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 What is clear is that the agricultural carbon sequestration dream serves as a fig leaf for increasingly consolidated agribusiness—and the urgent reforms needed both for curbing emissions and rethinking American agriculture. Charlie Mitchell, The New Republic, "Farms Can’t Save the Planet," 7 Aug. 2020 But to the theory’s adherents, the lock-step maneuvers by the Fed and the government were not the arrival of a far-out idea but the removal of a fig leaf. Matt Phillips, New York Times, "How the Government Pulls Coronavirus Relief Money Out of Thin Air," 15 Apr. 2020 The Marlow Collective beverage, for example, is inspired by a grapefruit spritzer, with bitter grapefruit balanced by nutty fig leaves, cardamom, and vanilla. Rachel King, Fortune, "Liquor brands are sponsoring relief programs for bar and restaurant industry workers," 7 Apr. 2020 Snap a fig leaf from the branch for savory simple syrup; soak chestnut leaves in brandy to wrap around fresh pats of goat cheese; pickle perilla for a salty, herbal Korean snack; or dry vibrant sassafras for a winter's worth of gumbo filé. Kat Craddock, Saveur, "10 Flavor-Packed Leaves From Around the World to Bring Into Your Kitchen," 25 May 2017 Critics warn that the Greens risk becoming a fig leaf for Mr. Kurz’s hard right agenda. Katrin Bennhold, New York Times, "A Onetime ‘Refugee Child’ Takes On Austria’s Far Right," 7 Feb. 2020 This proffers a fig leaf for those senators who may believe that Trump did everything that is alleged but who still want to support acquittal. Jeannie Suk Gersen, The New Yorker, "What Would a Fair Impeachment Trial Look Like?," 29 Jan. 2020 Instead there were simple round pie crusts, artfully scored with designs of apricot and fig leaves. al, "Kicking off King Cake season with a European twist," 7 Jan. 2020 Together, these laws formed the legal fig leaf for the Deoli incarceration. Naresh Fernandes, Quartz India, "India risks repeating the shameful 1960s internment of its Chinese community," 6 Jan. 2020

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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Last Updated

10 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fig leaf.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on fig leaf

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fig leaf

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fig leaf

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