Meaning of LET in English


I. let 1 S1 W1 /let/ BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle let , present participle letting )

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: lætan ]

1 . ALLOW [transitive not in passive] to allow someone to do something ⇨ permit :

I can’t come out tonight – my dad won’t let me.

let somebody do something

Let Johnny have a go on the computer now.

Some people seem to let their kids do whatever they like.

Let me have a look at that letter.

let somebody have something (=give something to someone)

I can let you have another £10, but no more.

► Do not say ‘be let to do something’, because let has no passive form. Use the active form, or use be allowed : They let me leave. | I was allowed to leave.


In written English, people often prefer to use allow somebody to do something rather than let somebody do something , as it is slightly more formal:

We must allow young people to develop independence.

2 . NOT STOP SOMETHING HAPPENING [transitive not usually in passive] to not stop something happening, or to make it possible for it to happen

let somebody/something do something

Jenny let the note fall to the ground.

Don’t let anyone know it was me who told you.

Max let the door swing open.

Let the cookies cool down before you try them.

let yourself be beaten/persuaded/fooled etc

I stupidly let myself be persuaded to take part in a live debate.

3 . let go

a) to stop holding something or someone:

Let go! You’re hurting me.

let go of

The guard let go of the lead, and the dog lunged forward.

b) to accept that you cannot change something and stop thinking or worrying about it:

Sometimes you just have to learn to let go.

4 . let somebody go

a) to allow someone to leave a place where they have been kept SYN release :

The police had to let him go through lack of evidence.

The hijackers were persuaded to let some hostages go.

b) to make someone leave their job – used in order to avoid saying this directly:

I’m afraid we had to let several of our staff go.

• • •


5 . SUGGEST/OFFER [transitive not in passive] used to make a suggestion or to offer help

let’s do something

Let’s make a start, shall we?

Let’s all get together over Christmas.

Let’s not jump to conclusions – he might have been delayed.

let somebody do something

Let me help you with those bags.

Let me give you a piece of advice.

let’s hope (that)

Let’s hope he got your message in time.

don’t let’s do something British English informal :

Don’t let’s argue like this.

6 . let’s see ( also let me see ) used when you are thinking about or trying to remember something:

Today’s date is – let me see, March 20th.

Now, let’s see, where did I put your application form?

7 . let me think used to say that you need time to think about or remember something:

What was his name, now? Let me think.

8 . let him/her/them etc used to say that you do not care if someone does something they are threatening to do:

‘She says she’s going to sell her story to the newspapers!’ ‘Well, let her!’

9 . let’s face it/let’s be honest used to say that someone must accept an unpleasant fact or situation:

Let’s face it, no one’s going to lend us any money.

10 . let’s just say (that) used to say that you are not going to give someone all the details about something:

‘So who did it?’ ‘Let’s just say it wasn’t anyone in this family.’

11 . let yourself go

a) to relax completely and enjoy yourself:

For goodness sake, Peter, why don’t you just let yourself go for once?

b) to stop looking after yourself properly, for example by not caring about your appearance:

Poor Dad. He’s really let himself go since Mum died.

12 . let something go

a) to not punish or criticize someone for something they have done wrong:

OK, I’ll let it go this time.

b) to stop worrying or thinking too much about something:

It’s time to let the past go.

c) informal to sell something for a particular amount

let something go for £20/$200 etc

I couldn’t let it go for less than £300.

13 . WISH [transitive not in passive] used to say that you wish or hope that something happens, or does not happen

(not) let somebody/something do something

Don’t let him be the one who died, she prayed.

14 . let alone used after a negative statement to say that the next thing you mention is even more unlikely:

The baby can’t even sit up yet, let alone walk!

15 . let something drop/rest/lie to stop talking about or trying to deal with something:

It seems the press are not going to let the matter rest.

16 . let slip to accidentally tell someone something that should have been kept secret

let slip that

Liz let slip that she’d seen him quite recently.

17 . RENT [transitive] especially British English to charge someone an amount of money for the use of a room or building SYN lease ⇨ hire , rent :

Interhome has over 20,000 houses to let across Europe.

let something to somebody

I’ve let my spare room to a student.

let somebody something

Would you consider letting me the garage for a few months?

let something out to somebody

We let the smaller studios out to local artists.

To Let written (=written on a sign outside a building to show that it is available for renting)

18 . MATHEMATICS let something be/equal/represent something technical used in mathematics to mean that you give something a particular measurement or value in order to make a calculation:

Let angle A equal the sum of the two opposite sides.

19 . let yourself in for something informal to do something that will cause you a lot of trouble:

I don’t think Carol realizes what she’s letting herself in for.

20 . never let a day/week/year etc go by without doing something used to say that someone does a particular thing very regularly:

They never seem to let a year go by without introducing a new version of their software.

21 . let the good times roll informal used to say that it is time for people to start having fun

22 . let somebody have it informal to attack someone

⇨ let fly (something) at ↑ fly 1 (17), ⇨ let it all hang out at ↑ hang out (3), ⇨ live and let live at ↑ live 1 (21), ⇨ let it/her rip at ↑ rip 1 (5), ⇨ let rip at ↑ rip 1 (4)

• • •


▪ allow to say that someone can do something – used about parents, teachers, or people in authority:

They don’t allow students to chew gum in the classroom.


