Meaning of “leave” in the English Dictionary

"leave" in English

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uk /liːv/ us /liːv/ left, left

leave verb (GO AWAY)

A1 [ I or T ] to go away from someone or something, for a short time or permanently:

I'll be leaving at five o'clock tomorrow.
He left the house by the back door.
She left the group of people she was with and came over to speak to us.
The bus leaves in five minutes.

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leave verb (NOT TAKE)

A2 [ T ] to not take something or someone with you when you go, either intentionally or by accident:

Hey, you've left your keys on the table.
Can I leave a message for Sue?
Why don't you leave the kids with me on Friday?

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leave verb (REMAIN)

A2 If something leaves something else, a part or effect of it stays after it has gone or been used:

His shoes left muddy marks on the floor.
[ + two objects ] If I give you €50 that won't leave me enough cash to pay the bill.
[ + obj + adj ] Far from improving things, the new law has left many people worse off (= they are now in a worse situation) than before.

B2 [ T ] If you leave something in a particular condition, you do not touch it, move it, or act to change it in any way, so that it stays in the same condition:

Leave that chair where it is.
He left most of his dinner (= did not eat much of it).
[ + obj + adj ] The family were left (= became and continued to be) homeless.
I'll have to go back - I think I've left the iron on.
You can leave the window open.
Leave your sister alone (= stop annoying her).

C1 [ T + obj + -ing verb ] If you leave something or someone doing something, he, she, or it is still doing it when you go away:

I left the children watching television.
He left the engine running.

leave verb (NOT USE ALL)

A2 [ T ] to not eat or use all of something:

They'd eaten all the cake, but they'd left some sandwiches.
Are there any cookies left?
There's some food left over from the party.
Make sure you leave enough hot water for the rest of us.

leave verb (STOP)

A1 [ T ] to stop doing something, or to leave a place because you have finished an activity:

Many children leave school at 16.
He left work in June for health reasons.
She left home (= stopped living with her parents) at 18.
Could we leave that subject (= stop discussing that subject) for the moment and go on to the next item on the agenda?

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leave verb (WAIT)

C2 [ T ] If you leave (doing) something, you wait before you do it:

I'll leave these letters till Monday (= write them on Monday).
Don't leave it too late (= don't wait too long to do it).
[ + -ing verb ] They left booking their holiday till/to the last minute.

leave verb (AFTER DEATH)

[ T ] To leave a wife, husband, or other close family member is to die while these family members are still alive:

He left a wife and two children.

C2 [ + two objects ] If you leave something that you own to someone, you say they should receive it when you die:

He left his nieces all his money./He left all his money to his nieces.


[ T ] to allow someone to make a choice or decision about something, or to make someone responsible for something:

I left the decision (up) to her.
[ + to infinitive ] I left it to her to make the decision.
Leave it (= the problem) with me, I'll see what I can do.
I'll leave it to chance (= wait and see what happens without planning).


uk /liːv/ us /liːv/

leave noun (HOLIDAY)

C2 [ U ] time allowed away from work for a holiday or illness:

How much annual/paid leave do you get?
She's (gone) on leave (= holiday).
I've asked if I can take a week's unpaid leave.
leave of absence

formal permission to be away from work or studies

More examples

  • I haven't got any leave left.
  • He's on leave this week.
  • I get 25 days annual leave.
  • I need to take some leave before the end of the year.
  • We were given an extra day's leave.

(Definition of “leave” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"leave" in American English

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us /liv/ past tense and past participle left /left/

leave verb (GO AWAY)

[ I/T ] to go away from someone or something that stays in the same place:

[ I ] I’ll be leaving tomorrow.
[ T ] He left the house by the back door.
[ I/T ] The bus leaves (the station) in five minutes.

[ I/T ] If you leave a job, you stop working at a place:

[ T ] He left work in June.

[ I/T ] If you leave home, you stop living in your parentshome.

leave verb (NOT TAKE)

[ T ] to not take something with you:

I mistakenly left my checkbook at home.
Hurry up or you’ll get left behind the other hikers.

