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

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

On Saturday, thousands of gilets jaunes stormed Paris and riots erupted, leaving more than 260 people injured and leading to over 370 arrests. Noemie Bisserbe, WSJ, "France’s Macron, Astride the Globe, Overlooked Swelling Anger at Home," 7 Dec. 2018 This ends up leaving more acetylcholine intact, Dr. Tan says, which may help improve a patient's memory. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "How Exactly Do Different Kinds of Alzheimer’s Medications Work?," 6 Dec. 2018 But with just a few weeks left until 2019, Pantone is hoping to usher some positivity into all of our lives in the New Year. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Pantone Hopes Its 2019 Color of The Year Will Make Life Less of a Dumpster Fire," 6 Dec. 2018 Many complain that their city no longer feels like their city at all, which has apparently in the last five years has contributed to 40 percent of couples leaving the city after their first child. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Tourist magnet ‘I Amsterdam’ sign has been removed," 6 Dec. 2018 Firstly, Japan's population is aging rapidly leading to homes being left unoccupied when owners die or move to retirement or nursing homes. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "The Free Homes Being Given Away In Japan Actually Have Some Scary History," 6 Dec. 2018 What’s left among Microsoft’s list of PC deals this year are generally less-expensive notebooks and desktops with hefty percentage discounts amounting to a couple of hundred dollars or so. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's Cyber Monday laptop deals are going fast—here are the best we found," 26 Nov. 2018 Anthony tells Erin, which leaves her visibly distraught. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "This 'Blue Bloods' Sneak Peak Hints That a Character Is Leaving the Show," 7 Dec. 2018 The Cure: When washing and conditioning, flip your hair to the front and rinse forward to avoid leaving shampoo and conditioner residue on your back. Mona Gohara, Good Housekeeping, "5 Reasons You're Getting Back Acne — And How to Make It Go Away," 7 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Maternity leave offered a unique opportunity to get away for a few weeks and share a similar experience with my baby. Jordi Lippe-mcgraw, Condé Nast Traveler, "Maternity Moons Are Now a Thing," 28 Nov. 2018 Vortex Air said the 6:20 a.m. flight had been the first on the pilot’s first day back at work after taking leave. Rod Mcguirk, The Seattle Times, "Sleeping pilot overflies Australian island destination," 28 Nov. 2018 The mother of three, who welcomed her and William's youngest in April, just officially returned from maternity leave a month ago, so her appearances, let alone those for formal events, have been less frequent this year. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Wears a Teal Jenny Packham Gown to the Tusk Conservation Awards in London," 8 Nov. 2018 Fact: Finding the right leave-in conditioner can make all the difference for women with natural hair. Tanisha Pina, Glamour, "The Best Leave-In Conditioners, According to Natural Hair Bloggers," 11 Oct. 2018 The baby was born via a surrogate, which is one of the reasons why Wade felt taking a brief paternity leave was necessary. Tim Reynolds, The Seattle Times, "Dwyane Wade returns to Miami Heat after birth of child," 20 Nov. 2018 Today, women continue to be forced out of tech (and other fields) by hostile maternal leave policies. Marie Hicks, The Verge, "The long history behind the Google Walkout," 9 Nov. 2018 New York has the smallest wage gap in the country at the moment and recently established mandatory paid parental leave for city employees. Kimberly Cutter, Marie Claire, "New York City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen Is Making Her Hometown the Best Place on Earth for Women," 24 Oct. 2018 Kate Middleton returned to her public duties today, making her first post-maternity leave appearance. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Steps Out in a Casual Look For Her First Public Engagement Post-Maternity Leave," 2 Oct. 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

12 Dec 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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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

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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