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Furlough is a word that has been in use since the seventeenth century. We will examine the definition of the word furlough, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A furlough is a leave of absence. In the military a furlough is a leave of absence that is granted for a period of time, so that the service member may take care of personal business or enjoy a vacation. In business or government a furlough is a leave of absence that an employee must take, usually without pay. A company will send employees on furlough when there is temporarily not enough work to support their employment, or because the company is short on cash and can not pay those employees. Furloughs for government employees are often imposed when a legislative body fails to authorize a budget, or if there is a shortfall in funding. Furlough is used as a noun or a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are furloughs, furloughed, furloughing. The word furlough is derived from the Dutch word verlof, which means permission.


During the last government shutdown in October 2013, which lasted for two weeks, several thousand employees at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard were furloughed and the shipyard had to suspend work on the USS Connecticut. (The Kitsap Sun)

But you could still run into some delays if you’re traveling because “non-essential” employees will be furloughed. (USA Today)

Much of the staff of U.S. science and environmental agencies could be hit with furloughs, with possible lost pay. (National Geographic Magazine)

Many employees would be placed on furlough, meaning they couldn’t work and would not receive pay for the duration of the shutdown. (The Business Insider)