Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English leven, from Old English lǣfan (to leave), from Proto-Germanic *laibijaną (to let stay, leave), causative of *lībaną (to stay, remain), from Proto-Indo-European *leyp- (to stick; fat). Cognate with Old Frisian lēva (to leave), Old Saxon lēvian, Old High German leiban (to leave), Old Norse leifa (to leave over) (whence Icelandic leifa (to leave food uneaten)), lifna (to be left) (whence Danish levne). More at lave, belive.


leave (third-person singular simple present leaves, present participle leaving, simple past and past participle left)

  1. To have a consequence or remnant.
    1. (transitive) To cause or allow (something) to remain as available; to refrain from taking (something) away; to stop short of consuming or otherwise depleting (something) entirely.
      I left my car at home and took a bus to work.
      The ants did not leave so much as a crumb of bread.
      There's not much food left. We'd better go to the shops.
      • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
        […] St. Bede's at this period of its history was perhaps the poorest and most miserable parish in the East End of London. Close-packed, crushed by the buttressed height of the railway viaduct, rendered airless by huge walls of factories, it at once banished lively interest from a stranger's mind and left only a dull oppression of the spirit.
      • 2013 May-June, David Van Tassel, Lee DeHaan, “Wild Plants to the Rescue”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3:
        Plant breeding is always a numbers game. []. The wild species we use are rich in genetic variation, []. In addition, we are looking for rare alleles, so the more plants we try, the better. These rarities may be new mutations, or they can be existing ones that are neutral—or are even selected against—in a wild population. A good example is mutations that disrupt seed dispersal, leaving the seeds on the heads long after they are ripe.
    2. (transitive or intransitive, copulative) To cause, to result in.
      The lightning left her dazzled for several minutes.
      Infantile paralysis left him lame for the rest of his life.
      She left disappointed.
      • 1899, Stephen Crane, chapter 1, in Twelve O'Clock:
        There was some laughter, and Roddle was left free to expand his ideas on the periodic visits of cowboys to the town. “Mason Rickets, he had ten big punkins a-sittin' in front of his store, an' them fellers from the Upside-down-F ranch shot 'em up [].”
      • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 23, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
        The slightest effort made the patient cough. He would stand leaning on a stick and holding a hand to his side, and when the paroxysm had passed it left him shaking.
      • 2013 July 20, “Out of the gloom”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
        [Rural solar plant] schemes are of little help to industry or other heavy users of electricity. Nor is solar power yet as cheap as the grid. For all that, the rapid arrival of electric light to Indian villages is long overdue. When the national grid suffers its next huge outage, as it did in July 2012 when hundreds of millions were left in the dark, look for specks of light in the villages.
    3. (transitive) To put; to place; to deposit; to deliver, with a sense of withdrawing oneself.
      Leave your hat in the hall.
      We should leave the legal matters to lawyers.
      I left my sewing and went to the window to watch the falling snow.
  2. To depart; to separate from.
    1. To let be or do without interference.
      I left him to his reflections.
      I leave my hearers to judge.
    2. (transitive) To depart from; to end one's connection or affiliation with.
      I left the country and I left my wife.
    3. (transitive) To end one's membership in (a group); to terminate one's affiliation with (an organization); to stop participating in (a project).
      • 2018, The Independent, "Brexit: Theresa May 'not bluffing' in threat to leave EU without a deal, Tory minister Liam Fox says"
        If we were to leave, the economic impact on a number of European countries would be severe.
      I left the band.
    4. (intransitive) To depart; to go away from a certain place or state.
      I think you'd better leave.
  3. To transfer something.
    1. (transitive) To transfer possession of after death.
      When my father died, he left me the house.
    2. (transitive) To give (something) to someone; to deliver (something) to a repository; to deposit.
      I'll leave the car in the station so you can pick it up there.
    3. (transitive) To transfer responsibility or attention of (something) (to someone); to stop being concerned with.
      Can't we just leave this to the experts?
  4. (intransitive, obsolete) To remain (behind); to stay.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, “xj”, in Le Morte Darthur, book XVIII:
      And whanne sire launcelot sawe them fare soo / he gat a spere in his hand / and there encountred with hym al attones syr bors sir Ector and sire Lyonel / and alle they thre smote hym atte ones with their speres / [] / and by mysfortune sir bors smote syre launcelot thurgh the shelde in to the syde / and the spere brake / and the hede lefte stylle in his syde
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter II, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314:
      Carried somehow, somewhither, for some reason, on these surging floods, were these travelers, []. Even such a boat as the Mount Vernon offered a total deck space so cramped as to leave secrecy or privacy well out of the question, even had the motley and democratic assemblage of passengers been disposed to accord either.
  5. (transitive, archaic) To stop, desist from; to "leave off" (+ noun / gerund).
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Luke V:
      When he had leeft speakynge, he sayde vnto Simon: Cary vs into the depe, and lett slippe thy nette to make a draught.
    • 1716 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, The Basset-Table. An Eclogue.[1]
      Now leave Complaining, and begin your Tea.
Derived termsEdit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Etymology 2Edit

