fig leaf


Definition of fig leaf

1 : the leaf of a fig tree
2 [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 That approach provided a fig leaf of legal tolerance for political dissent, which is guaranteed under Russia’s 1993 post-Soviet Constitution and seen as a touchstone for what separated contemporary Russia from the Soviet Union. New York Times, 26 Apr. 2021 Aware of being stark naked, Darren moved his hands to form a fig leaf. Hermione Hoby, Harper's Magazine, 22 June 2021 Apple’s commitment to civil liberties has always been a fig leaf, more a branding strategy than an actual position. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 18 May 2021 The court just gave the bishops and others who cite religious freedom as an excuse for their bigotry a nice big fig leaf, ruling that a Catholic group in Philadelphia could exclude LGBTQ people as foster parents., 21 June 2021 This is all done to provide a fig leaf for more senior leaders while destroying the careers of quality officers and NCOs. Robert M. Berg, National Review, 19 May 2021 The gesture felt defensive, as a virtuous fig leaf on the fair’s naked avarice. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 17 May 2021 Their administration from the British Colonial Office, however, made the term a rather transparent fig leaf. Priya Satia, Time, 27 Apr. 2021 The strong fellow feeling that still binds together Catholic nationalists of all economic stripes is really the only fig leaf left disguising the nakedly economic nature of the ongoing violence. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, 15 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fig leaf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fig leaf

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near fig leaf

fight with

fig leaf

fig marigold

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Last Updated

18 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fig leaf.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for fig leaf

fig leaf


English Language Learners Definition of fig leaf

: the leaf of a fig tree
: something that prevents embarrassment or criticism by covering or hiding something

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