1 [left]
of, pertaining to, or located on or near the side of a person or thing that is turned toward the west when the subject is facing north (opposed to right ).
(often initial capital letter) of or belonging to the political Left; having liberal or radical views in politics.
Mathematics. pertaining to an element of a set that has a given property when written on the left of an element or set of elements of the set: a left identity, as 1 in 1 ⋅ x = x.
the left side or something that is on the left side.
a turn toward the left: Make a left at the next corner.
the Left.
the complex of individuals or organized groups advocating liberal reform or revolutionary change in the social, political, or economic order.
the position held by these people. Compare right ( def 33a, b ).
(usually initial capital letter) Government.
the part of a legislative assembly, especially in continental Europe, that is situated on the left side of the presiding officer and that is customarily assigned to members of the legislature who hold more radical and socialistic views than the rest of the members.
the members of such an assembly who sit on the left.
Boxing. a blow delivered by the left hand.
Baseball. left field ( def 1 ).
toward the left: She moved left on entering the room.

1125–75; 1935–40 for def 6; Middle English left, lift, luft, Old English left idle, weak, useless, Kentish form of lyft- (in lyftādl palsy); cognate with Dutch, Low German lucht; akin to Middle English libbe (modern dial. lib) to castrate, cognate with Dutch, Low German lubben

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2 [left]
simple past tense and past participle of leave1.
get left,
to be left stranded.
to miss an opportunity, objective, etc.


1 [leev]
verb (used with object), left, leaving.
to go out of or away from, as a place: to leave the house.
to depart from permanently; quit: to leave a job.
to let remain or have remaining behind after going, disappearing, ceasing, etc.: I left my wallet home. The wound left a scar.
to allow to remain in the same place, condition, etc.: Is there any coffee left?
to let stay or be as specified: to leave a door unlocked.
to let (a person or animal) remain in a position to do something without interference: We left him to his work.
to let (a thing) remain for action or decision: We left the details to the lawyer.
to give in charge; deposit; entrust: Leave the package with the receptionist. I left my name and phone number.
to stop; cease; give up: He left music to study law.
to disregard; neglect: We will leave this for the moment and concentrate on the major problem.
to give for use after one's death or departure: to leave all one's money to charity.
to have remaining after death: He leaves a wife and three children.
to have as a remainder after subtraction: 2 from 4 leaves 2.
Nonstandard. let1 ( defs 1, 2, 6 ).
verb (used without object), left, leaving.
to go away, depart, or set out: We leave for Europe tomorrow.
Verb phrases
leave alone. alone ( def 7 ).
leave off,
to desist from; cease; stop; abandon.
to stop using or wearing: It had stopped raining, so we left off our coats.
to omit: to leave a name off a list.
leave out, to omit; exclude: She left out an important detail in her account.

before 900; Middle English leven, Old English lǣfan (causative formation from base of lāf remainder; see lave2); cognate with Old High German leiban (compare German bleiben to remain), Old Norse leifa, Gothic -laibjan

leaver, noun

1, 2. abandon, forsake, desert; relinquish. 9. forbear, renounce. 10. ignore, forget. 11. bequeath, will; devise, transmit.

1, 2. join.

Leave is interchangeable with let when followed by alone with the sense “to refrain from annoying or interfering with”: Leave (or Let) her alone and she will solve the problem easily. When he was left (or let) alone without interruptions, the boy quickly assembled the apparatus. The use of leave alone for let alone in the sense “not to mention” is nonstandard: There wasn't any standing room, let (not leave) alone a seat, so I missed the performance.
Other substitutions of leave for let are generally regarded as nonstandard: Let (not Leave) us sit down and talk this over. Let (not Leave) her do it her own way. The police wouldn't let (not leave) us cross the barriers. See also let1.


3 [leev]
verb (used without object), leaved, leaving.
to put forth leaves; leaf.

1250–1300; Middle English leven, derivative of lef leaf

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
leave1 (liːv)
vb , leaves, leaving, left
1.  (also intr) to go or depart (from a person or place)
2.  to cause to remain behind, often by mistake, in a place: he often leaves his keys in his coat
3.  to cause to be or remain in a specified state: paying the bill left him penniless
4.  to renounce or abandon: to leave a political movement
5.  to refrain from consuming or doing something: the things we have left undone
6.  to result in; cause: childhood problems often leave emotional scars
7.  to allow to be or remain subject to another person or thing: leave the past to look after itself
8.  to entrust or commit: leave the shopping to her
9.  to submit in place of one's personal appearance: will you leave your name and address?
10.  to pass in a specified direction: flying out of the country, we left the cliffs on our left
11.  to be survived by (members of one's family): he leaves a wife and two children
12.  to bequeath or devise: he left his investments to his children
13.  (tr) to have as a remainder: 37 -- 14 leaves 23
14.  not standard to permit; let
15.  informal leave be to leave undisturbed
16.  not standard leave go, leave hold of to stop holding
17.  informal leave it at that to take a matter no further
18.  leave much to be desired to be very unsatisfactory
19.  leave someone alone
 a.  See let Also: let alone
 b.  to permit to stay or be alone
20.  leave someone to himself not to control or direct someone
[Old English lǣfan; related to belīfan to be left as a remainder]

