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

But the dynamics of the current leadership battle show it’s much harder to mobilize moderates — especially when the grassroots activists of the left have emerged as a real force in politics. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "House progressives are getting ready to fight off Nancy Pelosi’s challengers.," 21 Nov. 2018 But when examining the situation closely in terms of political and institutional impact, Snowden's leaks have left a mixed legacy. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "The Snowden Legacy, part one: What’s changed, really?," 21 Nov. 2018 Split rolls and scoop out insides of both tops and bottoms, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell. Anna Helm Baxter, Country Living, "Salami Sandwiches with Cauliflower Relish," 31 Oct. 2018 Single-handedly proving that exes can totally be friends and leave all drama at the door, Serena and rapper Common reunited for a good cause—to attend a charity event together in Chicago. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Serena Williams Walked the Red Carpet With Her Ex-Boyfriend For a Great Reason," 31 Oct. 2018 The far-right and the far-left aren’t two sides of the same coin. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "All the Times Trump Has Incited Violence Against People He Dislikes," 30 Oct. 2018 So far, it has not been confirmed whether Kelly will take a new position at NBC or leave the network entirely. Megan Friedman, Good Housekeeping, "Here’s What the ‘Today' Show Is Doing in the Third Hour Without Megyn Kelly," 29 Oct. 2018 Because the stakes were so high and the world was so dangerous and people were dying left, right, and center. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "8 Questions That Need To Be Answered In 'Legacies' Season 1," 26 Oct. 2018 This Santoku's quickly become my go-to while cooking, leaving my poor butcher's block to sit in the corner, collecting dust. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "Chrissy Teigen's $15 Chef's Knife Works As Well As Ones That Are 3x As Expensive," 22 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 By our estimate, that would give her a maternity leave of about three months, give or take. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "When Is Carrie Underwood's Baby Due?," 30 Sep. 2018 The situation is under investigation, and this employee has been placed on administrative leave effective immediately. Mekita Rivas, Teen Vogue, "A High School Assistant Principal Told Students to "Blame the Girls" for Dress Code Rules," 27 Sep. 2018 Crawford took a brief leave, mourned with his family and tried to use the diamond as an escape. John Shea, SFChronicle.com, "Brandon Crawford’s All-Star journey: From family tragedy to national spotlight," 12 July 2018 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

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

28 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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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

What made you want to look up leave? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

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