve or inhibitions.
  • idiom (let (someone) have it) To beat, strike, or shoot at someone.
  • idiom (let (someone) have it) To scold or punish.
  • idiom (let (someone) in on) To reveal (a secret) to someone.
  • idiom (let (someone) in on) To allow someone to participate in (something).
  • idiom (let up on) To be or become more lenient with.
  • noun Something that hinders; an obstacle.
  • noun Sports An invalid stroke in tennis and other net games that requires a replay.
  • transitive verb To hinder or obstruct.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun A letting for hire or rent.
  • noun A retarding; hindrance; obstacle; impediment; delay: now currently used only in the tautological phrase “without let or hindrance.”
  • In cricket, to miss a chance of catching (a hatsman) out.
  • noun A diminutive suffix, as in bracelet, hamlet, rivulet, etc., and other words from or based upon the French.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Abbreviations of Lettish.
  • 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.


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

[Middle English leten, from Old English lǣtan; see lē- in Indo-European roots.]

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

[Middle English lette, from letten, to hinder, from Old English lettan; see lē- in Indo-European roots.]

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.

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").


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

    China Rising: Assessing China's impact on America 2010

  • “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 1917

  • “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 1917

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

    X. The Summons on Mount Marcy 1904

  • 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 Annie Payson Call 1896

  • 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 Gene Stratton-Porter 1893

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

    Polly A New-Fashioned Girl L. T. Meade 1884

  • 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 Frederick Marryat 1820

  • 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 John Dryden 1665

  • 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.

    2BakSa.Net 2008


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  • Means both to permit and to hinder.

    October 16, 2008

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

    August 14, 2012