There are 3 main definitions of leave in English:


Line breaks: leave
Pronunciation: /liːv

verb (past and past participle left /lɛft/)

1 [with object] Go away from: she left London on June 6 [no object]: we were almost the last to leave the England team left for Pakistan on Monday
More example sentences
  • As they came to the end of their set they left the Academy to masses of cheers.
  • A young college teacher leaves China for the United States in search of a better future.
  • An engineering locomotive came off the tracks as it was leaving Chiswick Park Station just after midnight on Saturday morning.
depart from, go away from, go from, withdraw from, retire from, take oneself off from, exit from, take one's leave of, pull out of, quit, be gone from, decamp from, disappear from, abandon, vacate, absent oneself from, evacuate;
say one's farewells/goodbyes, make off, clear out, make oneself scarce, check out;
abscond from, run away from, flee (from), fly from, bolt from, go AWOL, take French leave, escape (from)
informal push off, shove off, cut, cut and run, do a bunk, do a disappearing act, split, vamoose, scoot, clear off, take off, make tracks, up sticks, pack one's bags, flit
British informal sling one's hook
set off, head, make, begin one's journey, set sail
1.1Depart from permanently: at the age of sixteen he left home
1.2Cease attending (a school or college) or working for (an organization): she is leaving the BBC after 20 years
More example sentences
  • Robin leaves the School in the autumn after sixteen years to retire in South West France, with his wife, Verna.
  • Yup, they are singing my praises now that I am leaving high school and going to college.
  • After leaving primary school he went to Norwood College, a public school at Sedbergh not far from Kendal.
quit, give up, abandon, move from, resign from, retire from, bow out of, step down from, withdraw from, get out of, pull out of, back out of
2 [with object] Allow or cause to remain: the parts he disliked he would alter and the parts he didn’t dislike he’d leave
More example sentences
  • Additionally, if you leave an empty non-stick pan on a hot burner too long, you can roast the surface.
  • More commonly some material is left behind and only when it is removed surgically will bleeding cease.
2.1 (be left) Remain to be used or dealt with: we’ve even got one of the Christmas puddings left over from last year [with infinitive]: a retired person with no mortgage left to pay
More example sentences
  • Any sum that happens to be left over when a child reaches maturity is not liable to tax.
  • The four cards that are left over at the end of the deal are set aside until the end of the hand.
  • This compromise gives more certainty that more money will be left over for residents in the two areas.
2.2 [with object and adverbial of place] Go away from a place without taking (someone or something): we had not left any of our belongings behind figurative women had been left behind in the struggle for pay equality
More example sentences
  • You must go online or risk being left behind in the Internet Age, they are warned.
  • The independent sector was not left behind in the celebration of new heights being reached yesterday.
  • Since she was young, it may be that both ovaries were left behind at the time of hysterectomy.
leave behind, omit to take, forget, lose, mislay
2.3Abandon (a spouse or partner): her boyfriend left her for another woman
More example sentences
  • Fathers prefer boys to such an extent that if they only had girls, they were more likely to leave their wife or partner.
  • Worse, eight out of ten find a PC failure more stressful than being left by their partner.
  • One woman phoned us to say she would leave but her partner threatened to do to her what he did to his wife if she did.
abandon, desert, discard, turn one's back on, cast aside, cast off, jilt, leave in the lurch, leave high and dry, throw over, leave stranded, brush off
informal dump, ditch, chuck, drop, walk out on, run out on, rat on, leave flat
British informal give someone the push, give someone the elbow, give someone the big E, bin off
archaic forsake
2.4Have as (a surviving relative) after one’s death: he leaves a wife and three children
More example sentences
  • If at the time of her death, a widow leaves no eligible minor child, the payment of her share of the pension will cease.
  • As well as her parents and sister, she leaves a niece Kim and nephew Josh.
  • He leaves wife Norma, children Lee, Jesse and Caitlin, and grandkids Mathew, Jordon, Jamie and Emma.
2.5Bequeath (property) to a person or other beneficiary by a will: he left £500 to the National Asthma Campaign [with two objects]: Cornelius had left her fifty pounds a year for life
3 [with object and adverbial or complement] Cause (someone or something) to be in a particular state or position: he’ll leave you in no doubt about what he thinks I’ll leave the door open the children were left with feelings of loss
More example sentences
  • I am not sure if the position we are left with here truly counts as being a religious one or not.
  • She was left with terrible injuries.
  • The psychiatrist says there is nothing he can do and the carer is left with no avenue open to him but to keep on caring the best way he can.
3.1 [with object and infinitive] Let (someone) do or deal with something without offering help or assistance: infected people are often rejected by family and friends, leaving them to face this chronic condition alone
More example sentences
  • She got over it with tickles and biscuits, then strolled out into the garden, leaving me to deal with a spider the size of a cricket ball on the carpet in the lounge.
  • Teen years leave you to deal with a whole new choice of decisions to be made.
  • How dare he leave me to deal with everything, including his death, while I have to stay stuck in this body?
3.2 [with object] Cause to remain as a trace or record: dark fruit that would leave purple stains on the table napkins figurative they leave the impression that they can be bullied
More example sentences
  • We concentrate on phosphorus as the nutrient that is biolimiting on geological time scales and potentially leaves a complete geological record.
  • The fourth walking appendage usually leaves the most lasting trace.
  • It chews its feet throughout the interview, leaving a damp doggy stain on the carpet.
3.3 [with object] Deposit or entrust to be kept, collected, or attended to: she left a note for me
More example sentences
  • He was further outraged when he found the bag, left by refuse collectors, had no air holes in it.
  • Right, I leave myself notes in the text bit of my phone if I've not got a notepad with me.
  • Steve's tears were gone by the time he fell asleep, and Jude broke her calm for only a second to leave herself a mental note.
3.4 [with object] (leave something to) Entrust a decision, choice, or action to (someone else, especially someone considered better qualified): the choice of which link to take is generally left up to the reader
More example sentences
  • It is is irrelevant to his day job as party leader and I think he could have left it to someone else.
  • The article leaves it to the imagination how exactly the leftover bees in the cavity are to be killed.
  • But there is nothing inconsistent about leaving it to the states and not overturning the decision.


