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

Property owners describe acres of dead trees, killed by spruce beetles, that have left the forests full of kindling. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "Mandatory evacuations lifted for upstart wildfire near Talkeetna," 8 July 2019 Now 41, Halprin was originally sent to death row for his role in a 2000 prison escape and crime spree that left dead Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Execution date set for ‘Texas 7’ prisoner who accused judge of anti-Semitism," 8 July 2019 Bill said her mother was deeply touched by one of the stories in the hour-long premiere: a look at Molly’s grandfather, who left his traditional drum with a friend way back in his youth. Washington Post, "First US children’s series with Alaska Native lead kicks off," 8 July 2019 Deutsche Bank said the combination would not make business sense, but that left open the question of what strategy the bank could pursue to make its business leaner and more profitable. Time, "Deutsche Bank to Slash 18,000 Jobs in a Sweeping Restructuring," 8 July 2019 LeSure, who Bravo describes as a numbers-savvy former financier, also has a bankruptcy in his past that left $467,000 in claims unpaid, according to court records. Tim Evans, Indianapolis Star, "The 'Flipping Exes' baggage Bravo's not talking about: Bankruptcy, lawsuits, late taxes," 8 July 2019 Huerter, who like Fernando left College Park after his sophomore year, was the No. Don Markus, baltimoresun.com, "Sources: Maryland's Fernando to sign three-year guaranteed contract with Atlanta Hawks," 8 July 2019 Buchanan was among four people shot outside a La Jolla house party last month, a drive-by ambush that left a 20-year-old Poway woman dead. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Former Madison High football player recovering after La Jolla shooting," 7 July 2019 Wolff, who left Oklahoma State after winning the NCAA individual title in May, was making just his third start as a professional. Daniel Rapaport, SI.com, "20-Year-Old Phenom Matthew Wolff Eagles 18 to Win First PGA Tour Event," 7 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Employees will also be eligible for an excess annual leave payout for up to 80 hours of excess annual leave per year. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al.com, "ADOC unveils new correctional officer salary packages," 9 July 2019 Just days away was the group's spring meeting in Washington, D.C., where members and government sponsors would refine the dozen or so problems Jason would tackle in San Diego, California, during members' summer leave from their campuses and labs. Ann Finkbeiner, Science | AAAS, "Jason—a secretive group of Cold War science advisers—is fighting to survive in the 21st century," 27 June 2019 As the pressure mounted, UBS put Mr Donovan on leave. The Economist, "UBS faces a China backlash because of a quip about pigs," 21 June 2019 Food aggregator Zomato, for instance, recently announced 26 weeks of paternity leave. Nupur Anand, Quartz India, "Infosys and L&T are the only Indian firms in a new list of 10 best employers in the country," 18 June 2019 The Cut reports that Ardern — who assumed office late last year — will take six weeks of parental leave before returning to work. Emma Krupp, RedEye Chicago, "The new 'Roseanne,' a MoviePass surge charge, and more conversation starters for your weekend," 29 June 2018 Multinational drug makers in China are fighting to hold on to top talent as senior local staff leave to join a booming domestic biotechnology sector drawing record investment, The Financial Times tells us. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharmalittle: Chinese companies poaching big pharma talent; a battle over generic Suboxone looms," 18 June 2018 Another solution—and a good one for curly- and wavy-haired men in particular—is to use a leave-in conditioner, applied after the shower. Adam Hurly, GQ, "7 Beauty Products You Should Definitely Steal from Your Lady Friend's Cabinet," 31 May 2018 At a few work events in March, her last month of public royal duty before starting maternity leave, she was seen only wearing her wedding band. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Apparently Updated Her Engagement Ring to Include More Stones," 24 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

11 Jul 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).


food or victuals

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