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

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

This loss, however, left the coach and his team despondent, dulled by the team’s low level of energy throughout the match. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Three things we learned from Orlando City’s 3-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes," 3 Sep. 2019 Police were called to several stations after protesters jammed compartment doors to prevent trains from leaving. Time Staff, Time, "Students Boycott Classes on the First Day of the School Year in Hong Kong's Latest Democracy Protest," 2 Sep. 2019 Also leaving the game early was senior tackle Walker Little, one of the premier linemen in the country. Michelle Gardner, azcentral, "Pac-12 football power rankings: Utah takes top spot after win over BYU," 2 Sep. 2019 Pujols hit a ground-rule double to left, Trout scored, Goodwin to third. BostonGlobe.com, "MLB boxscore: Red Sox 4, Angels 3," 2 Sep. 2019 The Texans cut former Pro Bowl left offensive tackle Matt Kalil, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans cut Matt Kalil, save up to $5.25 million," 1 Sep. 2019 Clues are emerging about the unexpected influence of gene flow from ancient hominins on modern human populations before the latter left Africa. Wired, "Humans and Neanderthals Kept Breeding—and Breeding—for Ages," 1 Sep. 2019 Cox’s presence should help the Dolphins convert those tough short-yardage plays that have been problematic since Lousaka Polite left the franchise. Omar Kelly, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Kelly: Here’s a look at the Miami Dolphins’ highs and lows from training camp and preseason | Commentary," 1 Sep. 2019 Insurgent groups are continuing to negotiate with the U.S. and have demanded that all foreign forces leave the country. Fox News, "Taliban launch 'massive attack' on northern Afghanistan city, government says," 1 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The new line is set to include three conditioners, one leave-in conditioner, one shampoo, two hair oils, a travel-size set, and wash day accessories including a micro-fiber hair towel, in-shower hairbrush, and a hair clip. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "Tracee Ellis Ross Is Launching A New Hair Care Line," 3 Sep. 2019 There are rules for Allston Christmas, that special time of year when college students moving out of their apartments in the Boston neighborhood leave behind unwanted furniture, clothes, and appliances for the students moving in. Maria Cramer, BostonGlobe.com, "It’s tradition: Students scrounging through leftovers on the street. But skip the mattresses," 1 Sep. 2019 Maryland later fired head coach DJ Durkin, who had been previously placed on leave, on October 31, 2018. Jenna West, SI.com, "Maryland Players and More Pay Tribute to Jordan McNair After 79–0 Win," 31 Aug. 2019 An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer is on leave Friday in the wake of a video that appears to show him striking a 17-year-old student in the face at Shortridge High School. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis police officer on leave after video shows him appearing to strike Shortridge student," 30 Aug. 2019 The state also came sixth for best parental leave policies, and was ranked No. 8 for low birth weights among newborns. Rex Crum, The Mercury News, "Where does California rank for having a baby in the U.S.?," 12 Aug. 2019 In other parts of the world, menstrual leave policies have emerged more on a company-by-company basis. Katie Hunt, CNN, "Period pain linked to nearly 9 days of lost productivity a year," 27 June 2019 That's because for years, U.S. Soccer treated pregnancy as a career-ending injury and didn't develop a maternity-leave policy, under pressure from players, until contentious contract talks in 1999. Liz Clarke, Anchorage Daily News, "U.S. women’s soccer team is fighting two battles — for a World Cup title, and for equality," 11 June 2019 The April study was based not only on the wage gap, but other factors like unemployment, percentage of female business owners and parental leave policies. Anna Bauman, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit ranked top place for women in the workplace, new study shows," 4 June 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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Statistics for leave

Last Updated

5 Sep 2019

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
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

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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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