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

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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

Noun 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 Several nearby streets will also be available for parking, though drivers may be charged to leave their cars in private lots. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "What will the 2021 Kentucky Derby look like? Parking, traffic, COVID safety and dining," 13 Apr. 2021 Once paramedics arrived, Potter ordered both of the officers to leave the house, sit in separate squad cars and deactivate their body cameras. Washington Post, "Officer Kim Potter fatally shot Daunte Wright, police said. She’s a 26-year vet, served as union president," 13 Apr. 2021 Almost all of the additional 8,500 foreign troops in Afghanistan from NATO allies and other countries are also likely to leave in coming months, officials said. Los Angeles Times, "Biden plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11," 13 Apr. 2021 Did anyone expect Horschel to leave his shoes on while playing from the water? Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, "Doc's Morning Line: Will the next UC Bearcats men's basketball coach be one of these four?," 13 Apr. 2021 According to recent surveys, 25 to 50 percent of employees plan to leave their employers in 2021. Anchorage Daily News, "5 steps you can take to regain your employees’ trust," 13 Apr. 2021 People were only allowed to leave the house for essential reasons, such as outdoor exercise with one other person, or visiting a place of worship. CNN, "Travel to the UK during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go," 13 Apr. 2021 The late dissident Yelena Bonner, for example, persuaded the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky to leave the country rather than risk arrest. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Why Alexey Navalny Returned to Russia," 13 Apr. 2021 During that quarantine, recruits are housed with a roommate but not allowed to leave their rooms. Andrew Dyer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Public recruit graduations will resume at San Diego boot camp, Marines say," 12 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Britt Reid was an assistant with the Chiefs and was placed on administrative leave after the crash. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Britt Reid crash victim 'cannot walk, talk or eat like a normal 5-year-old,' cousin says," 14 Apr. 2021 Elliott had advocated for the officer to be put on administrative leave as the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated. NBC News, "Officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, police chief resign in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota," 14 Apr. 2021 Officials have not publicly identified the officer, who has been placed on administrative leave for 30 days. Christine Fernando, USA TODAY, "Family of Adam Toledo views footage of fatal Chicago police shooting of 13-year-old; video will not be immediately released," 14 Apr. 2021 Alvarez-Glasman confirmed that a number of employees were placed on administrative leave but would not provide more details, citing the need for confidentiality. Adam Elmahrek, Los Angeles Times, "Several Huntington Park finance employees put on leave, one arrested in data breach probe," 14 Apr. 2021 The trooper involved, who was not identified, was not injured and has been put on administrative leave pending an investigation, Jones said. Rebekah Riess, CNN, "A state trooper shot and killed a 16-year-old armed with a knife and airsoft gun, Maryland authorities say," 14 Apr. 2021 Minutes later, the unnamed officer, who is on administrative leave pending an investigation, arrived on the scene where Ham allegedly had an airsoft gun and a knife. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Police officer fatally shoots 16-year-old allegedly wielding airsoft gun that’s ‘a close representation’ to a real gun," 14 Apr. 2021 Sheskey was placed on administrative leave soon after the shooting as the Wisconsin Department of Justice conducted a months-long investigation. Washington Post, "Kenosha officer who shot Jacob Blake returns to work after internal probe finds ‘he acted within the law’," 14 Apr. 2021 Hamilton, who has been with the Escondido Police Department for about four years, was placed on administrative leave following the shooting. City News Service, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Man who ran at Escondido officer with crowbar sentenced to prison," 13 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for leave

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for leave

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Leave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leave. Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for leave

Nglish: Translation of leave for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of leave for Arabic Speakers

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