Language: Old English
Origin: lætan


1 verb
let1 S1 W1 past tense and past participle let, present participle letting


[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 to do: They let me leave OR I was allowed to leave.

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.

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.

let somebody go

a) to allow someone to leave a place where they have been kept [= release]:
The police had to let him go through lack of evidence.
The hijackers were persuaded to let 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 spoken


[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 spoken

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 spoken

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 spoken

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 spoken

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 spoken

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.'

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.

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.


[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.

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!

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.

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.


[transitive] especially British English to charge someone an amount of money for the use of a room or building [= 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)



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.

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.

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.

let the good times roll

informal used to say that it is time for people to start having fun

let somebody have it

informal to attack someone

➔ let fly (something)

at fly1 (17)

; ➔ let it all hang out

at hang out (3)

; ➔ live and let live

at live1 (21)

; ➔ let it/her rip

at rip1 (5)

; ➔ let rip

at rip1 (4)

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.

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.

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?

let somebody down lightly/gently

to give someone bad news in a way that will not upset them too much:
I get lots of offers, but I try to let them 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!
8DC to make a piece of clothing longer by unfolding a folded edge [≠ 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] technicalTBC 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.

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.

let something ↔ off

to make something explode:
One boy had let off a firework in class.

➔ let/blow off steam

at steam1 (4)

let on

phrasal verb
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

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.

let something ↔ out

to make a piece of clothing wider or looser, especially because it is too tight

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.

Dictionary results for "let"
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