Printable Version
Pronunciation: fêr-lo Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. An official leave of absence from an organization such as the army or a company, permission to leave a job temporarily. 2. A document authorizing such a leave.

Notes: Today's word may be used as a verb with no change: "Thirty office workers were furloughed until Christmas." I see no reason why we couldn't speak of someone being furloughable, though only a handful of people have shown the nerve to do so. Furloughable makes room for furloughability, of course.

In Play: If you are in the military, you always look forward to a furlough: "Sosmeier got a furlough in Paris, but I didn't get time off until we returned to Ft. Bragg." In fact, because of its positive connotation, this word is being used more and more in business as a euphemism for temporary lay-offs: "The board of regents notified administrators, including college presidents, vice presidents and deans, that they could be targeted for a furlough." After which they can rejoin their troops in the trenches.

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Middle Dutch verlof, which was borrowed from the German word Verlaub "permission, leave". German -laub, as in Urlaub "leave, vacation", Dutch lof "praise", and English leave, as in "by your leave", came from the same PIE root, leubh- "like, love". This root also produced English lief as in "I would as lief go now" meaning, "I would prefer to go now." We find the same root in belief, something else we hold dear or love. All these words are also related to Russian lyubit' "to love", Dutch lief "nice, dear", English love, and German lieben "to love". (We hope Riutaro F. Aida does not go on furlough but keeps sending us great Good Words like this one for our series.)

Dr. Goodword,

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