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(In snooker, croquet, and other games) the position in which a player leaves the balls for the next player.


Old English lǣfan 'bequeath', also 'allow to remain, leave in place' of Germanic origin; related to German bleiben 'remain'.


be left at the post

Be beaten from the start of a race or competition.
More example sentences
  • In the Derby, she was left at the post, and her rider galloped her hard to get into good position.
  • The relegation issue delayed meaningful negotiations and we have been left at the post in the signings race.
  • Unless U.S. statesmen can wangle the rights to their use, the U.S. will be left at the post.

be left for dead

Be abandoned as being almost dead or certain to die: she was left for dead after being repeatedly hit over the head with a rock
More example sentences
  • He collapsed after reaching the top of Everest and was left for dead above 8000 metres by Sherpas.
  • What was once a world icon is now stipulated to be left for dead in the wake of the devastating plague.
  • He's a bigger person than most people would be who were left for dead by their friends, their teammates.

be left to oneself

Be alone or solitary: left to himself he removed his shirt and tie
More example sentences
  • For this young person to be left to herself in a country so far away could only expose her to danger.
  • All the conditions of line 6 are unfavourable, and its subject is left to himself without any helpers.
  • The blessedness of this doctrine is that he shall not be left to himself nor suffered to perish.
Be allowed to do what one wants: women, left to themselves, would make the world a beautiful place to live in
More example sentences
  • Otherwise we were left to ourselves in the simple guest house which is used for retreats.
  • These people have their own ways and would rather be left to themselves.
  • It probably won't happen, however, if Bush's Washington is left to itself.

leave someone/thing alone

see alone.

leave someone be

informal Refrain from disturbing or interfering with someone: why can’t you all just leave me be?
More example sentences
  • The facilities were good and clean, the staff were helpful and left us be when we wanted to be left.
  • He would have gotten more respect out of me if he just left me be when I asked him to.
  • Those who want our business approach us with friendly calls, and leave us be when we decline their offers.

leave someone cold

Fail to interest someone: the Romantic poets left him cold
More example sentences
  • He tends to leave me cold and I can't say I've enjoyed any of his films for over a decade.
  • Talk about having problems with billing - our experience with them has left us cold about their services.
  • If the last one left you cold, then only consider it if competitive multiplayer is your thing.

leave go

British informal Remove one’s hold or grip: leave go of me!
More example sentences
  • In the event of both teams leaving go of the rope before a side marking has been pulled beyond the centre line marking on the ground, the Judge shall declare a ‘No Pull’ and the pull shall not constitute one of the requisite number for the match.

leave hold of

Cease holding.
More example sentences
  • Vasiliev, with whom I was walking hand in hand, suddenly left hold of my arm and sank upon the snow.
  • If so he would hardly have been prepared to leave hold of a piece of art of such a high quality.
  • Then the youth left hold of the cord for the first time in ten years, and a great joy descended upon him.

leave it at that

Abstain from further comment or action: if you are not sure of the answers, say so, and leave it at that
More example sentences
  • You're obviously going to leave it at that as you fail to find any more solid arguments to my replies.
  • Confronting the colleague is better than doing nothing, but leaving it at that doesn't go far enough.
  • We left it at that as I arrived home and walked into my house still jittery from the adrenaline.

leave much (or a lot) to be desired

Be highly unsatisfactory: their education leaves much to be desired
More example sentences
  • The architect they chose left a lot to be desired and the building gradually became vacant.
  • Many had come from standard, hierarchical organizations which left a lot to be desired on an individual level.
  • In its infancy, pin and ball were made of hardwood, leaving much to be desired with regard to uniformity.

