Main definitions of leave in English

: leave1leave2



  • 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’
    • ‘No-one issued a bill is allowed to leave Australia until every last cent has been paid off.’
    • ‘It is expected it will be removed early next week, as soon as a break in the weather allows the barge to leave the UK.’
    • ‘We have new exit procedures for leaving the Elmsleigh car park, but it does not help vehicles to leave.’
    • ‘She says they saw three buses leave Orsainville but the exit was blocked so they couldn't follow the buses.’
    • ‘An engineering locomotive came off the tracks as it was leaving Chiswick Park Station just after midnight on Saturday morning.’
    • ‘Then I remembered the bus is leaving early now at 3: 30.’
    • ‘Danny smiled at her for a minute then left to go get himself a drink and a snack.’
    • ‘The driver and passengers then left immediately for a vacation with injuries.’
    • ‘Our train leaves early in the morning, and this is the only time we could do it.’
    • ‘After the bus leaves at dawn, the analyst and his wife suddenly begin to smile and even laugh.’
    • ‘A young college teacher leaves China for the United States in search of a better future.’
    • ‘Over the next five years we will implement a new electronic borders system that will track visitors entering or leaving the UK.’
    • ‘As they came to the end of their set they left the Academy to masses of cheers.’
    • ‘The buses leave just about every hour on the hour.’
    • ‘People who leave early also miss record-breaking, once-in-a-lifetime achievements by their own children.’
    • ‘But there's a train leaving right now, and I've become quickly addicted to not hanging around.’
    • ‘It has only one thing going for it and a lot of people travel a long way to visit it - only to leave a little disappointed.’
    • ‘Our train was leaving at midnight which meant we had some time for sightseeing.’
    • ‘The appellant was adamant that he had fled and left Burma on the same date, namely 5 August.’
    • ‘The three-year-old's remains had just recently been allowed to leave Thailand.’
    set off, head, make, begin one's journey, set sail
    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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Depart from permanently.
      ‘at the age of sixteen he left home’
    2. 1.2Cease attending (a school or college) or working for (an organization)
      ‘she is leaving the BBC after 20 years’
      • ‘I've continued to study and avail of relevant training courses since leaving college.’
      • ‘After leaving college, Pegg headed to Bristol University with notions of treading the boards.’
      • ‘Yup, they are singing my praises now that I am leaving high school and going to college.’
      • ‘After leaving the Conservatoire he helped support his parents by teaching the piano and accompanying dances and dancing classes.’
      • ‘He insisted, in 1869, on leaving the Catholic school which he was attending and studying instead at a lycée.’
      • ‘Suddenly I realized that my life hadn't changed much in the last decade since leaving college.’
      • ‘After leaving the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1987 he became an executive at GPA.’
      • ‘He left the University as a probationer, but he was not ordained at this stage.’
      • ‘Up to 12 members of staff have left the college because they are unhappy with the new setup.’
      • ‘She said many students were leaving primary schools without learning how to read and do basic mathematics.’
      • ‘He was taught by Eckersberg from whom he continued to learn after leaving the Academy in 1832.’
      • ‘All parents of students leaving primary school in June are invited to attend along with their children.’
      • ‘Robin leaves the School in the autumn after sixteen years to retire in South West France, with his wife, Verna.’
      • ‘He leaves high school shy of graduation to work in his grandfather's bank.’
      • ‘After leaving primary school he went to Norwood College, a public school at Sedbergh not far from Kendal.’
      • ‘Since leaving drama school he's only been out of work for a total of five months.’
      • ‘It was possibly the first time I had done anything like that since leaving high school.’
      • ‘Upon denial of her promotion, she leaves the University in a swarm of anger.’
      • ‘The event was for the Year 11 students, as many of them are leaving the school this year.’
      • ‘In the end I decided I had no choice but to leave the training school and offer my services as a spy to another group.’
      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
      View synonyms
  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 2.1Remain 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’
      • ‘The four cards that are left over at the end of the deal are set aside until the end of the hand.’
      • ‘Very little money will be left over for farmers who intend to apply for the schemes this year.’
      • ‘It works by securing the cord on the curtain tape that is left over after the curtains are gathered.’
      • ‘Whatever was left over as free time from my painting I used for my studies.’
      • ‘Planning means things are not left to chance and you will be more likely to be what you want to do rather than what is left over.’
      • ‘The mess is left behind when they go, and the local council has to deal with it.’
      • ‘She was allowed to carry home some of the meat that was left over, and they lived on that.’
      • ‘Any sum that happens to be left over when a child reaches maturity is not liable to tax.’
      • ‘I actually found a disused military shelter left over from WWII near my house the other day.’
      • ‘The collection was so successful that they decided to buy a tree to plant in the grounds with the money that was left over.’
      • ‘This compromise gives more certainty that more money will be left over for residents in the two areas.’
      • ‘It actually contains a fucshia that is left over from the summer planting.’
      • ‘There is easily enough room for four, and a good deal more left over for their luggage.’
      • ‘The coach will hope just enough of Rudolph's magical dust is left behind to sprinkle on his team.’
