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 Some staff involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave pending the investigative results. Meredith Spelbring, Detroit Free Press, "Washtenaw sheriff opens internal investigation after video shows deputy punching woman," 26 May 2020 Last July, the seven other teams in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association informed UAH of their intent to leave the leave the league after the 2020-21 season -- basically leaving UAH without a place to play. Lee Roop | Lroop@al.com, al, "UAH cancels ice hockey, tennis programs citing coronavirus," 22 May 2020 Imagining that’s the case, however, is less challenging that talking about what actually will help workers: hazard pay, paycheck protections, paid medical leave, proper safety equipment, and robust testing. Matthew Sitman, The New Republic, "Why the Pandemic Is Driving Conservative Intellectuals Mad," 21 May 2020 The school board voted against Bruce’s termination last summer, though he was placed under administrative leave after the allegations surfaced. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "Jason Ward accepts challenge after scandal hit Tri-West: ‘Who is going to be the man to step up.'," 19 May 2020 Pariya Coene, a Glen Park resident on maternity leave from her consulting job, was out of the house Monday for one of the first times since her son was born Jan. 18. Shwanika Narayan, SFChronicle.com, "Coronavirus: Few show up for retail reopening in San Francisco," 18 May 2020 Haskin said that if a workplace has instituted proper precautions and an employee is not eligible for leave under the FFCRA, they are expected to return to work. Matthew Vantryon, The Indianapolis Star, "Worried about contracting coronavirus when you return to work? Here's what you should know," 13 May 2020 During the lockdown, her driver is on leave and public transport is unavailable. Priti Salian, Quartz India, "Differently abled Indian healthcare workers fight a lonely battle against Covid-19," 8 May 2020 In California and Rhode Island, men account for almost 40% of parental leave claims. Deborah Widiss, The Conversation, "Parental leave laws don’t do enough for single moms – but there’s a way to fix that," 6 May 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

Cite this Entry

“Leave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leave. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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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

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