fo·​liage ˈfō-lē-ij How to pronounce foliage (audio)
 also  -lyij;
 nonstandard  ˈfō-lij,
ˈfȯi-lij How to pronounce foliage (audio)
: a representation of leaves, flowers, and branches for architectural ornamentation
The doorframe was decorated with beautifully carved foliage.
: the aggregate of leaves of one or more plants
trees with colorful autumn foliage
: a cluster of leaves, flowers, and branches
A wreath of foliage adorned her front door.
ˈfō-lē-ijd How to pronounce foliage (audio)
 also  -lyijd;
 nonstandard  ˈfō-lijd
 nonstandard  ˈfȯi-
How do you pronounce foliage?: Usage Guide

The disyllabic pronunciation \ˈfō-lij\ is very common. Some commentators insist that foliage requires a trisyllabic pronunciation because of its spelling, but words of a similar pattern such as carriage and marriage do not fall under their prescription. The pronunciation \ˈfȯi-lij\ is disapproved because it suggests the transposition of the l and i in the spelling. It is not as common as \ˈfō-lij\ and may be associated with the nonstandard spelling foilage.

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How Do You Pronounce foliage?

Whether you’re a casual leaf peeper or a card-carrying botanist, a staunch New Englander or Caribbean beach bum, there’s plenty to love about foliage—though the pronunciation of foliage has long been a point of contention among English speakers. Most commonly accepted is the trisyllabic \FOH-lee-ij\. However, there’s no denying that the pronunciations \FOH-lij\ and even \FOY-lij\ have also staked their claim. The first of these disputed pronunciations is consistent with the pronunciation of the -iage ending in marriage and carriage. The second is often more fiercely denounced, in part because of its association with the nonstandard spelling foilage. But there’s redemption for this estranged pronunciation: foliage traces back to Middle French foille ("leaf"), which is also the source of the English word foil (as in "aluminum foil"). When adopted by Middle English speakers, foil originally meant "leaf." Love it or leaf it, there’s just no taking the "foil" out of foliage.

Examples of foliage in a Sentence

a tree with pretty foliage the thick green foliage of the jungle
Recent Examples on the Web The best time of year to drive the Great River Road depends on your travel preferences, but fall can be a great time to take advantage of beautiful foliage views. Katy Spratte Joyce, Travel + Leisure, 12 Nov. 2023 While they aren't hosted or owned by any of America's leading domestic entrepreneurs, they can be found under any number of round-ups: Airbnbs in America's beautiful small towns, Airbnbs for foliage spotting, Airbnbs near New York City. Charlie Hobbs, Condé Nast Traveler, 6 Nov. 2023 Something Pretty Floral in Dallas blended fall foliage and lush blooms for the affair’s stunning florals, while Harrison’s friend Cameron Treu, owner of Bam Bams BBQ, cooked up brisket, pulled pork, sausage, turkey, coleslaw, mac and cheese, potato salad and banana pudding. Emily Strohm, Peoplemag, 5 Nov. 2023 But this image is embedded in an elaborate, symphonic collage of experiences, from their view of foliage on the road behind them and the sight of Isaiah at the wheel through the cab’s rear window to the hair styles and dresses that the girls wear. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 2 Nov. 2023 Peak foliage is from the last two weeks of October through the first two weeks of November. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 17 Oct. 2023 Upstairs, there are two more secondary bedrooms and baths, plus a lounge area and a couple of roof terraces, both shielded from neighbors by tall trees and mature foliage. Mark David, Robb Report, 2 Nov. 2023 Many varieties grow well in a hanging basket or on a shelf from which their foliage can dangle. Lauren David, Washington Post, 26 Oct. 2023 For a more predictable display of fall colors, Ontario and Quebec are prime options, with the foliage lasting upwards of two months in September and October. Jonny Bierman, Travel + Leisure, 20 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle French fuellage, from foille leaf — more at foil entry 2

First Known Use

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of foliage was in 1598


Dictionary Entries Near foliage

Cite this Entry

“Foliage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


 also  ˈfōl-yij
: the mass of leaves of a plant
 also  -yijd

an altered form of earlier foillage "a mass of leaves," from early French fuellage (same meaning), from fuelle, foille "leaf," derived from Latin folium "leaf" — related to foil entry 2, portfolio

More from Merriam-Webster on foliage

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