      • ‘Every time your machine crashes, a vast heap of temporary files full of information are left behind.’
      • ‘As he had finished the last bit he left her a note on some of the parchment that was left over.’
      • ‘A lot of the paint comes in full tins, left over from industrial contracts.’
      • ‘When the tests are complete, what happens to any tissue that is left over?’
      • ‘The stock which is left over is placed face down on the table and no one may see it.’
      • ‘When we finished, the father summoned his two sons out of their room to eat up what was left over on the table.’
    2. 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’
      • ‘When Scotland flew to the Far East, at the end of last season, perspective was left behind.’
      • ‘My brother was left behind in England for three years at boarding school because of the point he was at in his education.’
      • ‘The independent sector was not left behind in the celebration of new heights being reached yesterday.’
      • ‘He was apparently left behind when his owners went back to China, in the care of a friend.’
      • ‘On one trip in Africa, a tardy photographer was left behind and had to catch us up in the next country.’
      • ‘Her painted purple lips moved noiselessly in the dark as the city was left behind.’
      • ‘The realities of everyday life were left behind as soon as one entered the meeting.’
      • ‘When an orange is juiced, fibre and other health-giving elements are left behind.’
      • ‘As long as there are children left behind and losing out, we have work to do.’
      • ‘The lice hatch in about ten days, but the egg case is left behind to grow out with the hair.’
      • ‘I was very junior, but he made the effort to remember my name and made sure I wasn't left behind.’
      • ‘Since she was young, it may be that both ovaries were left behind at the time of hysterectomy.’
      • ‘It is finally left behind when the family takes a motorboat across a vast lagoon.’
      • ‘Because the skeleton is left behind we all go to our heavens without one.’
      • ‘Evidently that cheery bedside manner was left behind on a straw bale all those years ago.’
      • ‘My aim is nothing less than to make sure that no patient is left behind.’
      • ‘No one bothered to tell her friend where to go to for the next train, so she was left behind.’
      • ‘One of these was his absolute insistence that no one under any circumstance be left behind.’
      • ‘You must go online or risk being left behind in the Internet Age, they are warned.’
      • ‘The decision to leave was very hard: pupils, friends, and youth were left behind.’
      leave behind, omit to take, forget, lose, mislay
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3Abandon (a spouse or partner)
      ‘her boyfriend left her for another woman’
      • ‘Worse, eight out of ten find a PC failure more stressful than being left by their partner.’
      • ‘Relationships come to an end through bereavement or because one or both partners want to leave.’
      • ‘How often do older men leave their high school sweethearts and marry a younger woman?’
      • ‘There's a place where the wife is dealing with her husband leaving her.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Fathers prefer boys to such an extent that if they only had girls, they were more likely to leave their wife or partner.’
      • ‘It can also happen if one partner leaves due to the relationship having become unworkable.’
      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
      View synonyms
    4. 2.4Have as (a surviving relative) after one's death.
      ‘he leaves a wife and three children’
      • ‘If at the time of her death, a widow leaves no eligible minor child, the payment of her share of the pension will cease.’
      • ‘Katie leaves behind her loving partner and their two young children.’
      • ‘He leaves wife Helen and children Henry 20-months and one week old Emily whom he never got to see.’
      • ‘Bill was a partner in an asphalt contracting business and he leaves a wife Olga, sister Sheila and daughter Amanda.’
      • ‘As well as her parents and sister, she leaves a niece Kim and nephew Josh.’
      • ‘He died last month, leaving behind his partner Grace and two daughters Della and Elaine.’
      • ‘He leaves wife Norma, children Lee, Jesse and Caitlin, and grandkids Mathew, Jordon, Jamie and Emma.’
    5. 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’
      bequeath, will, endow, hand down, transfer, convey, make over
      View synonyms
  • 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’
    • ‘They are left with no option but to try to send fewer people to jail.’
    • ‘She shut the front door without so much as a goodbye and I was left with a suitcase and a broken heart.’
    • ‘I am not sure if the position we are left with here truly counts as being a religious one or not.’
    • ‘Those fortunate enough to have encounters with these animals are left with a feeling of awe.’
    • ‘He shouted at her attacker telling him to leave her alone and the man, who had remained silent throughout the incident, ran off.’
    • ‘Once in place the dock will be emptied, leaving Courageous sitting on support blocks.’
    • ‘If everything is an obstacle to be knocked down it is not clear what we are left with in the end.’
    • ‘All we are left with, then, is a belief in participation for its own sake, devoid of any content or realised goal.’
    • ‘I was left with a curiosity about the book, but not entirely satisfied by the play.’
    • ‘As a result, we were left with only 11 players, including the manager of the team.’
    • ‘Cinemas and pubs would be left empty while sports events would be cancelled.’
    • ‘She was left with terrible injuries.’
    • ‘Without the word, we are left with far less satisfactory means of protest.’
    • ‘The result is that most workers found they were left with hardly anything to live on and were unable to pay back the debt.’
    • ‘Campaigners were left with the prospect of returning the funding unless the council changed its mind.’
    • ‘Posts are being left empty for six months at a time because of the manpower shortage.’
    • ‘With journalists gone, the chief composer of the paper was left with the task of reviving it.’
    • ‘As a result of the attack the pensioner was left with a bruised head and cuts to her hands and was badly shaken up.’
