verb (1)
\ ˈlēv How to pronounce leave (audio) \
left\ ˈleft How to pronounce left (audio) \; leaving

Definition of leave

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a(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
2a : 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
3a : 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
4 : to put, deposit, or deliver before or in the process of departing I left a package for you leave a message

intransitive verb

: set out, depart left for the office at eight sharp
leave alone
: to refrain from bothering, disturbing, or using Leave him alone while he's doing his homework.



Definition of leave (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : permission to do something
b : authorized especially extended absence from duty or employment
2 : an act of leaving : departure


verb (2)
leaved; leaving

Definition of leave (Entry 3 of 3)

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Other Words from leave

Verb (1)

leaver noun

Synonyms for leave

Synonyms: Noun

break, holiday [chiefly British], hols [British], recess, vacation

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Leave vs. Let: Usage Guide

Verb (1)

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.

Examples of leave in a Sentence


He took an unpaid leave from work. The soldiers were given a two-month leave for the holidays. He took a few months' leave to care for his sick mother. Our professor is on leave this semester. She is on leave from her law firm. a soldier on military leave I beg leave to differ with you, sir. He was found guilty but was granted leave to appeal against the verdict.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The move comes nearly two days after a mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas Walmart left 20 dead and dozens wounded. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "Cloudflare Ditches 8chan. What Happens Now?," 5 Aug. 2019 His selection comes after a nationwide search was conducted to fill the position left vacant by former director Rachel Young, who departed in February after nearly 12 years of service. Sara Cardine, La Cañada Valley Sun, "After national search, Descanso taps own staffer as horticultural head," 5 Aug. 2019 There’s still work left before Emslie will be fully comfortable with her new team. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Scottish forward Claire Emslie finds new home with Orlando Pride," 5 Aug. 2019 Ring Around The Rosenberry Keegan Rosenberry is one of just four players left in the league to have played every MLS minute for his club. Jake Shapiro, The Denver Post, "Five takeaways from the Colorado Rapids infectious offensive outburst against Montreal," 4 Aug. 2019 Their names were removed from the ballot, leaving their four council seats open for the taking. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Mayor, clerk, council seats up for grabs in Warren primary election," 4 Aug. 2019 Hobbs & Shaw was the only new title to make a wide release this weekend, leaving the other box office slots to summer favorites. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Hobbs & Shaw races to a $60.8 million finish line to win the weekend box office," 4 Aug. 2019 On Saturday, August 3, two separate mass shootings took place in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, leaving a total of at least 29 people dead and at least 52 injured. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "There Were 2 Mass Shootings in a Day. Gun Control Is the Only Answer.," 4 Aug. 2019 The sardine run attracts visitors who are keen on shark and dolphin sightings and may leave disappointed. Jennifer Fitchett, Quartz Africa, "These scientists tracked South Africa’s sardine run over 66 years," 4 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Clemson, of course, will again counter with its own wunderkind under center, Trevor Lawrence, but questions on defense after massive departures on the defensive line leave room for 'Bama to reclaim its throne—for now. The Si Staff, SI.com, "SI's Preseason Top 25: Alabama Edges Clemson Atop the Year's First Ranking," 6 Aug. 2019 The Sox placed Castillo on the family medical emergency leave list Friday. Lamond Pope, chicagotribune.com, "White Sox reinstate catcher Welington Castillo from the family medical emergency leave list," 6 Aug. 2019 Castillo, activated from the family medical emergency leave list before the game, went deep in the sixth to give Chicago a two-run lead again. Noah Trister, BostonGlobe.com, "White Sox open doubleheader with 5-3 win over Tigers," 6 Aug. 2019 Abdullahi Usman a spokesman for the group told The Associated Press that the court granted Zakzaky and his wife medical leave to enable them to go to India for treatment. Washington Post, "Nigeria to allow Shia leader to leave jail for medical care," 5 Aug. 2019 A few weeks later, the employee did indeed have to begin early maternity leave for medical reasons. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Google has a problem with pregnant workers, employee memo alleges," 5 Aug. 2019 More worker benefits Retailers are also boosting benefits, like parental leave and college tuition, while scouring the masses for candidates. Scott Lanman, Fortune, "Stores sweeten wages and benefits amid tightening labor market," 5 Aug. 2019 While each season brings unique challenges, increasing costs such as the 2019 bump in minimum wage leave local restaurant owners with less wiggle room than before. Tirion Morris, azcentral, "Local restaurants struggle in the summer. Here's how they cope and what you can do to help," 4 Aug. 2019 The general consensus among fans is that the women deserve equal pay, but questions of what is equal and how to achieve equal pay leave many fans baffled. Mia Berry, Los Angeles Times, "Equal pay push reverberates with fans attending U.S. women’s soccer victory tour," 3 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'leave.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of leave

Verb (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a(1)


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for leave

Verb (1)

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


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

Verb (2)

Middle English leven, from leef leaf

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Statistics for leave

Last Updated

8 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for leave

The first known use of leave was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for leave



English Language Learners Definition of leave

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


\ ˈlēv How to pronounce leave (audio) \
left\ ˈleft \; leaving

Kids Definition of leave

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to go away from Please leave the room.
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 : to cause or allow to be or remain in a certain condition Leave the door open.
4 : to cause to remain as a trace, mark, or sign The cut left a scar.
5 : to have as a remainder Taking 7 from 10 leaves 3.
6 : to allow to be under another's control Leave everything to me.
7 : to cause to be available Leave room for dessert.
8 : to give by will She left property to the children.
9 : to give up He left school before graduating.
10 : deliver sense 1 She left the package on the way home.



Kids Definition of leave (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : permitted absence from duty or work The soldiers were off on leave.
2 : the act of going away and saying good-bye I had to take leave of a friend.
3 : permission I asked leave to speak.
left; leaving

Legal Definition of leave

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More from Merriam-Webster on leave

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with leave

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for leave

Spanish Central: Translation of leave

Nglish: Translation of leave for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of leave for Arabic Speakers

Comments on leave

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


a period when something is suspended

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