[ T ] You can leave something somewhere for a purpose:

I’ve left dinner for you on the stove.

[ T ] If you leave something to someone, you have arranged for that person to receive it after you die:

She left all her money to her children.

leave verb (CAUSE TO STAY)

[ T ] to allow or cause something to stay in a particular place, position, or state:

The dog left muddy tracks on the carpet.
He left a message for me at the office.
Leave the window open.
Her rudeness left us all speechless.
He left the engine running.

[ T ] If you leave some activity that involves work, you wait before you do it:

I’ll leave the cleaning for tomorrow.

leave verb (MAKE AVAILABLE)

[ T ] to make something available after some part has been taken or used:

There are only four cookiesplease leave one for me.
Five from twelve leaves seven (= Seven is the result of taking five from twelve).
left (over)

If something is left (over), it was not previously used or eaten:

There’s some pasta left over from dinner.


[ T ] to allow someone to make a choice or decision about something, or to make someone responsible for something:

Leave it to me – I’ll see what I can do.
I’ll leave it up to you to choose the gift.

leavenoun [ U ]

us /liv/

leave noun [ U ] (VACATION)

time permitted away from work, esp. for a medical condition or illness or for some other special purpose:

maternity leave

leave noun [ U ] (PERMISSION)

fml permission to do something:

He took it without my leave.

(Definition of “leave” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"leave" in Business English

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leavenoun [ U ]

uk /liːv/ us

WORKPLACE, HR a period of time that someone is allowed away from work for holiday, illness, or another special reason:

take leave from sth I'm taking 5 days' unpaid leave from work to go to the wedding.
be/go on leave from sth Benefits will need to be adjusted when an employee is on leave from their job.
The appointee will be entitled to 38 days of annual leave.
Higher maternity pay and a longer leave entitlement are likely outcomes of the review.
adoption/bereavement/child-care leave
paid/unpaid leave

formal agreement or permission to do something:

be given/granted leave to do sth She has been granted leave to remain in the country.
No application should be issued without my leave.
be placed/put on leave

WORKPLACE, HR to be told to take time away from work, usually because you have been accused of doing something wrong:

The director of financial aid was recently placed on leave for accepting consulting fees from a loan company.
leave to appeal

LAW permission to formally ask for a legal or official decision to be changed:

The defendant was given 14 days' leave to appeal against the decision.


us uk /liːv/ past tense and past participle left /left/

[ I, T ] to go away from a place or a situation:

I'm leaving work early this afternoon.
What time does the bus leave?
They left for Paris last night.

[ I, T ] to go away from a place permanently:

She left her home country many years ago.

[ I, T ] to stop working for an organization or company, or stop attending a school, university, etc. :

She left to go to a rival company.
Ben Harris? He left about a month ago.
How old were you when you left school?

[ T ] to not use all of something:

Is there any money left in last year's budget?.

[ T ] to do something later that you could do immediately:

He always leaves writing is reports till the very last moment.
You should try to decide which tasks need to be done urgently and which ones can be left.

[ T ] to arrange for someone to receive something after you die:

His aunt left him a lot of money.
He left the house to this three children.
leave sb alone

to stop speaking to or annoying someone:

Leave me alone! I'm trying to work.

(Definition of “leave” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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We want to rule out the sale of human tissues for cash, but leave the door open for limited financial compensation for the donor.
I would appeal to all, while going down the road thus set out, to leave plenty of room for diplomatic manoeuvre and negotiation.
Above all – and this will be my final point – we must leave to one side a budgetary debate characterised by an increase in national self-interest.
Indeed, genuine political activists tend to be reluctant to leave their country of origin because they feel they have a lot to do there.
The occupying army must leave.
The occupying forces must leave.
Current regulations governing the use of such chemicals leave much to be desired, and immediate action should be taken to change this state of affairs.
We have not done that, and it would be very dangerous to do so because we would always leave somebody out.
Education and training are key areas in which these countries also have to make progress or else have no future, as their young people will otherwise leave.
Let us recall that the inspectors did not leave the country in 1998 of their own free will, but were expelled because the regime thought that the danger had passed.

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