    • ‘He added that the couple wished to be left alone to allow the relationship to develop.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 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’
      • ‘He left us to deal with the news of the secret with very little time to forgive him and to understand why he did what he did.’
      • ‘I'm not leaving you to deal with this whole afterlife thing by yourself.’
      • ‘Her friend had left her to look at the pictures and Maria sat by herself at the edge of the gallery.’
      • ‘He disappeared, leaving me to deal with a sore eye that would soon turn into a black eye.’
      • ‘His friends had long since vanished, leaving him to sort out the problem he was in by himself.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Every month or so he would dump an angry dame on me, leaving me to deal with the mess.’
      • ‘Don't leave me to deal with him and the men and the press, and all of that all over again.’
      • ‘How dare he leave me to deal with everything, including his death, while I have to stay stuck in this body?’
      • ‘I only glared coldly at her and sidestepped, leaving her to deal with her zombie-like fans.’
      • ‘Teen years leave you to deal with a whole new choice of decisions to be made.’
      • ‘Steve was quickly engulfed by his friends, leaving me to search for my own.’
      • ‘Then they said if he was a friend they would leave him to look after me.’
      • ‘You could have asked her yourself if you had not just left me to deal with her on my own.’
      • ‘Becca ran off without even looking at me, leaving me to deal with it on my own.’
      • ‘Why did he have to go leave me on my own, leave me to deal with everything on my own?’
      • ‘He'd run off to the hospital, leaving me to come home from school to deal with the shock.’
      entrust, hand over, pass on, refer
      View synonyms
    2. 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’
      • ‘It's the guitar work that leaves the biggest impression, and fans of genuinely great rock albums ought to find plenty to admire here.’
      • ‘It chews its feet throughout the interview, leaving a damp doggy stain on the carpet.’
      • ‘In particular, she leaves a fainter impression than a bluejay on freshly fallen snow.’
      • ‘Learning through hands-on experiences leaves a more indelible impression.’
      • ‘The village creates a favourable impression and leaves a strong visual image in the minds of the travelling public.’
      • ‘The Board also plans to produce a film on the industry with the aim of leaving a more lasting impression of the industry.’
      • ‘Coming so close to the end, they also tend to leave the biggest impression.’
      • ‘Doing things leaves a more lasting impression when you write about them in a journal later.’
      • ‘We concentrate on phosphorus as the nutrient that is biolimiting on geological time scales and potentially leaves a complete geological record.’
      • ‘It will certainly leave a more favourable impression with visiting tourists.’
      • ‘The dishes were refreshing, but failed to leave much of an impression on me.’
      • ‘Why, then, did it leave a big red stain on the white cushions in the escape capsule?’
      • ‘You might get a greater understanding of Strindberg by visiting the exhibition than the play, even though the play leaves such a strong impression.’
      • ‘The fourth walking appendage usually leaves the most lasting trace.’
      • ‘It leaves an ugly black stain which can rot fabric, leather and paper.’
      • ‘In the end it is not the insight into star architects that leaves the deepest impression, but the level of thoughtful reflection.’
      • ‘However, it would leave such a nasty stain and I was so lucky this year to have such a clean locker.’
      • ‘For me, it is a sanctuary of deep quiet where man's passing has left not the faintest trace.’
      • ‘A slight pitting due to the background can be seen with a magnifying glass, where as a punch leaves a cleaner impression.’
      • ‘Nothing seemed to happen, then the entire panel went blank, leaving a white, empty background.’
      cause, produce, generate, give rise to, result in
      View synonyms
    3. 3.3[with object]Deposit or entrust to be kept, collected, or attended to.
      ‘she left a note for 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.’
      • ‘Right, I leave myself notes in the text bit of my phone if I've not got a notepad with me.’
      • ‘He was further outraged when he found the bag, left by refuse collectors, had no air holes in it.’
      • ‘Rising, he angrily tears the note she left into tiny pieces and hurls them across the sand.’
      • ‘There was no way she could have reacted to the note he left in the box of the present like that.’
      • ‘Just make sure you leave a will and something which allows the authorities to identify your body.’
      • ‘He added that people should be charged by the weight of what they left out for collection.’
    4. 3.4[with object]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’
      • ‘In other words, the quantity is dictated and it is left to the market to determine the price.’
      • ‘With careful, thoughtful technique he leaves it to his reader to find the purpose of the essay.’
      • ‘But there is nothing inconsistent about leaving it to the states and not overturning the decision.’
      • ‘If he moves the jack or the boule, he loses the advantage of measuring and leaves it to the opponent to measure.’
      • ‘The article leaves it to the imagination how exactly the leftover bees in the cavity are to be killed.’
      • ‘It is is irrelevant to his day job as party leader and I think he could have left it to someone else.’
      • ‘Instead, it was left to his schools minister to tour the tables, introducing himself.’
      • ‘He does what he can to nurture it, but otherwise leaves it to nature to do what it does.’
      • ‘In the end, it is left to the students to stop their abuse of the B-wing stairwell, when it is reopened.’
      • ‘So it was left to the initiative of the Bar Harborites to respond to the needs of its visitors.’
      • ‘Only a few hundred of us are able to be here this week, so it is left to us to be the yeast in the loaf.’