Formed in English by conversion (anthimeria) of the transitive verb leave (cause or allow to remain available). Attested since the 19th century, with earliest references to billiards.[1]


leave (plural leaves)

  1. (cricket) The action of the batsman not attempting to play at the ball.
  2. (billiards) The arrangement of balls in play that remains after a shot is made (which determines whether the next shooter — who may be either the same player, or an opponent — has good options, or only poor ones).
    • 1890 February 27, “Slosson’s Close Shave”, in New York Times[2]:
      Having counted 38 points he tried a beautiful massé out of the corner, hit the first ball just a trifle too hard and kissed his own ball off just when victory seemed to be his. The leave was unfortunate for Ives. Slosson played brilliantly and ran the game out, a close winner, with 22 points.

Etymology 3Edit

From Middle English leve, from Old English lēaf (permission, privilege), from Proto-Germanic *laubō, *laubą (permission, privilege, favour, worth), from Proto-Indo-European *lewbʰ- (to love, hold dear). Cognate with obsolete German Laube (permission), Swedish lov (permission), Icelandic leyfi (permission). Related to Dutch verlof, German Erlaubnis. See also love.


leave (countable and uncountable, plural leaves)

  1. Permission to be absent; time away from one's work.
    Synonyms: annual leave, holiday; see also Thesaurus:vacation
    I've been given three weeks' leave by my boss.
  2. (dated or law) Permission.
    Synonyms: authorisation, consent
    Might I beg leave to accompany you?
    The applicant now seeks leave to appeal and, if leave be granted, to appeal against these sentences.
  3. (dated) Farewell, departure.
    I took my leave of the gentleman without a backward glance.
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 4Edit

From Middle English leven, from Old English līefan (to allow, grant, concede; believe, trust, confide in), from Proto-Germanic *laubijaną (to allow, praise), from Proto-Indo-European *lewbʰ- (to love, hold dear). Cognate with German lauben (to allow, believe), Icelandic leyfa (to allow).


leave (third-person singular simple present leaves, present participle leaving, simple past and past participle leaved or left)

  1. (transitive) To give leave to; allow; permit; let; grant.
    We were not left go to the beach after school except on a weekend.

Etymology 5Edit

From Middle English leven, from lef (leaf). More at leaf.


leave (third-person singular simple present leaves, present participle leaving, simple past and past participle leaved)

  1. (intransitive, rare) To produce leaves or foliage.[2]
    • 1868, Edward Fitzgerald, The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, 2nd edition:
      Each Morn a thousand Roses brings, you say:
      Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?

Etymology 6Edit

From French lever. Compare levy.[3] Compare also Middle English leve, a variant of levy that may have been monosyllabic.[4]


leave (third-person singular simple present leaves, present participle leaving, simple past and past participle leaved)

  1. (obsolete) To raise; to levy.


  1. ^ leave, n.2.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September, 2016.
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.
  3. ^ James A. H. Murray [et al.], editors (1884–1928), “Leave, v3”, in A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford English Dictionary), volume VI, Part 1 (L), London: Clarendon Press, OCLC 15566697, page 165.
  4. ^ James A. H. Murray [et al.], editors (1884–1928), “Levy, v.”, in A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford English Dictionary), volume VI, Part 1 (L), London: Clarendon Press, OCLC 15566697, page 231.