I’m not allowed to stay out after ten o'clock.

▪ let [not in passive] to allow someone to do something. Let is not used in the passive, and is much more commonly used in everyday English than allow :

Will your Mum let you come to the party?


I’ll borrow John’s bicycle, if he’ll let me.

▪ permit formal if something is permitted, it is allowed according to the rules - used especially on written notices and announcements:

Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the building.

▪ give somebody permission used when someone in an important official position decides to allow someone to do something:

He was given special permission to leave school early.


The Home Office has given him permission to stay in Britain indefinitely.

▪ give your consent to say that you will allow someone to do something that will affect you personally, or a member of your family, when you have a legal right to say ‘no’:

Her parents have given their consent to the marriage.


You can’t build on someone’s land without the owner’s consent.

▪ give something the go-ahead to officially allow a planned project or activity to happen:

The government finally gave the go-ahead for a new terminal at Heathrow airport.


A new nuclear plant has been given the go-ahead.

▪ authorize to officially or legally allow someone to do something - used about laws or people:

The UN resolution would authorize the use of force.


I never authorized them to give information about me to other banks.

▪ entitle to give someone the right to do or have something:

The pass entitles you to travel on any bus, at any time, in Norwich.


If the goods are faulty, the customer is entitled to a refund.

▪ sanction formal to give official approval and support for something:

The Truman administration refused to sanction a military attack.


The advertisements were sanctioned by the candidate himself.

let somebody/something ↔ down phrasal verb

1 . to not do something that someone trusts or expects you to do:

She had been let down badly in the past.

The worst feeling is having let our fans down.

let the side down British English (=disappoint a group of people that you belong to)

2 . to make someone or something less successful or effective:

McKenzie’s judgement rarely lets him down.

3 . to move something or someone to a lower position:

Let down a rope so that I can climb up.

Carefully, she let herself down into the water.

4 . let your hair down informal to relax and enjoy yourself, especially after working hard:

Visitors young and old let their hair down and enjoyed the show.

5 . let your guard/defences down to relax and stop worrying about what might happen or what someone might find out about you:

Maggie never really lets her guard down, does she?

6 . let somebody down lightly/gently to give someone bad news in a way that will not upset them too much:

I get asked out on dates quite often, but I always try to let the guy down gently.

7 . British English to allow the air to escape from something so that it loses its shape and becomes flat:

Someone’s let my tyres down!

8 . to make a piece of clothing longer by unfolding a folded edge OPP take up

let somebody in on something phrasal verb

to tell something that is secret or only known by a few people:

TV chef Raymond Blanc lets us in on the secrets of his kitchen.

Would someone mind letting me in on the joke?

let somebody/something into something phrasal verb

1 . to tell someone something that is secret or private:

It was time to let the rest of the family into the secret.

2 . [usually passive] technical to put something such as a window or a decoration into a wall:

Two large windows were let into the wall each side of the door.

let somebody/something off phrasal verb

1 . to not punish someone:

I’ll let you off this time, but don’t do it again.

let somebody/something off with

After checking our identities, the customs men let us off with a warning.

let somebody off the hook (=allow someone to escape punishment or criticism)

He’d decided to make Sandra wait before letting her off the hook.

let somebody off lightly/easily (=give someone a less serious punishment than they deserve)

I think young criminals are let off far too lightly.

2 . let somebody off (something) if someone in authority lets you off something you should do, they give you permission not to do it:

You’ve worked hard all week, so I’ll let you off today.

3 . let something ↔ off to make something explode:

One boy had let off a firework in class.

⇨ let/blow off steam at ↑ steam 1 (4)

let on phrasal verb informal

to tell someone something, especially something you have been keeping secret

let on (that)

Don’t let on that I told you.

let on who/why/how etc

We never did let on how we found out.

I’m sure he knows more than he’s letting on.

let out phrasal verb

1 . let out something to suddenly make a loud sound such as a shout or cry

let out a scream/cry/roar etc

He let out a cry of disbelief.

2 . let something ↔ out to make a piece of clothing wider or looser, especially because it is too tight

3 . let something ↔ out British English to charge someone an amount of money for the use of a room or building:

We’re letting out our son’s old room to a student.

4 . American English if a school, college, film etc lets out, it ends and the people attending it can leave:

What time does the movie let out?

⇨ let the cat out of the bag at ↑ cat (2)

let up phrasal verb

1 . to become less severe or harmful:

The wind had dropped and the rain gradually let up.

2 . to be less severe, unkind, or violent towards someone:

Even when the crowd had scattered, the police didn’t let up.

3 . to stop working as hard as you were:

You’re doing really well, but you can’t afford to let up now.

II. let 2 BrE AmE noun

1 . [countable] British English an arrangement in which a house or flat is rented to someone:

An agency is managing the let.

a long-term let

2 . without let or hindrance law happening freely without being prevented in any way

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.