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


  • be left at the post

    • Be beaten from the start of a race or competition.

      • ‘Was his engagement the wisest move possible at a time of major-conductor scarcity or a panicky action taken out of fear of being left at the post in the maestro sweepstakes?’
      • ‘In the Derby, she was left at the post, and her rider galloped her hard to get into good position.’
      • ‘About 10 were left at the post and 10 started the wrong way.’
      • ‘There were a dozen or more horses in that race, and when the barrier went up Mayflower was left at the post.’
      • ‘Unless U.S. statesmen can wangle the rights to their use, the U.S. will be left at the post.’
      • ‘If he was a secret supporter of the Blues and the Blue chariot was left at the post, he'd keep the rope up.’
      • ‘This is one candidate that should be left at the post.’
      • ‘That is breathtaking speed unheard of years ago, with the possible exception of Shannon's second to Blue Legend, after being left at the post, in the 1946 Epsom.’
      • ‘The relegation issue delayed meaningful negotiations and we have been left at the post in the signings race.’
      • ‘She was set to race against Joe Blair, who would get a weight break of 10 pounds, but the filly was 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’
      • ‘Our loss was one killed and three wounded - two of the latter were left for dead on the ground.’
      • ‘He was left for dead in the middle of the deadliest storm in the history of modern sailing.’
      • ‘What might be a crucial story at any other time of the year may be left for dead during sweeps.’
      • ‘A month ago, they were left for dead, but now they're thriving at the North Shore Animal League.’
      • ‘What was once a world icon is now stipulated to be left for dead in the wake of the devastating plague.’
      • ‘He had been left for dead by the security service but was still alive despite having his skull fractured.’
      • ‘Another nineteen had died, and a twentieth was left for dead on the day the ship sailed.’
      • ‘He's a bigger person than most people would be who were left for dead by their friends, their teammates.’
      • ‘In three years it'll be left for dead at the dump, leaking its own noxious brew into the soil.’
      • ‘He collapsed after reaching the top of Everest and was left for dead above 8000 metres by Sherpas.’
  • be left to oneself

    • 1Be alone or solitary.

