verb (1)
\ ˈlēv How to pronounce leave (audio) \
left\ ˈleft How to pronounce left (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 Siemian went 3-of-6 for three passing yards before leaving the game. Charlotte Carroll, SI.com, "Jets Quarterback Trevor Siemian Out Year With Ankle Injury," 17 Sep. 2019 Richman’s band the Modern Lovers had a formative effect on The Cars: drummer David Robinson teamed up with Ocasek in the mid-’70s after leaving the Modern Lovers. Eric R. Danton, Fortune, "Just What I Needed: Beyond The Cars, Ric Ocasek Also Left a Producing Legacy," 17 Sep. 2019 After leaving the shop, Rivera Jr. went to his brother’s house to clean up, and then, along with his father and brother, went to the auto shop owner’s house to bury the body. David Harris, orlandosentinel.com, "Documents detail elaborate father-son scheme to cover up Winter Garden teen’s killing," 17 Sep. 2019 After leaving the church, Cormie filed a police report with the Blackwell Police Department. NBC News, "Church under investigation for allegedly holding down gay man to pray away sexuality," 17 Sep. 2019 Even after leaving the shoreline and moving to Hartford, Petra would visit High Hopes and unfailingly brought with her a cherished piece of history. courant.com, "Petra Elaine Shearer," 17 Sep. 2019 Viewers will swipe left/right to make pivotal choices for the story’s character (like in the Black Mirror movie Bandersnatch). James Hibberd, EW.com, "Tinder series to match viewers based on end-of-the-world choices," 17 Sep. 2019 Danny, 13, and Noah, 11, were reported missing Saturday afternoon when the two never returned home after leaving around 1 p.m. near 20th Street and Roeser Road, according to police. Ethan Schmidt, azcentral, "Danny and Noah Vargas, 13 and 11, found safe after going missing 2 days ago, say Phoenix police," 16 Sep. 2019 After leaving the river, the fish turn north and travel to the North Pacific, near the Aleutian Islands. Jim Robbins, New York Times, "How Long Before These Salmon Are Gone? ‘Maybe 20 Years’," 16 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Inspector General Carolyn Ham has been on leave from her position since March 18, when DHS began investigating a complaint against her. Ryan Faircloth, Twin Cities, "MN DHS revamps troubled office that investigates child care fraud. ‘Extremely impressed,’ one critic says.," 27 Oct. 2019 Currently a fellow at Georgetown University on leave from the State Department, Yovonavitch is scheduled to give a deposition to investigating committees on Friday. Anchorage Daily News, "Senior adviser to Pompeo resigns," 11 Oct. 2019 Steve Braun, brother of Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, will be on leave from his 5th Congressional District race in that state, per the Indianapolis Star. cleveland, "Trump’s trade war, General Motors strike are putting strain on the Midwestern economy: The Flyover," 8 Oct. 2019 Now the other executive most prominently associated with the cover-up, Peter Cohen, has been put on leave from his current job as director of development for computer science and data initiatives at Brown University. Fortune, "Tina Turner Doesn’t Feel Like Part of the #MeToo Movement: Broadsheet," 10 Sep. 2019 According to the Blue Mountain Eagle, Smith joined the department in 2014, and had been on administrative leave from the department since Aug. 9. oregonlive, "Grant County Sheriff’s deputy arrested on suspicion of attempted rape, child neglect," 9 Sep. 2019 If the city formally files administrative charges with the Chicago Police Board, Kelly, who has been on disability leave from the force for several months, can fight the findings. Jeff Coen, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago police officer should be fired for shooting friend nearly a decade ago, lying about it, oversight agency says," 9 Sep. 2019 Cook is now on administrative leave from Polk County Schools and is waiting for the outcome of a district investigation, The Ledger reported. Ricky Pinela, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida teacher Baker Acted after describing way to kill students: report," 23 Aug. 2019 On June 10, while still on leave from his job, Storlie was involved in another family disturbance and was arrested by San Antonio police. Peggy O’hare, ExpressNews.com, "Bexar County sheriff’s corporal arrested again after another family violence incident," 23 Aug. 2019

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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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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More from Merriam-Webster on leave

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for leave

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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 engage in dissolute behavior

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