What does "no allowance" mean in "snug fit: a fit (as of mechanical parts) with no allowance"? Does it mean something like "an amount of something", in this case the amount of room or space? Thank you!

  • Did you look up "allowance"? M-W gives the appropriate definition. Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 4:19
  • "no allowance" seems like an odd phrasing. Certainly I would say that an internal combustion engine's piston rings have a snug fit, despite there being a tiny amount of clearance between ring and cylinder. I would have gone with :tight tolerances". And some things with even more leeway might still be snug, certain fashionable clothing for example. Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 4:27

1 Answer 1


There is a definition in Webster's dictionary that fits this:

an allowed dimensional difference between mating parts of a machine

So yes, it means that there is no additional space once the parts fit together, and really just emphasises that it is a 'snug' (or 'tight') fit.

It should be noted though that Webster's dictionary is chiefly US English. As a native British English speaker, I have never heard 'allowance' used that way, and there is no such definition in Cambridge (a chiefly British English dictionary).

In British English, we would use the word "give":

It is a snug fit with no give.

And, very informally, we use the expression "no wiggle room".

  • I don't know whether that sense of allowance is solely American, but there seems to be some similar usage in British English in the sense of "the amount of space that we allow", e.g. "What are machining allowances and why do we need them in the casting process?" and "mold blanks are machined before being hardened and finished with a machining allowance."
    – stangdon
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 17:36
  • Thank you all so very much for your answers and/or comments. I really appreciate it!
    – Maurice
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 17:37
  • @stangdon I wouldn't be that dogmatic either which is why I said 'chiefly' and not solely. But I think the fact that the precise definition is not found in either Cambridge or Oxford Learners speaks volumes. And while the website you linked to is a UK based manufacturing company using the term, the page is actually an explanation of the term! That wouldn't be needed if it was in general use outside of specific industries and as such it may be considered 'terminology' rather than vocabulary.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 6:48

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