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 In reality, a 50-50 Senate with Harris breaking ties would still leave Biden significantly constrained, able to move no further than the most moderate Democrat would allow. Jenny Jarvie, Los Angeles Times, "Democrats close in on Senate control with Warnock win and Ossoff lead," 5 Jan. 2021 The state numbers leave out data from labs that do not report electronically. Alison Steinbach, The Arizona Republic, "COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arizona hit record highs as state reports over 5,100 new cases," 5 Jan. 2021 If someone needs to focus, leave them to it until their project is complete. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Jan. 3, 2021: Gemini, use gentle words; Capricorn, spend time with supportive friends," 3 Jan. 2021 The instructions leave that important clarification out. Matt Jancer, Wired, "Gear and Tips to Winter-Proof Your Home and Stay Warm," 3 Jan. 2021 And yet, over-cleansing will leave skin borderline sandpapery and parched. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Why a Cleansing Oil Is the Secret to Glowing Skin This Winter," 2 Jan. 2021 Soon enough, LeBron James could leave the mostly empty arena and finally celebrate his 36th birthday. Mark Medina, USA TODAY, "LeBron James planned to celebrate 36th birthday and Los Angeles Lakers win with wine, tequila," 31 Dec. 2020 On New Year's Day, the exiting cold front will leave behind temperatures in the mid-60s in New Orleans and the north shore under cloudy skies, and the low 60s in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, under a mix of clouds and sun. Mark Schleifstein, NOLA.com, "High winds, hail, tornadoes still possible for south Louisiana's New Year's Eve," 31 Dec. 2020 Schools provide a way for girls in a conservative society to leave home, meet friends, spend time away from household chores and perhaps chart their own futures. Washington Post, "Schools in India have been closed since March. The costs to children are mounting.," 30 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Many suits say employees grappling with COVID-19 themselves or caring for a relative have been illegally denied sick leave or family and medical leave. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "COVID-19 sparks more than 1,000 workplace-related lawsuits in 2020 as employees complain about safety, wages," 6 Jan. 2021 Jail officials placed Greer on administrative leave with pay in November after launching an investigation alongside the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, "Cuyahoga County Jail officer fired after admitting he smuggled drugs for inmates, records say," 4 Jan. 2021 Great—now feel like hibernate and not want leave den. Teddy Wayne, The New Yorker, "Hibernation Insomnia," 2 Jan. 2021 Navajo County said he was placed on administrative leave with pay Tuesday. Felicia Fonseca, The Arizona Republic, "Navajo County Health Dept. Director Jeffrey Lee indicted on theft, fraud charges," 1 Jan. 2021 Workers could previously use the unpaid leave only to care for a seriously ill child, parent, spouse or themselves. Alexei Koseff, SFChronicle.com, "Here are 21 new laws for Californians in 2021," 1 Jan. 2021 With so many employees falling sick or taking leave after months of treating coronavirus patients, hospitals are struggling to find enough workers. BostonGlobe.com, "No travel history in 1st reported US case of COVID-19 variant," 30 Dec. 2020 McBride, for instance, plans to use her platform to fight for equality, health care, and better paid leave laws in her state. Molly Longman, refinery29.com, "How To Cope With “Happiness Guilt”," 30 Dec. 2020 Of the approximately 2,000 employees who applied for exemptions, 57% were denied accommodation or leave and 4% have requests pending. Elyssa Cherney, chicagotribune.com, "CPS denies COVID-19 accommodations to hundreds of teachers and staff who are due to return to schools Monday," 29 Dec. 2020

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

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Leave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leave. Accessed 21 Jan. 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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Comments on leave

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