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Looking for the meaning of leave as verb, I found the following sentence, on the OALD:

Leave go of my arm—you're hurting me!

The dictionary says that the meaning of leave go is "to stop holding on to something," and that is synonym of let go.

Can I always replace let go with leave go?

  • As a native BrE speaker, I only very rarely hear 'leave go'. I think it is probably much more common in certain dialects (and in colloquial english), but in Standard English, 'let go' will almost always be more appropriate. – Σωκράτης May 11 '16 at 16:50
  • I was brought up in North East England from 1954 and am pretty sure that 'leave go' was part of our Tyneside dialect in South Shields. In fact, there was a popular children's playground game called "Leave-a-go" (perhaps the most popular of such games). Unfortunately, apart from remembering it was an active game played alongside such games as 'Tig' (or 'Tag' as it is known elsewhere), I cannot recall how it was played and can find no reference to it anywhere on the Web. It would be interesting to have confirmation that it required letting go of something or someone. – Richard Nov 3 '20 at 12:55
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As noted, this usage isn't common among Americans. But I think even in British English we normally only use leave go instead of let go in contexts where the "holding on" is literal/physical - normally to a part of the speaker's body (arm, hand. ear, etc.).

Thus, Leave go [of] my arm! is much more common than Leave go [of] his arm.

Also, you won't normally hear it used transitively, as "Leave me go!" (that's invariably "Let me go!").


FINALLY - here's a usage chart which should convince you to use let go rather than leave go...

enter image description here

  • What is your basis re literal/physical context restriction? I think this wiktionary example isn't literal/physical: “We were not left go to the beach after school except on a weekend.” – James Waldby - jwpat7 Feb 27 '13 at 22:18
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    @jwpat7: I don't accept that as a particularly credible utterance anyway. But it's a significantly different sense of let go = permitted to go. Perhaps owing something to conflation with given leave to go. I don't know. People can write anything in wiktionary - including highly localised non-standard forms. Actually, if you Google not left go to the beach they all copy that same highly suspicious example with that same suspicious site claiming it's "Irish dialect". I think it's probably so much tosh. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 28 '13 at 3:11
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Leave go for let go would not be recognized in America. It must be let go here.

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    I know; that is why I used british-english. :) – kiamlaluno Feb 27 '13 at 15:47
  • <comments removed> Please bring these discussions elsewhere. They're not relevant to improving this answer. Thanks. – Robert Cartaino Mar 8 '13 at 17:50
  • Can't say I'd ever head it in the UK either before today, but it just appeared in the latest Times cryptic crossword, so it must be kosher! – thesunneversets Jul 17 '15 at 14:29
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My husband is from Pennsylvania and he always says "Leave go" instead of "Let go" and it drives me crazy, but I guess he's the one speaking correctly. He was just saying "Leave go of that." to our toddler and I had to look it up because he's the only person I've ever met who says this. His entire family says "Leave go."

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I'm surprised at the suggestion that it's specifically a British-English phrase.

Whilst not oblivious to it's meaning, I've lived in the North of England all of my life, and can honestly say I've never heard anyone use it. I'd certainly never say it.

Perhaps it's a Southern variant. Honestly, I'd always thought it was an Americanism!

  • I live in Southern US and I can tell you I've never heard that in my entire life. I didn't even think it was grammatically correct until I read these answers about it being a British phrase :) – Nicole Apr 17 '15 at 13:26
  • Never heard it in the south of England. But it appeared in the Times crossword today, so it must be real! – thesunneversets Jul 17 '15 at 14:29
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I have heard the use of leave such as "I will leave you go now" or "I will leave you know". Used such as "we are fixin to go to Lexington and will leave you know when we start out". Lived my enitre life in Eastern, Southern Kentucky, West Virginia, and adjacent areas of Southern Ohio And Western Virginia.

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I'm from Michigan, USA and I grew up saying leave go as in, let go of my hand! Now my teenage grandson from Georgia heard me say it and laughed! Grandma what the heck does "leave go" mean??

Never, ever thought it was funny or something incorrect till he questioned it. Maybe a Canadian thing because growing up in Detroit, Mi is right next to Windsor. Just a thought!

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