late 14c., from the verbal phrase to take leave, originally "obtain or receive formal permission" in any sense (c. 1300); see take (v.) + leave (n.). Sense evolution was through "receive formal permission to depart;" by 16c. it had begun to mean "depart with an expression of farewell," and in some cases came to mean the farewell itself. Give (someone) leave (v.) "allow, permit" is from 12c.
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