      ‘left to himself he removed his shirt and tie’
      • ‘We knew we were lucky when Aaron was so happy to be left to himself, not only as a baby, but also as a toddler.’
      • ‘For this young person to be left to herself in a country so far away could only expose her to danger.’
      • ‘But if any would polish it, it is made dim, and truly if it be left to itself its clearness is withholden.’
      • ‘Eventually my wife would join them and I'd be left to myself for as far as the tank of gas would take me.’
      • ‘The blessedness of this doctrine is that he shall not be left to himself nor suffered to perish.’
      • ‘In my mind, this person is worthless, does not deserve a single penny, and should be left to himself to die.’
      • ‘If a quarrelsome person is left to himself he will soon have nobody with which to quarrel.’
      • ‘All the conditions of line 6 are unfavourable, and its subject is left to himself without any helpers.’
      • ‘If that balance is somehow compromised, and the bike is left to itself, it will fall every time!’
      • ‘In the eastern forest region, if the grass be left to itself, small trees soon spring up in its midst.’
      1. 1.1Be allowed to do what one wants.
        ‘women, left to themselves, would make the world a beautiful place to live in’
        • ‘Many of us in high school or college read William Goldman's novel, Lord of the Flies, which depicts the triumph of evil when man is left to himself.’
        • ‘There is another haste that does often and will mislead the mind, if it be left to itself and its own conduct.’
        • ‘While I prefer to be left to myself, this was one time I wouldn't have minded a little interference.’
        • ‘This creates a stronger, healthy fox population, which is far more of a pest than if nature had been left to itself.’
        • ‘Otherwise we were left to ourselves in the simple guest house which is used for retreats.’
        • ‘First, it implies that a capitalist market economy cannot be left to itself, but is a social system in need of design and support.’
        • ‘It probably won't happen, however, if Bush's Washington is left to itself.’
        • ‘Further, whatsoever is left to itself cannot be subject to the providence of a governor.’
        • ‘These people have their own ways and would rather be left to themselves.’
        • ‘Sexuality, if it is left to itself, as in the case of other species, is a simple biological need.’
  • leave someone/thing alone

    • 1Abandon or desert someone or something.

      ‘she was frightened because he had left her alone’
      • ‘She wished that she hadn't left them alone in the house.’
      • ‘After all this activity, she is left alone for a solo that looked rather pointless, as if it had been tagged on for her benefit.’
      • ‘But suddenly, their laughter was stopped by a sudden thunder, and they ran, leaving the boy alone.’
      • ‘Avoid falls - never leave your baby alone on any elevated surface such as a changing table or sofa.’
      • ‘The construction of the hotel was mysteriously abandoned, and the grand building was left alone.’
      • ‘A tram sped away from a stop leaving a five-year-old girl alone on the platform before her mum had time to get off.’
      • ‘After the truck was declared safe to leave alone, a tow truck arrived to pull the wreckage away.’
      • ‘There is a small part of me that is telling me not to leave them alone, but the majority of my head wishes to go to bed.’
      • ‘Audrey and Sid always do this - they invite the both of us along, but then go off and leave us alone…together.’
      • ‘They both darted down the hallway, and with that, Stevey and I were left alone together.’
      fail to look after, fail to care for, fail to provide for, leave alone, abandon
      View synonyms
    • 2Stop disturbing, interfering with, or trying to improve someone or something.

      ‘if you see him on his way to school, just leave him alone’
      ‘she wished he would let her alone’
      ‘take my advice and leave well alone’
      • ‘Did you think that some ancient wizard just creates the portal in some abandoned area and just leaves it alone forever?’
      • ‘The only way to truly cherish an ancient monument or other historic feature is to leave it alone, avoid it, plan around it.’
      • ‘Zach included me for a while, but Liz started to give me the impression I was interfering, so I left them alone.’
      • ‘We ask the council to stop this proposal and leave the bus stop alone.’
      • ‘I knew that the only way for Leslie to leave me alone about the whole thing would be to make her feel guilty.’
      • ‘Yep, leave them alone… if they are bothered they are liable to abandon the nest.’
      • ‘She wished she could go back and tell herself to leave that whole treasure chest alone.’
      • ‘Kathy smiled and left Leah alone because she saw she had touched a chord with this conversation.’
      • ‘So when an adult would ask me, I'd tell them one or the other and they'd smile and leave me alone.’
      • ‘We've had to stop him from coming in now because he just won't leave our customers alone.’
  • leave someone be

    • informal Refrain from disturbing or interfering with someone.

      ‘why can't you all just leave me be?’
      • ‘Those who want our business approach us with friendly calls, and leave us be when we decline their offers.’
      • ‘Impressed as ever by her verve, we left her be, the sound of thousands of tiny sobs fading as we went.’
      • ‘The facilities were good and clean, the staff were helpful and left us be when we wanted to be left.’
      • ‘We just left him be for the night and gave him a place to sleep until we could get him the medical attention he needed.’
      • ‘My insomnia, although ever present, takes a backseat to my life's list of troubles, and leaves me be that I may live my life in relative restfulness.’
      • ‘Tell us when to show up, tell us what to do, tell us when we are supposed to go home, and leave us be.’
      • ‘In fact, she seems to prefer it that way, so I've left her be, but I know that at least I've made an effort.’
      • ‘She does not manipulate the needles, just taps them in and leaves me be for 20 minutes or so.’
      • ‘Creatures and races that long left us be have awoken and thrown their might at us.’
      • ‘He would have gotten more respect out of me if he just left me be when I asked him to.’
  • leave someone cold

    • Fail to interest someone.

