[ leev ]
See synonyms for: leaveleavesleavingleft on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object),left, leav·ing.
  1. to go out of or away from, as a place: to leave the house.

  2. to depart from permanently; quit: to leave a job.

  1. to let remain or have remaining behind after going, disappearing, ceasing, etc.: I left my wallet home. The wound left a scar.

  2. to allow to remain in the same place, condition, etc.: Is there any coffee left?

  3. to let stay or be as specified: to leave a door unlocked.

  4. to let (a person or animal) remain in a position to do something without interference: We left him to his work.

  5. to let (a thing) remain for action or decision: We left the details to the lawyer.

  6. to give in charge; deposit; entrust: Leave the package with the receptionist.I left my name and phone number.

  7. to stop; cease; give up: He left music to study law.

  8. to disregard; neglect: We will leave this for the moment and concentrate on the major problem.

  9. to give for use after one's death or departure: to leave all one's money to charity.

  10. to have remaining after death: He leaves a wife and three children.

  11. to have as a remainder after subtraction: 2 from 4 leaves 2.

  12. Nonstandard. let1 (defs. 1, 2, 6).

verb (used without object),left, leav·ing.
  1. to go away, depart, or set out: We leave for Europe tomorrow.

Verb Phrases
  1. leave off,

    • to desist from; cease; stop; abandon.

    • to stop using or wearing: It had stopped raining, so we left off our coats.

    • to omit: to leave a name off a list.

  2. leave out, to omit; exclude: She left out an important detail in her account.

Idioms about leave

  1. leave alone,

    • Also let alone . to refrain from annoying or interfering with: Those kids wouldn't leave the dog alone, and he eventually turned on them.She finally shouted, “Leave me alone!” at the man who had been following her for several blocks.

    • to allow or cause (someone) to be left on their own: Leave him alone—he wants to rest.They left me all alone, and I couldn’t figure out how to get back home.

  2. leave well enough alone. alone (def. 8).

Origin of leave

First recorded before 900; Middle English leven “to stop, cease, discontinue; abandon; allow; depart, leave,” Old English lǣfan “to leave; remain; have or be left remaining”; cognate with Old High German leiban (compare German bleiben “to remain”), Old Norse leifa “to leave, leave behind, leave (food) as a leftover, bequeath, abandon,” Gothic bilaibjan “to leave, leave behind, forsake”; see also lave2

usage note For leave

Leave is interchangeable with let when followed by alone with the sense “to refrain from annoying or interfering with”: Leave (or Let ) her alone and she will solve the problem easily. When he was left (or let ) alone without interruptions, the boy quickly assembled the apparatus. The use of leave alone for let alone in the sense “not to mention” is nonstandard: There wasn't any standing room, let (not leave ) alone a seat, so I missed the performance.
Other substitutions of leave for let are generally regarded as nonstandard: Let (not Leave ) us sit down and talk this over. Let (not Leave ) her do it her own way. The police wouldn't let (not leave ) us cross the barriers. See also let1.

Other words for leave

Opposites for leave

Other words from leave

  • leav·er, noun

Words Nearby leave

Other definitions for leave (2 of 3)

[ leev ]

  1. permission to do something: to beg leave to go elsewhere.

  2. permission to be absent, as from work or military duty: The firm offers a maternity leave as part of its benefit program.

  1. the time this permission lasts: 30 days' leave.

  2. a parting; departure; farewell: He took his leave before the formal ceremonies began.We took leave of them after dinner.

  3. Metallurgy. draft (def. 23).

  4. Bowling. the pin or pins in upright position after the bowl of the first ball.

Origin of leave

First recorded before 900; Middle English leve, leave, leife “permission, permission to go, farewell,” Old English lēaf “permission, license”; akin to believe, furlough, lief

Other words for leave

Other definitions for leave (3 of 3)

[ leev ]

verb (used without object),leaved, leav·ing.
  1. to put forth leaves; leaf.

Origin of leave

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English leven, lefie, derivative of lef “leaf”; see leaf

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use leave in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for leave (1 of 3)


/ (liːv) /

verbleaves, leaving or left (mainly tr)
  1. (also intr) to go or depart (from a person or place)

  2. to cause to remain behind, often by mistake, in a place: he often leaves his keys in his coat

  1. to cause to be or remain in a specified state: paying the bill left him penniless

  2. to renounce or abandon: to leave a political movement

  3. to refrain from consuming or doing something: the things we have left undone

  4. to result in; cause: childhood problems often leave emotional scars

  5. to allow to be or remain subject to another person or thing: leave the past to look after itself

  6. to entrust or commit: leave the shopping to her

  7. to submit in place of one's personal appearance: will you leave your name and address?

  8. to pass in a specified direction: flying out of the country, we left the cliffs on our left

  9. to be survived by (members of one's family): he leaves a wife and two children

  10. to bequeath or devise: he left his investments to his children

  11. (tr) to have as a remainder: 37 – 14 leaves 23

  12. not standard to permit; let

  13. leave be informal to leave undisturbed

  14. leave go or leave hold of not standard to stop holding

  15. leave it at that informal to take a matter no further

  16. leave much to be desired to be very unsatisfactory

  17. leave someone alone

  18. leave someone to himself not to control or direct someone

Origin of leave

Old English lǣfan; related to belīfan to be left as a remainder

Derived forms of leave

  • leaver, noun

British Dictionary definitions for leave (2 of 3)


/ (liːv) /

  1. permission to do something: he was granted leave to speak

  2. by your leave or with your leave with your permission

  1. permission to be absent, as from a place of work or duty: leave of absence

  2. the duration of such absence: ten days' leave

  3. a farewell or departure (esp in the phrase take (one's) leave)

  4. on leave officially excused from work or duty

  5. take leave to say farewell (to)

  6. take leave of one's senses to go mad or become irrational

Origin of leave

Old English lēaf; related to alӯfan to permit, Middle High German loube permission

British Dictionary definitions for leave (3 of 3)


/ (liːv) /

verbleaves, leaving or leaved
  1. (intr) to produce or grow leaves

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with leave


In addition to the idioms beginning with leave

  • leave a bad taste in one's mouth
  • leave alone
  • leave a lot to be desired
  • leave flat
  • leave hanging
  • leave holding the bag
  • leave in the lurch
  • leave no stone unturned
  • leave off
  • leave one cold
  • leave open
  • leave out
  • leave out in the cold
  • leave out of account
  • leave someone alone
  • leave someone in peace
  • leave someone in the lurch
  • leave someone to his or her resources
  • leave the door open
  • leave to someone's own devices
  • leave to someone's tender mercies
  • leave well enough alone
  • leave without a leg to stand on
  • leave word

also see:

  • absent without leave
  • (leave) high and dry
  • (leave) out in the cold
  • take it or leave it
  • take leave of
  • take one's leave

Also see underlet.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.