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Allowance vs. Tolerance: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 20, 2024
"Allowance" refers to an amount of something permitted or allocated, while "tolerance" refers to the capacity to endure or accept variations, differences, or hardships.

Key Differences

Allowance often relates to a specific quantity or provision, like a budget allowance. Tolerance, however, pertains to the acceptance or endurance of variability, such as in manufacturing tolerances.
Allowance is commonly used in financial or quantitative contexts, representing an allocated amount, such as a travel allowance. Tolerance is frequently employed in technical, social, or personal contexts, indicating the degree of permissible variation or acceptance, like tolerance to medication.
An allowance implies a limit or provision set by an authority or rule, like a data usage allowance. Tolerance suggests a range of acceptance or endurance, often inherent or developed, such as cultural tolerance.
Allowance often has a more concrete and defined application, such as in allowances for children. Tolerance can have a more abstract application, encompassing attitudes and capacities, like showing tolerance in a debate.
Allowance can have both literal (monetary allowance) and figurative (allowance for errors) meanings, while tolerance typically involves a more metaphorical understanding, such as emotional or physical tolerance.

Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

Amount permitted or allocated
Capacity to endure or accept variations

Typical Contexts

Financial, quantitative
Technical, social, personal


Limit or provision set
Range of acceptance or endurance

Nature of Application

Concrete and defined
Abstract and encompassing


Both literal and figurative
Often metaphorical

Allowance and Tolerance Definitions


A sum of money given regularly.
His weekly allowance is $20.


Acceptance of differing views or behaviors.
His tolerance of diverse opinions creates a positive environment.


The amount of something permitted.
The luggage allowance on this flight is 30 kg.


Resilience to substances or environmental factors.
Developing a tolerance to medication can reduce its effectiveness.


Consideration for potential variation.
An allowance should be made for measurement errors.


Capacity to endure pain or hardship.
Her tolerance for pain is remarkable.


A discount or rebate.
The trade-in allowance for the old model is quite generous.


Allowable variation in a physical dimension.
The machine's tolerance level is 0.01 mm.


Permission or approval.
You need an allowance to access these resources.


Political or social willingness to allow freedom of expression.
The government's tolerance towards peaceful protests is a sign of democracy.


The act of allowing.


The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.


An amount that is allowed or granted
Consumed my weekly allowance of two eggs.


Leeway for variation from a standard.


Can tolerance be increased or developed?

Yes, tolerance can be built over time, like developing a tolerance to a drug.

Does tolerance always imply approval?

Not necessarily; it can also mean enduring something without necessarily approving it.

Is tolerance a personal trait?

It can be, but it's also used in technical and social contexts.

Can allowance refer to time?

Yes, like time allowance for a task.

Are allowances only for children?

No, allowances apply to various contexts, including adults.

Can an allowance be negative?

Typically no, it represents a positive allocation or permission.

Is tolerance always a good thing?

Not always; excessive tolerance in certain contexts can be problematic.

Is allowance always monetary?

No, it can also refer to quantities or permissions.

Can allowances vary from person to person?

Yes, allowances can be individualized based on needs or roles.

Does tolerance imply weakness?

No, it often requires strength and understanding.

Is tolerance necessary for teamwork?

It's often crucial for effective collaboration and diversity.

Does allowance imply entitlement?

Not necessarily; it can be based on merit or need.

Can tolerance be taught?

Yes, through education and exposure to diversity.

Can allowances be conditional?

Yes, they often come with specific conditions or criteria.

Are allowances legally binding?

In some contexts, like contractual allowances, they are.

Can tolerance lead to indifference?

Potentially, if it leads to ignoring important issues.

Can allowances be renegotiated?

Yes, especially in business or contractual settings.

Is tolerance a cultural value?

It can be, varying greatly between different cultures.

Does tolerance have a mathematical meaning?

Yes, in engineering and manufacturing, it refers to permissible deviations.

Is an allowance always fixed?

It can be fixed or variable, depending on the context.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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