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

Guns, for them, are not about hunting or self-defense or the frontier spirit or any of the other fig leaves that are brandished every time their true agenda starts to show. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, "Gun Culture Has Always Been About White Supremacy," 4 Aug. 2019 While hanging on to the diplomatic fig leaf of Pyongyang’s permanent, irreversible denuclearization, Mr. Trump appears to have come to terms with North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Michael Auslin, WSJ, "Trump’s Pyongyang Pivot," 26 Feb. 2019 At this point, the court order is something of a legal fig leaf that protects the magnet program, giving it a legal right to continue. Howard Blume,, "School busing and race tore L.A. apart in the 1970s. Now, Kamala Harris is reviving debate," 28 June 2019 And the myth is two conflicting myths: The first is the fig leaf that the sponsoring organization — Fidelity Charitable — maintains control. Theodore Schleifer, Vox, "Today’s “working robber barons” have used a tax break to create a $110 billion charity stockpile, called donor-advised funds. It isn’t getting any smaller.," 2 July 2019 For most, the argument was a fig leaf to justify their shameful failure to protect innocent unborn life. Marc A. Thiessen, The Mercury News, "Thiessen: Biden’s surrender on abortion is theater of the absurd," 12 June 2019 For now, the restaurant will offer a seasonal strawberry tiramisu alongside chocolate spelt cannoli, a fig leaf panna cotta and good gelato from Southeast Division Street’s Pinolo. Michael Russell,, "Ava Gene’s reopens Sunday after two-month renovation," 6 June 2019 In routine news and feature stories, Trump's dishonesty carries no fig leaf. Brian Stelter, CNN, "Pew Research Center finds widespread agreement about the 'made-up news' malady," 6 June 2019 In routine news and feature stories, Trump’s dishonesty carries no fig leaf. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Analysis: Media starting to describe falsehoods as ‘lies’," 5 June 2019

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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Last Updated

4 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for fig leaf

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

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fig leaf

Comments on fig leaf

What made you want to look up fig leaf? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


readily or continually undergoing change

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