verb (1)
\ ˈlēv How to pronounce leave (audio) \
left\ ˈleft How to pronounce leave (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 The old system encouraged companies to book profits abroad and leave them there. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Biden Tax Plan Takes Aim at Trump-Era Investment Incentive," 7 May 2021 The woman was verbally hostile toward police and screamed to leave her alone. cleveland, "Don’t touch that dial while drunk driving: Middleburg Heights Police Blotter," 6 May 2021 Closing the divide requires everyone from technologists and designers to employers and governments to recognize that — and lead with that principle in decision-making, not leave it as an afterthought. Harold Li, Forbes, "The Pandemic Has Unmasked The Digital Privacy Divide," 5 May 2021 Some property owners have argued eviction bans leave them saddled with tenants who were delinquent even before the pandemic. BostonGlobe.com, "Judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions," 5 May 2021 Some property owners have argued that eviction bans leave them saddled with tenants who were delinquent even before the pandemic. Author: David Yaffe-bellany, Noah Buhayar, Anchorage Daily News, "Federal judge blocks CDC’s nationwide moratorium on renter evictions," 5 May 2021 Redirecting your energy into something positive can help that time from being a waste—and leave you feeling better overall. Elizabeth Sheldon, Good Housekeeping, "Swap Mindless Scrolling for These Satisfying Cleaning Tasks," 3 May 2021 The aquifer program pays to buy land above the aquifer, the city’s primary source of drinking water, to leave it in its natural state. Joshua Fechter, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg wins a third term as former Councilman Greg Brockhouse concedes," 2 May 2021 Let go of the habits that leave you feeling exhausted. Meghan Rose, Glamour, "Pisces Tarot Horoscopes: May 2021," 1 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Build in proper lunch breaks, take a sick day, use a few days of vacation or ask for a longer leave. Caroline Ceniza-levine, Forbes, "What Is The Best Career Path For Balancing Work And Family?," 8 May 2021 The company aggressively offered buyout and voluntary leave packages to flight attendants and other employees last year and cut back on hours to accommodate flying schedules that were reduced by the pandemic. Dallas News, "Southwest Airlines will hire flight attendants again as demand returns to air travel," 7 May 2021 The human toll of the earthquake remains incalculable, but one glimmer of light is this: Haitian authorities said Lovelie, 11, and Wisken, 7, could at last leave for their new home in the United States. Erik Brady, USA TODAY, "The boy who loved soccer in Haiti grew up to love football in Buffalo," 7 May 2021 Perhaps the next major parental leave reform will grow from discussions and coalitions forged in the Capitol and other lactation rooms nationwide. Time, "The Invisible Labor Inside America's Lactation Rooms," 7 May 2021 At the midcareer level, the number of women falls sharply, a drop many attributed to maternity leave policies. Nicole Gaouette, CNN, "Blinken's battle to make State Department more diverse will face steep resistance, diplomats of color say," 6 May 2021 When both were home for Christmas in 1999 — Edward on leave and Christina from her senior year of college — Edward proposed. Katie V. Jones, baltimoresun.com, "‘Everyone’s stories are important’: Columbia couple writes and publishes memoir during COVID pandemic," 6 May 2021 Instead of trying to ramp up immigration, some governments have tried subsidizing fertility treatments, offering free day care and generous parental leave, and paying thousands of dollars in cash grants to parents. Washington Post, "The U.S. birth rate is falling. Here’s how other countries have tried to convince people to have more kids.," 5 May 2021 So think about it— no parental leave, no sick leave, extremely difficult to get a child-care subsidy. New York Times, "The U.S. Birthrate Has Dropped Again. The Pandemic May Be Accelerating the Decline.," 5 May 2021

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

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Leave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leave. Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on leave

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for leave

Nglish: Translation of leave for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of leave for Arabic Speakers

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