verb (used with object), left, leav·ing.

verb (used without object), left, leav·ing.

to go away, depart, or set out: We leave for Europe tomorrow.

Verb Phrases

Nearby words

  1. leatheroid,
  2. leatherwear,
  3. leatherwood,
  4. leatherwork,
  5. leathery,
  6. leave a bad taste in one's mouth,
  7. leave a lot to be desired,
  8. leave alone,
  9. leave behind,
  10. leave flat

Origin of leave

before 900; Middle English leven, Old English lǣfan (causative formation from base of lāf remainder; see lave2); cognate with Old High German leiban (compare German bleiben to remain), Old Norse leifa, Gothic -laibjan

Related formsleav·er, noun

Usage note

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.




permission to do something: to beg leave to go elsewhere.
permission to be absent, as from work or military duty: The firm offers a maternity leave as part of its benefit program.
the time this permission lasts: 30 days' leave.
a parting; departure; farewell: He took his leave before the formal ceremonies began. We took leave of them after dinner.
Metallurgy. draft(def 23).
Bowling. the pin or pins in upright position after the bowl of the first ball.

Origin of leave

before 900; Middle English leve, Old English lēaf; akin to believe, furlough, lief



verb (used without object), leaved, leav·ing.

to put forth leaves; leaf.

Origin of leave

1250–1300; Middle English leven, derivative of lef leaf

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for leave

British Dictionary definitions for leave



verb leaves, leaving or left (mainly tr)

(also intr) to go or depart (from a person or place)
to cause to remain behind, often by mistake, in a placehe often leaves his keys in his coat
to cause to be or remain in a specified statepaying the bill left him penniless
to renounce or abandonto leave a political movement
to refrain from consuming or doing somethingthe things we have left undone
to result in; causechildhood problems often leave emotional scars
to allow to be or remain subject to another person or thingleave the past to look after itself
to entrust or commitleave the shopping to her
to submit in place of one's personal appearancewill you leave your name and address?
to pass in a specified directionflying out of the country, we left the cliffs on our left
to be survived by (members of one's family)he leaves a wife and two children
to bequeath or devisehe left his investments to his children
(tr) to have as a remainder37 – 14 leaves 23
not standard to permit; let
leave be informal to leave undisturbed
leave go or leave hold of not standard to stop holding
leave it at that informal to take a matter no further
leave much to be desired to be very unsatisfactory
leave someone alone
  1. Also: let alone See let 1 (def. 7)
  2. to permit to stay or be alone
leave someone to himself not to control or direct someone

Derived Formsleaver, noun

Word Origin for leave

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


permission to do somethinghe was granted leave to speak
by your leave or with your leave with your permission
permission to be absent, as from a place of work or dutyleave of absence
the duration of such absenceten days' leave
a farewell or departure (esp in the phrase take (one's) leave)
on leave officially excused from work or duty
take leave to say farewell (to)
take leave of one's senses to go mad or become irrational

Word Origin for leave

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

verb leaves, leaving or leaved

(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

Word Origin and History for leave
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.