leave2 (liːv)
1.  permission to do something: he was granted leave to speak
2.  by your leave, with your leave with your permission
3.  permission to be absent, as from a place of work or duty: leave of absence
4.  the duration of such absence: ten days' leave
5.  a farewell or departure (esp in the phrase take (one's) leave)
6.  on leave officially excused from work or duty
7.  take leave to say farewell (to)
8.  take leave of one's senses to go mad or become irrational
[Old English lēaf; related to alӯfan to permit, Middle High German loube permission]

leave3 (liːv)
vb , leaves, leaving, leaved
(intr) to produce or grow leaves

left1 (lɛft)
1.  (usually prenominal) of or designating the side of something or someone that faces west when the front is turned towards the north
2.  (usually prenominal) worn on a left hand, foot, etc
3.  (sometimes capital) of or relating to the political or intellectual left
4.  (sometimes capital) radical or progressive, esp as compared to less radical or progressive groups, persons, etc
5.  on or in the direction of the left
6.  a left side, direction, position, area, or partRelated: sinister, sinistral
7.  (often capital) the supporters or advocates of varying degrees of social, political, or economic change, reform, or revolution designed to promote the greater freedom, power, welfare, or comfort of the common people
8.  to the left radical in the methods, principles, etc, employed in striving to achieve such change
9.  boxing
 a.  a blow with the left hand
 b.  the left hand
Related: sinister, sinistral
[Old English left idle, weak, variant of lyft- (in lyftādl palsy, literally: left-disease); related to Middle Dutch lucht left]

left2 (lɛft)
the past tense and past participle of leave

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

O.E. læfan "to let remain, remain, bequeath," from P.Gmc. *laibijan (cf. O.Fris. leva "to leave," O.S. farlebid "left over"), causative of *liban "remain," (cf. O.E. belifan, Ger. bleiben, Goth. bileiban "to remain"), from root *laf- "remnant, what remains" (see life,
live), from PIE *lip-/*leip-. The Gmc. root has only the sense "remain, continue," which also is in Gk. lipares "persevering, importunate." But this usually is regarded as a development from the primary PIE sense of "adhere, be sticky" (cf. Lith. lipti, O.C.S. lipet "to adhere," Gk. lipos "grease," Skt. rip-/lip- "to smear, adhere to." Seemingly contradictory meaning of "depart" (early 13c.) comes from notion of "to leave behind" (as in to leave the earth "to die;" to leave the field "retreat").

"permission," O.E. leafe, dat./acc. of leaf "permission," from W.Gmc. *lauba, cognate with O.E. lief "dear," the original idea being "approval resulting from pleasure." See also love, believe. In military sense, it is attested from 1771.

c.1200, from Kentish form of O.E. lyft- "weak, foolish" (cf. lyft-adl "lameness, paralysis," E.Fris. luf, Du. dial. loof "weak, worthless"). It emerged 13c. as "opposite of right," a derived sense also found in M.Du., Low Ger. luchter, luft. Ger. link, Du. linker "left" are from O.H.G. slinc, M.Du.
slink "left," related to O.E. slincan "crawl," Sw. linka "limp," slinka "dangle." Replaced O.E. winestra, lit. "friendlier," a euphemism used superstitiously to avoid invoking the unlucky forces connected with the left side (see sinister). The Kentish word itself may have been originally a taboo replacement, if instead it represents PIE root *laiwo-, meaning "considered conspicuous" (represented in Gk. laios, Latvian laevus, and Rus. levyi). Gk. also uses a euphemism for "left," aristeros "the better one" (cf. also Avestan vairyastara- "to the left," from vairya- "desirable"). But Lith. kairys "left" and Lettish kreilis "left hand" derive from a root that yields words for "twisted, crooked." Political sense arose from members of a legislative body assigned to the left side of a chamber, first attested in Eng. 1837 (by Carlyle, in ref. to the Fr. Revolution), probably a loan-translation of Fr. la gauche (1791), said to have originated during the seating of the Fr. National Assembly in 1789 in which the nobility took the seats on the President's right and left the Third Estate to sit on the left. Became general in U.S. and British political speech c.1900. Used since at least 1612 in various senses of "irregular, illicit," such as the phrase left-handed compliment (1881). Phrase out in left field "unorthodox, unexpected" is attested from 1959. Lefty "left-handed person" is 1886, Amer.Eng., baseball slang. The Left Bank of Paris has been associated with intellectual and artistic culture since at least 1893.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with left, also see hang a left; out in left field; right and left; take up where one left off; two left feet.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
My pain may start on the left side of the neck, traveling down further left to
  surround the heart.
When the researchers stimulate the left side, the fish turn to the left.
When you see the right side of the left photo next to the left side of the
  right photo, it looks lopsided in comparison.
Portion of the side of the church can be seen on the left side of the
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