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

Rangers left-hander Martin Pérez was otherwise strong, allowing one run in seven innings in his first start since April 29. Katherine Fominykh, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles ride rookie Yefry Ramírez to beat error-riddled Rangers, 1-0," 15 July 2018 Since Matt was swinging right handed, Erica went to the other side of the bucket, started to swing left handed, and never changed. Clifton Brown, Indianapolis Star, "Center Grove's Erica Shepherd looking for repeat junior title, LPGA future," 14 July 2018 Dwyer took advantage, firing a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City earns 2-1 win over Toronto FC, snaps nine-match MLS losing skid," 14 July 2018 According to The Sun, Bournemouth have now switched their focus to Leganes left back Diego Rico. SI.com, "Bournemouth Switch Attention to Leganes Full Back as Cherries Baulk at Kieran Tierney Asking Price," 13 July 2018 The ball was swatted out of bounds by the Sun leaving the Mercury with 8.7 seconds. Kelli Stacy, courant.com, "Connecticut Sun Defeat Phoenix Mercury, Snap Losing Streak," 13 July 2018 What McDonald's did not expect is the former Soviet Union boycotting the Games, leaving the U.S. without a major rival. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, "Build-a-Bear blunder: Other company promotions that epically failed," 13 July 2018 They were seen leaving the restaurant parking lot in a white Infiniti SUV. Chelsea Prince, ajc, "Applebee’s waitress was stabbed after she brushed up against diner’s leg, cops say," 13 July 2018 Relentless drought had dried up the pond, leaving deep mud to trap the horses. Alex Devoid, azcentral, "Volunteers care for Navajo wild horses during drought, despite overpopulation concerns," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Lees began his tenure with the CSO in June 1998 but has been on intermittent leave since April 2016, said a statement from the orchestra. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Timothy Lees steps down as Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concertmaster," 13 July 2018 Nebergall has been on unpaid leave since he was arrested. Marc Freeman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Deputy convicted of attempted rape," 13 July 2018 Friday was Frank’s first day back on the job after she was placed on medical leave for a broken ankle, her family said. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "US Postal worker found dead in California after delivering mail in extreme heat, family says," 10 July 2018 The officer, who has not been identified, is on standard administrative leave. David Harris, OrlandoSentinel.com, "'I do not negotiate whatsoever,' armed pub owner said, before being shot by SWAT officer: report," 10 July 2018 Shortly before this meeting and while on leave, authorities say Zhang had taken a trip to China with his family. Allyson Chiu, Anchorage Daily News, "Ex-Apple engineer arrested on his way to China, charged with stealing company's autonomous car secrets," 11 July 2018 The Archdiocese of Washington announced Tuesday that the Rev. Michael Briese is on leave pending the outcome of an investigation. Fox News, "Priest who booted funeral from church placed on leave," 3 July 2018 On Living His Truth As A Bisexual Rapper | Side Take To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that : 0%: 0% NPR reported that Rosfeld has been on administrative leave since the June 19 shooting. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "The Cop Who Killed Antwon Rose Has Been Charged with Criminal Homicide," 27 June 2018 But this problem can be addressed by extending leave programs to fathers and encouraging them to take it. Lyman Stone, Vox, "This Mother’s Day, honor Mom by backing parental leave," 11 May 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

19 Sep 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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