      ‘the Romantic poets left him cold’
      • ‘I don't understand a lot of things others take for granted, and I am left cold by fads such as postmodernism, etc.’
      • ‘Talk about having problems with billing - our experience with them has left us cold about their services.’
      • ‘Endless flights to test the effects of weightlessness on fruit flies left us cold and indifferent with few exceptions.’
      • ‘My parents tried introducing me to Indian art, dance, cooking, and dress, but these things left me cold.’
      • ‘He tends to leave me cold and I can't say I've enjoyed any of his films for over a decade.’
      • ‘The proposals, for that reason, leave us cold.’
      • ‘Still some have left us cold and unfulfilled as one party of the match didn't quite live up to their end of the deal.’
      • ‘Some of the episodes leave me cold and others really tickle my fancy.’
      • ‘If the last one left you cold, then only consider it if competitive multiplayer is your thing.’
      • ‘At her home in Florida, she got a phone call from the firm that left her cold.’
  • leave go

    • informal Remove one's hold or grip.

      ‘leave go of me!’
      • ‘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.

      • ‘While he was speaking thus to himself a great wave struck the raft, and made him leave hold of the rudder, and tossed him far away into the sea.’
      • ‘Then the youth left hold of the cord for the first time in ten years, and a great joy descended upon him.’
      • ‘But as his later life shows, perhaps this early ability to leave hold of himself is one of the reasons why we, as readers, never quite manage to get a crystal clear picture of him as a man.’
      • ‘If an opportunity should occur, he assured her he would not leave hold of her hand.’
      • ‘Vasiliev, with whom I was walking hand in hand, suddenly left hold of my arm and sank upon the snow.’
      • ‘I only let you leave hold of my hand for a minute to go and buy some sweets and now the sky is falling.’
      • ‘Thereupon the dragon suddenly left hold of him, and went off into the lake.’
      • ‘If so he would hardly have been prepared to leave hold of a piece of art of such a high quality.’
      • ‘Elizabeth constantly sat bravely at Frank's side, never leaving hold of his hand, night and day for the last three weeks of his very severe illness.’
      • ‘When the push button is left hold of, the ball 47 is free to move with the air and is pressed tightly against its seat interrupting the flow.’
  • 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’
      • ‘Saying that the advanced user isn't their target audience and then leaving it at that does not seem to be the way business should be done.’
      • ‘The movie hints that there is more to him than first appears but frustratingly leaves it at that.’
      • ‘Confronting the colleague is better than doing nothing, but leaving it at that doesn't go far enough.’
      • ‘The explorers suggested that the towers had to do with the movement of the moon, and left it at that.’
      • ‘‘I know,’ she replies, and leaves it at that, knowing she has to keep it together.’
      • ‘For this reason, its much better to call it constant and leave it at that than call it not constant and leave it at that.’
      • ‘We left it at that as I arrived home and walked into my house still jittery from the adrenaline.’
      • ‘Most of the time, the script simply brings the issue up and leaves it at that with the rest of the work and questioning to come from a healthy family discussion afterwards.’
      • ‘You're obviously going to leave it at that as you fail to find any more solid arguments to my replies.’
      • ‘Pick the string, but instead of just leaving it at that, a split second later hit the string with your thumb.’
  • leave much (or a lot) to be desired

    • Be highly unsatisfactory.

      ‘their education leaves much to be desired’
      • ‘In its infancy, pin and ball were made of hardwood, leaving much to be desired with regard to uniformity.’
      • ‘Although the liquid diet leaves a lot to be desired, it hasn't been terribly difficult for me to adhere to.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, the play is as elementary as its title, leaving much to be desired in plot and characterization.’
      • ‘The last release left much to be desired, to be diplomatic, and we do not want those mistakes to be repeated.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It started awhile back when I noticed some of your signs leaving a lot to be desired in the grammar department.’
      • ‘But their business practices leave much to be desired, and their fly-by-night bakery quickly ends up in the red.’
      • ‘In 1842, he performed an experiment that left much to be desired in the control of experimental variables.’
      • ‘Granted the puppetry leaves a lot to be desired, but it was made a long time ago so it can be forgiven for that.’

