mid-14c., "leave or permission to depart," from Old French conget, congié "permission, leave of absence, dismissal, ceremonial leave-taking" (Modern French congé), from Medieval Latin commeatus "leave, permission to depart," in classical Latin "passage, going to and fro," hence "leave of absence," from commeare, from com "with, together" (see com-) + meare "to go, pass" (from PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move"). Probably lost 17c. and revived 19c. from Modern French as congé. Also as a verb.