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verb, \ˈlēv\

Definition of leave

left play \ˈleft\ leaving

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a (1) :  bequeath, devise <left a fortune to his son> (2) :  to have remaining after one's death <leaves a widow and two children> b :  to cause to remain as a trace or aftereffect <oil leaves a stain> <the wound left an ugly scar>

  3. 2 a :  to cause or allow to be or remain in a specified condition <leave the door open> <his manner left me cold> b :  to fail to include or take along <left the notes at home> <the movie leaves a lot out> c :  to have as a remainder <4 from 7 leaves 3> d :  to permit to be or remain subject to another's action or control <just leave everything to me> e :  let f :  to cause or allow to be or remain available <leave room for expansion> <left myself an out>

  4. 3 a :  to go away from :  depart <leave the room> b :  desert, abandon <left his wife> c :  to terminate association with :  withdraw from <left school before graduation>

  5. 4 :  to put, deposit, or deliver before or in the process of departing <I left a package for you> <leave a message>

  6. intransitive verb
  7. :  set out, depart

leaver noun
leave alone
  1. :  to refrain from bothering, disturbing, or using

Usage Discussion of leave

Leave (sense 2e) with the infinitive but without to <leave it be> is a mostly spoken idiom used in writing especially for humorous effect. It is not often criticized in British English, but American commentators, adhering to an opinion first expressed in 1881, still dislike it.

Origin of leave

Middle English leven, from Old English lǣfan; akin to Old High German verleiben to leave, Old English belīfan to be left over, and perhaps to Lithuanian lipti to adhere, Greek lipos grease, fat

First Known Use: before 12th century




Simple Definition of leave

  • : a period of time when someone has special permission to be away from a job or from military service

  • : permission to do something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of leave

  1. 1 a :  permission to do something b :  authorized especially extended absence from duty or employment

  2. 2 :  an act of leaving :  departure

Examples of leave in a sentence

  1. He took an unpaid leave from work.

  2. The soldiers were given a two-month leave for the holidays.

  3. He took a few months' leave to care for his sick mother.

  4. Our professor is on leave this semester.

  5. She is on leave from her law firm.

  6. a soldier on military leave

  7. I beg leave to differ with you, sir.

  8. He was found guilty but was granted leave to appeal against the verdict.

Origin of leave

Middle English leve, from Old English lēaf; akin to Middle High German loube permission, Old English alȳfan to allow — more at believe

First Known Use: before 12th century




Definition of leave


  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  leaf

Origin of leave

Middle English leven, from leef leaf

First Known Use: 14th century

LEAVE Defined for Kids



verb \ˈlēv\

Definition of leave for Students

left \ˈleft\leaving

  1. 1 :  to go away from <Please leave the room.>

  2. 2 :  to cause to remain behind on purpose or without meaning to <Oh, no, I left my mittens at school.> <Leave your money at home.>

  3. 3 :  to cause or allow to be or remain in a certain condition <Leave the door open.>

  4. 4 :  to cause to remain as a trace, mark, or sign <The cut left a scar.>

  5. 5 :  to have as a remainder <Taking 7 from 10 leaves 3.>

  6. 6 :  to allow to be under another's control <Leave everything to me.>

  7. 7 :  to cause to be available <Leave room for dessert.>

  8. 8 :  to give by will <She left property to the children.>

  9. 9 :  to give up <He left school before graduating.>

  10. 10 :  deliver 1 <She left the package on the way home.>

Headscratcher for leave

If people have left a room they are gone, but anything that is left in the room remains there.




Definition of leave for Students

  1. 1 :  permitted absence from duty or work <The soldiers were off on leave.>

  2. 2 :  the act of going away and saying good-bye <I had to take leave of a friend.>

  3. 3 :  permission <I asked leave to speak.>

Law Dictionary


transitive verb

Legal Definition of leave


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up leave? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a timid, meek, or unassertive person

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