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’
      • ‘He must start every day where he had to leave off the previous evening.’
      • ‘And here I drank wine upon necessity, being ill for want of it, and I find reason to fear that by my too sudden leaving off wine, I do contract many evils upon myself.’
      • ‘In the second half the game continued in the same vein, where it left off at the break.’
      • ‘He continued where he left off after the break and nearly gave his side the lead after 52 minutes.’
      • ‘He jokes with him on the phone, finishes the call and continues at the point that he left off.’
      • ‘Picking up his book where he had left off he tried to focus on the words but the images they painted in his mind didn't match anything that had come before.’
      • ‘That's where the DVD version scores because when you sit down to pick it up again it goes back to the beginning of the scene where you left off.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Some foolish part of me thought I could walk straight back into the studio and pick right up where I left off, but this is really not the case.’
      • ‘Many angrily told him to leave off shouting; but he only cried out all the louder.’
      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
      give over, knock off, jack something in
      View synonyms
  • leave someone/thing out

    • 1Fail to include.

      ‘it seemed unkind to leave Daisy out, so she was invited too’
      ‘Olivia was feeling rather left out’
      • ‘There is no reason to leave us out of your tour dates, unless you simply don't want to come.’
      • ‘First of all, don't assume that the guys deliberately left you out or tried to make you look bad.’
      • ‘Her neutrality in the First World War left her out of the negotiations concerning the restructuring of Europe.’
      • ‘I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake.’
      • ‘In all honesty, they probably leave it out for the power reason and to save a few cents on build complexity.’
      • ‘If the flowers are to be smelled along the way, that is a feminine prerogative, and leave us out of it.’
      • ‘When I reviewed the first draft of the book, I found that the authors had completely left us out of the story.’
      • ‘She tried to join them once, but I think they intentionally left her out, so she came back to sit by me again.’
      • ‘Couldn't we have left him out until the next episode and had Dale say - oh I'm engaged.’
      • ‘Also, the wonderkid thing is exaggerated - Argentina left him out of their squad for the recent World Youth Cup.’
      exclude, omit, except, eliminate, drop, count out, disregard, ignore, reject, pass over, neglect, cut out, do away with, bar, debar, keep out
      miss out, omit, omit by accident, fail to include, overlook, pass over, neglect to notice, leave unnoticed, forget
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1British informal Stop it.
        ‘‘Leave it out,’ I said sternly, pushing him off’


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




Main definitions of leave in English

: leave1leave2



  • 1Time when one has permission to be absent from work or from duty in the armed forces.

    ‘Joe was home on leave’
    ‘maternity leave’
    • ‘Staff do not accrue university service credit during discretionary leaves of absence such as education leaves, political leave of absence, and other leaves of absence.’
    • ‘Every officer and employee shall be entitled to such leaves of absence on days when elections are held within the city as are authorized by Section 14350 of the Elections Code.’
    • ‘International students on medical leaves of absence may remain in the United States legally while getting treatment.’
    • ‘Further, some may argue that annual leave provides a sufficient number of days for fathers to take leave to care for their children.’
    • ‘All leaves of absence should be applied for at least 30 days in advance if possible.’
    • ‘While on leave of absence without pay, the employee is not eligible to utilize tuition benefits.’
    • ‘A lot of soldiers from Fort Gordon took leave to man the scoreboards.’
    • ‘The term ‘leave of absence’ applies, in most cases, to leaves of absence without pay.’
    • ‘You are not allowed to enroll full-time in another university while on a leave of absence from Duke.’
    • ‘If you are on a leave of absence with pay, your and the University's normal contributions will continue.’
    • ‘Cycling to college, Singh taught agriculture economics and macro economics but he soon took leave to go to Cambridge on scholarship.’
    • ‘Many have been told by their doctors to take leave to protect their health and would step down from the job if they could keep their allowances and pension entitlements.’
    • ‘Full-time officers of research may take leaves of absence according to the policies described below.’
    • ‘Apparently she's still feeling unwell after it and is taking leave to convalesce.’
    • ‘Requests for consecutive years of leave of absence shall be for the reasons provided in this policy.’
    • ‘What is the reason for the leave of absence deadline on the Academic and Administrative Calendar?’
    • ‘Supervisor's Note: Detailed information regarding all leaves of absence is available in the Employee Benefits Handbook.’
    • ‘We support his decision to take leave to do that and we anticipate him returning as leader in early February in time for the next sitting period.’
    • ‘You may continue group coverage for up to 36 months of leave of absence by prepaying the monthly premiums.’
    • ‘This has serious repercussions for a largely immigrant workforce who may have to take leave to visit family abroad.’
    holiday, break, time off, furlough, sabbatical, leave of absence, a day off, a month off, a week off, leisure time, respite, breathing space
    View synonyms
  • 2[often with infinitive] Permission.