Phrasal verbs

leave off

Discontinue (an activity): the dog left off chasing the sheep he resumed the other story at the point where the previous author had left off
More example sentences
  • He continued where he left off after the break and nearly gave his side the lead after 52 minutes.
  • In the second half the game continued in the same vein, where it left off at the break.
  • I swear it leaves off then, to resume work somewhere in my abdomen, causing the most uncomfortable swelling and, eventually, making it harder and harder to breath.
stop, cease, finish, desist from, keep from, break off, lay off, give up, discontinue, refrain from, restrain oneself from, hold back from, swear off, resist the temptation to, stop oneself from, withhold from, eschew;
conclude, terminate, suspend, bring to an end, renounce, forswear, forbear, relinquish;
North American quit
informal give over, knock off, jack something in

leave someone/thing out

Fail to include: it seemed unkind to leave Daisy out, so she was invited too (as adjective left out) Olivia was feeling rather left out
More example sentences
  • First of all, don't assume that the guys deliberately left you out or tried to make you look bad.
  • If the flowers are to be smelled along the way, that is a feminine prerogative, and leave us out of it.
  • There is no reason to leave us out of your tour dates, unless you simply don't want to come.
miss out, omit, omit by accident, fail to include, overlook, pass over, neglect to notice, leave unnoticed, forget;
skip, miss, jump
exclude, omit, except, eliminate, drop, count out, disregard, ignore, reject, pass over, neglect, cut out, do away with, bar, debar, keep out
(usually in imperative leave it out) British informal Stop it: ‘Leave it out,’ I said sternly, pushing him off



More example sentences
  • Although high levels of motivation are typical for non-school leavers, doing a degree is a long haul.
  • The share of all leavers who are disconnected rose between 1999 and 2002, from 9.8 percent to 13.8 percent.
  • I encourage all Year 12 school leavers to seriously consider the ADF Gap Year option.

Definition of leave in:

There are 3 main definitions of leave in English:


Line breaks: leave
Pronunciation: /liːv


[mass noun]
1 (also leave of absence) Time when one has permission to be absent from work or from duty in the armed forces: Joe was home on leave maternity leave
More example sentences
  • Requests for consecutive years of leave of absence shall be for the reasons provided in this policy.
  • You are not allowed to enroll full-time in another university while on a leave of absence from Duke.
  • Full-time officers of research may take leaves of absence according to the policies described below.
holiday, break, time off, furlough, sabbatical, leave of absence, a day/week/month off, leisure time, respite, breathing space;
North American vacation
informal hols, vac
North American informal vacay
2 [often with infinitive] Permission: leave from the court to commence an action
More example sentences
  • The applicant seeks leave to appeal from a decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court.
  • It is against that dismissal that the applicant seeks leave to appeal to this Court.
  • I also seek leave to file in Court and read an affidavit sworn today.
permission, consent, authorization, sanction, warrant, dispensation, concession, indulgence, approval, clearance, blessing, agreement, backing, assent, acceptance, confirmation, ratification, mandate, licence, acquiescence, concurrence, liberty, freedom
informal the go-ahead, the green light, the OK, the rubber stamp


Old English lēaf 'permission', of West Germanic origin; related to lief and love.


by (or with) your leave

1With your permission: with your leave, I will send him your address
More example sentences
  • Even by your leave Robin, it is not fitting for my order to strike a yeoman for fear an injury he may receive.
  • Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker), and with your leave, Mr. O'Brien, he will speak to amendment No.27 in a moment.
  • And finally, with your leave, I'll sit down and satisfy my cravings of to-day, and leave to-morrow to shift for itself - who knows but what I may secure both this and that?
2 informal An apology for rude or unwelcome behaviour: she came in without so much as a by your leave
More example sentences
  • I was put on hold without so much as a by your leave.
  • No, here were some of the top people in the dotcom world and these youngsters just walked out on them in mid sentence without a by your leave.
  • My Lord, I ask for leave to appeal in respect of both of your Lordship's decisions, and with your leave I will go on to say why?

take one's leave

formal Say goodbye: he went to take his leave of his hostess
More example sentences
  • Our guests smile - The Artist's smile is rather perfunctory - and we take our leave of each other.
  • It is time to leave for home, and we take our leave of these gracious and courteous researchers.
  • Then she took her leave of Master Robert, and prayed him for his blessing, and so forth of other friends.

take leave of one's senses

see sense.

take leave to do something

formal Venture or presume to do something: whether this amounts to much, one may take leave to doubt
More example sentences
  • If there is a problem with mainstream media bias, which I take leave to doubt, the solution is not in a million blogs but in the conscious and deliberate pursuit of objectivity and even-handed treatment of the news.
  • In my calmer moments, however, I take leave to doubt whether that is so.
  • Otherwise, they might find hungry folks taking leave to make a fuel stop at the petrol station next door.

Definition of leave in: