Language: Old English
Origin: læfan


1 verb
leave1 S1 W1 past tense and past participle left

go away

[intransitive and transitive] to go away from a place or a person:
My baby gets upset when I leave the room.
Before leaving the train, make sure you have all your belongings with you.
Leave the motorway at Junction 7.
leave at
The plane leaves at 12.30.
leave for
I tried calling him, but he'd already left for work.
leave (something/somebody) soon/now/later etc
If he left immediately, he'd catch the 7.30 train.
leave (something/somebody) to do something
Frances left work early to meet her mother.
leave somebody doing something
Never leave children playing near water unattended.
leave somebody to something
I'll leave you to it (=go away and let you continue with what you are doing).
My youngest boy has not left my side (=has stayed near me) since his daddy was killed.
leave somebody in peace (=go away from someone so that they can think, work etc alone)
Just a few more questions, then we'll leave you in peace.


[intransitive and transitive] if you leave your job, home, school etc, you permanently stop doing that job, living at home etc:
Over the past two years, 20 staffers have left.
leave home/school/college etc
How old were you when you left home (=your parents' home)?
My daughter got a job after she left school.
The lawsuit will be postponed until the president leaves office.
leave a job/country/Spain etc
Many missionaries were forced to leave the country.
It seems that Tony has left the band for good (=permanently).
leave (somebody/something) to do something
Laura left her native England to live in France.

leave somebody/something alone

a) to stop annoying or upsetting someone:
Oh, just leave me alone, will you?
Leave the boy alone, he can make up his own mind.
b) to go away from someone so that they are on their own:
Six-year-old Gemma had been left alone in the house.
c) to stop touching something:
Leave that alone. You'll break it.
d) also leave well (enough) alone to stop being involved in or trying to change a situation:
Why can't they just leave well alone and let us concentrate on teaching?

let something/somebody stay

[transitive always + adverb/preposition] to make or allow something or someone to stay in a place when you go away
leave something/somebody in/with/behind etc
Are you leaving the kids with Grandma on Saturday?
As soon as I'd shut the door, I realized I'd left the keys inside.
Did anybody leave a jacket behind last night?
She left her son in the care of a friend.
leave somebody to do something
He left Ruth to find her own way home.
Students were left to their own devices (=left alone and allowed to do whatever they wanted) for long periods.
leave somebody for dead
The girl had been attacked and left for dead.

not change/move something

[transitive] to let something remain in a particular state, position, or condition
leave something on/off/out etc
You've left your lights on.
She must have left the phone off the hook.
leave something open/empty/untidy etc
I wish you'd stop leaving the door open.
The trial left many questions unanswered.
leave a space/gap etc
Leave the next two lines blank for the tutor's comments.
Drivers should always leave room for cyclists.
leave something doing something
I'll just leave the engine running while I go in.
Don't leave tools lying about.
leave something to do something
Leave the pots to soak overnight.

result of accident/illness/event

[transitive] if an event, accident, illness etc leaves you in a particular condition, you are in that condition because of it:
An explosion at a chemical plant has left one worker dead and four injured.
leave somebody with something
Although the infection cleared up, he was left with a persistent cough.
leave somebody doing something
The incident left her feeling confused and hurt.
The announcement has left shareholders nursing huge losses.

be left

also have something left if something is left, it remains after everything else has gone, been taken away, or used:
I've only got a few dollars left.
There were a couple of seats left at the back.
We don't have much time left.
He pointed to what was left of the house (=used when very little is left).
All that was left was a pile of bones.
be left over
After we've paid the bills, there's never much left over.
They ate some bread rolls left over from the night before.


[transitive] to deliver a message, note, package etc for someone or put it somewhere so that they will get it later:
She left a message on his answerphone.
leave somebody something
Can you leave me some money for the bus?
leave something with somebody
Ian left this note with me.
leave something for somebody
A guy left these flowers for you.


[transitive] to not do something or to do it later than you intended:
Leave the dishes. I'll do them later.
So much had been left undone.
leave something until the last minute/until last
If you leave your preparation until the last minute, you'll reduce your chances of passing.
I left the best bit until last.
I want to think about it. Can I leave it for now?
I'm afraid you've left it too late to change your ticket.
leave it at that (=used to say that you will not do any more of something, because you have done enough)
Let's leave it at that for today.

let somebody decide/be responsible

[transitive] to let someone else decide something or be responsible for something
leave something to somebody
Leave it to me. I'll make sure it gets posted.
The choice of specialist subject is left entirely to the students.
leave it (up) to somebody to do something
I'll leave it up to you to decide.
She leaves it to the reader to draw their own conclusions.
leave doing something to somebody
Is it okay if I leave writing the results to you?
leave something with somebody
Leave it with me, I'll fix it for you.
He's not the sort to leave things to chance (=take no action and just wait to see what happens).
leave somebody with no choice/option (=force someone to take a particular action)
You leave me with no choice but to fire you.
leave somebody to do something British English
Clive moved to London, leaving Edward to run the Manchester office.

husband/wife etc

[intransitive and transitive] to stop living with or having a relationship with your husband, partner etc:
Martha was always threatening to leave, but I never believed her.
leave somebody for somebody
Mr Rushworth left his partner of 10 years for a younger woman.

when you die

a) to arrange for someone to receive your money, property, etc after you die [= bequeath]:
Aunt Alice died, leaving almost $5 million.
leave somebody something
Hugo left me his mother's ring.
In his will, he had left all his children a small sum of money.
leave something to somebody/something
Have you thought of leaving a gift to charity after you die?

leave a wife/children etc

used when someone dies before their wife, children etc:
PC Davis leaves a wife and three small children.


[transitive] to make a mark that remains afterwards
leave a mark/stain/scar etc
The wine had left a permanent mark on the tablecloth.
He staggered to the door, leaving a trail of blood.
Make sure that you don't leave any footprints.

not eat/drink

[transitive] if you leave food or drink that you have been given, you do not eat or drink it:
'I'm really hungry now.' 'That's because you left half your lunch.'
He rose from the table, leaving his brandy untouched.

leave somebody/something standing

also leave somebody/something in the dust American English informal to be much better, quicker, more successful etc than someone or something else:
In terms of fitness, he discovered that Kate left him standing.

leave a lot/something/much to be desired

to be very unsatisfactory:
Inspectors say health and safety procedures at the factory leave a lot to be desired.


[transitive] in a sum, to have a particular amount remaining:
Three from seven leaves four.

leave something aside/to one side

to not think about or consider one part of something for a time, so that you can consider another part of it:
Leaving aside for a moment the question of expense, what would your view be of the suggested changes?

leave somebody/something be

old-fashioned to not upset, speak to, or annoy someone or to not touch something

leave go/hold of something

British English spoken informal to stop holding something

leave it to somebody (to do something)

American English spoken informal used to say that no one should be surprised that someone does something, because it is typical or expected of them:
Leave it to you to have the whole day planned out!

Elvis/somebody/something has left the building

especially American English informal used humorously to emphasize that something is definitely over or that someone has gone and will not return

➔ somebody can take it or leave it

at take1 (21)

➔ be left holding the baby/bag

at hold1 (26)

leave somebody/something ↔ behind

phrasal verb
1 to not take someone or something with you when you leave a place:
I think I might have left my wallet behind.
He departed for Washington, leaving the children behind with their mother.
2 if a person, country, or organization is left behind, they do not develop as quickly or make as much progress as other people, countries etc:
In class, a child with poor eyesight can soon get left behind.
a fear of being left behind by better-organized rivals
3 also leave somebody/something behind you to permanently stop being involved with a place, person, or situation:
Although Armstrong overcame the circumstances of his birth, he never really left New Orleans behind.
4 also leave somebody/something behind you to move away from someone or something:
They had left the city behind and were heading into open country.
Sarah, with her long legs, soon left the rest of us far behind.
5 also leave something behind you to produce a thing or situation that remains after you have gone:
He drove off, leaving behind him a trail of blue smoke.
the mess the previous government left behind

leave off

phrasal verb
1 to stop doing something
take up/pick up/continue (something) etc where somebody left off (=continue something that has stopped for a short time)
Barry took up the story where Justine had left off.
leave off doing something British English informal:
'Will you leave off nagging?' he snarled.

leave somebody/something off (something)

to not include something such as someone's name in a list or other document:
Why was her name left off the list?

leave somebody/something ↔ out

phrasal verb
1 to not include someone or something:
She outlined the case to him, being careful not to leave anything out.
leave somebody/something out of something
Kidd has been left out of the team.

be/feel left out

to feel that you are not accepted or welcome in a situation:
New fathers often feel left out when baby arrives.

leave it out!

British English spoken used to tell someone to stop lying, pretending, or being annoying
put something in someone's hand: hand, pass

officially give something to someone: award, present, grant, confer, allocate

give something to people in a group: hand out, pass around, distribute

give to a charity: donate

give something to people after you die: leave, pass on, bequeath

See also

Dictionary results for "leave"
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