fig leaf


: the leaf of a fig tree
[from the use by Adam and Eve of fig leaves to cover their nakedness after eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:7)] : something that conceals or camouflages usually inadequately or dishonestly

Examples of fig leaf in a Sentence

Opponents claim that the humanitarian goals of the project are just a fig leaf, and that its real purpose is to make money.
Recent Examples on the Web Conservatives dismiss universities as factories for indoctrination, while liberals believe that the whole idea of meritocratic admissions is a fig leaf for upper-class power hoarding. Mark Gimein, theweek, 19 Feb. 2024 The fig leaf reformist candidate, Mohsen Mehralizadeh, former governor of the province of Isfahan, was not backed even by reformist coalitions and also dropped out on June 16, further narrowing the field. Ali Vaez, Foreign Affairs, 16 June 2021 The fig leaf and woody undertones of Philosykos will complement the basil and mint in Born in Roma, creating a harmonious blend of greenery and sophistication. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, 10 May 2024 Two barely serviceable rear seats provide the stylish convertible with a fig leaf of practicality. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, 15 Feb. 2024 Former Vice President Mike Pence, a devout Christian who joined the Trump campaign as its fig leaf to the religious bloc of voters, expressed frustration with Trump’s new position this week. Philip Elliott, TIME, 9 Apr. 2024 For those watching outside Russia, the pageant provides Putin with a useful fig leaf—albeit not a very convincing one to anyone with critical-thinking skills—to claim that his rule has been approved by the popular will. Brian Klaas, The Atlantic, 14 Mar. 2024 But to Meiklejohn, this seemed like an inherently dangerous sort of fig leaf to hide behind. Andy Greenberg, Ars Technica, 18 Jan. 2024 While this may be true, this excuse was more of a fig leaf to cover up the Army’s troubles in fielding a scout/attack helicopter. Mike Hirschberg, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fig leaf.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fig leaf was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near fig leaf

Cite this Entry

“Fig leaf.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.

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