leave (v.)

Old English læfan "to allow to remain in the same state or condition; to let remain, allow to survive; to have left (of a deceased person, in reference to heirs, etc.); to bequeath (a heritage)," from Proto-Germanic *laibjanan (source also of Old Frisian leva "to leave," Old Saxon farlebid "left over"), causative of *liban "remain" (source of Old English belifan, German bleiben, Gothic bileiban "to remain"), from PIE root *leip- "to stick, adhere."

The Germanic root seems to have had only the sense "remain, continue" (which was in Old English as well but has since become obsolete), which also is in Greek lipares "persevering, importunate." But this usually is regarded as a development from the primary PIE sense of "adhere, be sticky" (compare Lithuanian lipti, Old Church Slavonic lipet "to adhere," Greek lipos "grease," Sanskrit rip-/lip- "to smear, adhere to."

Originally a strong verb (past participle lifen), it early switched to a weak form. Meaning "go away, take one's departure, depart from; leave behind" (c. 1200) comes from notion of "leave behind" (as in to leave the earth "to die;" to leave the field "retreat"). From c. 1200 as "to stop, cease; give up, relinquish, abstain from having to do with; discontinue, come to an end;" also "to omit, neglect; to abandon, forsake, desert; divorce;" also "allow (someone) to go."

Colloquial use for "let, allow" is by 1840, said by OED to be chiefly American English. Not related to leave (n.). To leave out "omit" is from late 15c. To leave (something) alone is from c. 1400; to leave (something) be is from 1825. To leave (something/nothing) to be desired is from 1780. To leave it at that is from 1902. Leave off is from c. 1400 as "cease, desist" (transitive); early 15c. as "stop, make an end" (intransitive).

leave (n.)

"permission, liberty granted to do something," Old English leafe "leave, permission, licence," dative and accusative of leaf "permission," from Proto-Germanic *laubo (source also of Old Norse leyfi "permission," and, with prefix, Old Saxon orlof, Old Frisian orlof, German Urlaub "leave of absence"), from PIE root *leubh- "to care, desire, love," the original idea being "approval resulting from pleasure." It is a noun relative of lief "dear" (adj.); and compare belief. In the military sense, it is attested from 1771.

updated on December 07, 2018

Definitions of leave from WordNet
leave (v.)
go away from a place;
The ship leaves at midnight
At what time does your train leave?
She didn't leave until midnight
Synonyms: go forth / go away
leave (v.)
go and leave behind, either intentionally or by neglect or forgetfulness;
she wept thinking she had been left behind
She left a mess when she moved out
His good luck finally left him
her husband left her after 20 years of marriage
leave (v.)
act or be so as to become in a specified state;
The president's remarks left us speechless
The inflation left them penniless
leave (v.)
leave unchanged or undisturbed or refrain from taking;
leave the young fawn alone
leave the flowers that you see in the park behind
leave it as is
Synonyms: leave alone / leave behind / let alone
leave (v.)
move out of or depart from;
the fugitive has left the country
leave the room
Synonyms: exit / go out / get out
leave (v.)
make a possibility or provide opportunity for; permit to be attainable or cause to remain;
This leaves no room for improvement
leave lots of time for the trip
Synonyms: allow for / allow / provide
leave (v.)
produce as a result or residue;
Her blood left a stain on the napkin
The water left a mark on the silk dress
Synonyms: result / lead
leave (v.)
remove oneself from an association with or participation in;
The teenager left home
She wants to leave
She left her position with the Red Cross
He left the Senate after two terms
Synonyms: depart / pull up stakes
leave (v.)
put into the care or protection of someone;
leave your child in the nurse's care
He left the decision to his deputy
Synonyms: entrust
leave (v.)
leave or give by will after one's death;
My grandfather left me his entire estate
Synonyms: bequeath / will
leave (v.)
have left or have as a remainder;
19 minus 8 leaves 11
That left the four of us
leave (v.)
be survived by after one's death;
At her death, she left behind her husband and 11 cats
He left six children
Synonyms: leave behind
leave (v.)
transmit (knowledge or skills);
leave your name and address here
Synonyms: impart / give / pass on
leave (v.)
leave behind unintentionally;
I left my keys inside the car and locked the doors
Synonyms: forget
leave (n.)
the period of time during which you are absent from work or duty;
a ten day's leave to visit his mother
Synonyms: leave of absence
leave (n.)
permission to do something;
she was granted leave to speak
leave (n.)
the act of departing politely;
he took his leave
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.