verb (1)
\ˈlēv \
left\ ˈleft \; 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

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

Andersen’s problems came well after Denholm’s time there; by the time the Enron scandal was underway in 2001, she’d already left and put in time at Toyota and Sun Microsystems. Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge, "Tesla’s new chairwoman is walking into SEC and DOJ probes," 9 Nov. 2018 Now, Hawking's collaborators are left to finish tabulating whether those particles could store enough information to dodge the conflict with quantum mechanics. Sarah Lewin, Space.com, "Stephen Hawking's Children and Colleagues Discuss Physicist's Final Book, Legacy," 17 Oct. 2018 Procopio did not address whether state policing duties could be left to the local police departments on the two islands. Todd Wallack, BostonGlobe.com, "For some State Police, it’s a posting in paradise," 14 July 2018 Some 9 million people were left in darkness for 25 hours. sandiegouniontribune.com, "July 14, 1977: Blackout hits N.Y.," 14 July 2018 In immigration proceedings, children are often left to fend for themselves: One-year-old toddlers have landed in court. Sarah Kinosian, Teen Vogue, "Reunification Proves Complicated for Families Separated at the U.S.-Mexico Border," 14 July 2018 Poor form after an injury and then a debilitating metabolic disease led to him being left out of the Germany squad for the World Cup in Russia. Christophe Beaudufe, chicagotribune.com, "Gotze, from World Cup glory to soccer hell in four years," 13 July 2018 One of these searching souls will be left holding the nebulous prize by book’s end. Terry Hong, The Christian Science Monitor, "'What We Were Promised' depicts post-Mao China in a deft debut novel set in Shanghai," 13 July 2018 More than two years after a mass shooting at a Central Florida nightclub, survivors and victims' families are still left with questions. Shannon Butler And Jason Kelly, ajc, "Pulse shooting victim's mother pressing for FBI ballistics report," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Jones was immediately placed on administrative leave and subsequently fired for use of excessive force. Jewel Wicker, Teen Vogue, "A Former Atlanta Police Officer Who Beat a Black Teenager on the Job Has Been Indicted for Assault," 12 Oct. 2018 He has been placed on administrative leave as per protocol while county police conduct an independent investigation. Chris Irvine, Fox News, "Cop who fatally shot unarmed 17-year-old boy was sworn in just 90 minutes before, police sources say," 2 Oct. 2018 Grant told NBC News that the two officers were put on administrative leave within a few days of Grant learning about the video. Farnoush Amiri, NBC News, "Georgia officers on leave over after coin-toss used before decision to make arrest," 13 July 2018 The apartment manager was placed on administrative leave after the July 6 incident at the River Crossing at Keystone apartment complex. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "IMPD investigating officer involved in alleged profiling incident at swimming pool," 13 July 2018 Callery was placed on administrative leave soon after the incident while the investigation was conducted, Toro said. Kathleen Megan, courant.com, "CCSU Professor Charged With Interfering With Police, Reckless Endangerment," 13 July 2018 Michael Selyem, a veteran deputy district attorney who handles gang prosecutions in San Bernardino County, was placed on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted, the district attorney's office said. CBS News, "San Bernardino prosecutor punished for comments about Maxine Waters, Michelle Obama," 10 July 2018 The employee, she was told, was placed on administrative leave. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "#EatingOutWhileBlack: Subway Employee Calls 911 on Black Family Because She Thought They Would Rob Her," 5 July 2018 The two employees were put on administrative leave as soon as the school was alerted to the problem and later terminated, Smith said. Diana Lambert, sacbee, "Adult charter could lose state funds, face sanctions after state review finds questionable practices," 3 July 2018

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

14 Nov 2018

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

: permission to do something


\ˈlēv \
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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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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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