    ‘leave from the court to commence an action’
    • ‘Instead, able-bodied men in their thousands had leave to seek a livelihood abroad.’
    • ‘I seek leave to table two media reports identifying people who confirm the nature of that police advice.’
    • ‘I also seek leave to table the transcript in which the Prime Minister said there were no positive tests.’
    • ‘The applicant seeks leave to appeal from a decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court.’
    • ‘I seek leave to present the report of the High Court on the Tauranga electoral petition.’
    • ‘You will have a right to appeal against my decision by leave of the Court to a Full Court.’
    • ‘Though she was refused leave to appeal, she is likely to seek leave to do so from the Appeal Court itself.’
    • ‘I seek leave to take a call on behalf of the leader of the National Party.’
    • ‘That being the case, I seek leave to ask the Minister whether he will provide us with that legal opinion.’
    • ‘She now appeals against conviction by leave of the single judge.’
    • ‘I heard Mr Burton seek leave to table the minutes of that particular meeting.’
    • ‘So it is with a heavy heart that we seek your leave to return to the subject.’
    • ‘Under the Children Act 1989, any person may apply to the court for leave to seek an order relating to the child.’
    • ‘I wondered why the member had to seek leave to do that in this particular instance, when the vote has not yet been put.’
    • ‘I seek leave to table the list of 101 projects funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund.’
    • ‘The appellant now appeals against sentence by leave of the single judge.’
    • ‘It is a very narrow debate, unless members seek leave to widen the debate.’
    • ‘I also seek leave to file in Court and read an affidavit sworn today.’
    • ‘It is against that dismissal that the applicant seeks leave to appeal to this Court.’
    • ‘He sought leave to make an application to discharge the court order made last April.’
    permission, consent, authorization, sanction, warrant, dispensation, concession, indulgence, approval, clearance, blessing, agreement, backing, assent, acceptance, confirmation, ratification, mandate, licence, acquiescence, concurrence, liberty, freedom
    View synonyms


  • by (or with) your leave

    • 1With your permission.

      ‘with your leave, I will send him your address’
      • ‘Even by your leave Robin, it is not fitting for my order to strike a yeoman for fear an injury he may receive.’
      • ‘But with your leave, friend, I shall take a cut through the woods until we have left this Christian woman behind.’
      • ‘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?’
    • 2An apology for rude or unwelcome behaviour.

      ‘she came in 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.’
      • ‘I was put on hold without so much as 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?’
      • ‘The Virginia Department of Taxation has gone from examination of no records to collection of a naked assessment without so much as a by your leave.’
  • take one's leave

    • formal Say goodbye.

      ‘he went to take his leave of his hostess’
      • ‘Then she took her leave of Master Robert, and prayed him for his blessing, and so forth of other friends.’
      • ‘The libation complete, we took our leave, promising to return with copies of the photos we took.’
      • ‘Finally, he took his leave under a general amnesty, and finally made his way back to Texas in August 1835.’
      • ‘With this brief notice of St. Cross we take our leave of the old capital of England and its neighbourhood.’
      • ‘With directions from Morris on how to get to Big Hill Lake we took our leave with much regret.’
      • ‘With that, she took her leave of him and went into the house, and spent the night with the rest of the family.’
      • ‘Our guests smile - The Artist's smile is rather perfunctory - and we take our leave of each other.’
      • ‘She took her leave of them, but when she finally arrived home, she was shocked at the state of her dough.’
      • ‘It is time to leave for home, and we take our leave of these gracious and courteous researchers.’
      • ‘Saturday morning we sadly took our leave of our friends in Clonmel with the promise of meeting again soon.’
      departure, leaving, leave-taking, parting, withdrawal, exit, farewell, goodbye, adieu, valediction
      View synonyms
  • take leave of one's senses

    • (in hyperbolic use) go mad.

      ‘she began to beat her chest as though she had taken leave of her senses’
      • ‘So, from now until Christmas Day, this column will address the delicate subject of how to cook and entertain your way through the festive season without taking leave of your senses.’
      • ‘Or was it the telecom bosses and their financiers who took leave of their senses?’
      • ‘She truly does take leave of her senses where her Earl is concerned.’
      • ‘He is old and senile, and sometimes takes leave of his senses.’
      • ‘But five months ago, the Washington Post editors completely took leave of their senses.’
      become insane, lose one's reason, lose one's mind, take leave of one's senses, go off one's head, go crazy
      View synonyms
  • take leave to do something

    • formal Venture or presume to do something.

      ‘whether this amounts to much, one may take leave to doubt’
      • ‘Otherwise, they might find hungry folks taking leave to make a fuel stop at the petrol station next door.’
      • ‘In my calmer moments, however, I take leave to doubt whether that is so.’
      • ‘I would take leave to think that we - we need to be a little more precise about it.’
      • ‘So the wind had a definite ball getting her hair to look decisively disheveled, before finally taking leave to go wherever it wanted to next.’
      • ‘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.’


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