leaf

noun, often attributive
\ ˈlēf How to pronounce leaf (audio) \
plural leaves\ ˈlēvz How to pronounce leaves (audio) \ also leafs\ ˈlēfs How to pronounce leafs (audio) \

Definition of leaf

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : a lateral (see lateral entry 1 sense 2) outgrowth from a plant stem that is typically a flattened expanded variably shaped greenish organ, constitutes a unit of the foliage, and functions primarily in food manufacture by photosynthesis
(2) : a modified leaf (such as a bract or sepal) primarily engaged in functions other than food manufacture
b(1) : foliage trees in full leaf
(2) : the leaves of a plant as an article of commerce
2 : something suggestive of a leaf: such as
a : a part of a book or folded sheet containing a page on each side
b(1) : a part (as of window shutters, folding doors, or gates) that slides or is hinged
(2) : the movable parts of a table top added a leaf to the table to accommodate more people
c(1) : a thin sheet or plate of any substance : lamina
(2) : metal (such as gold or silver) in sheets usually thinner than foil
(3) : one of the plates of a leaf spring

leaf

verb
leafed; leafing; leafs

Definition of leaf (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to shoot out or produce leaves will leaf out in spring
2 : to turn over pages especially to browse or skim leaf through a book

transitive verb

: to turn over the pages of

Illustration of leaf

Illustration of leaf

Noun

forms of leaf 1a(1): 1 needle-shaped, 2 linear, 3 lanceolate, 4 elliptical, 5 ensiform, 6 oblong, 7 oblanceolate with acuminate tip, 8 ovate with acute tip, 9 obovate, 10 spatulate, 11 fiddle-shaped, 12 cuneate, 13 deltoid, 14 cordate, 15 reniform, 16 orbiculate, 17 runcinate, 18 lyrate, 19 peltate, 20 hastate, 21 sagittate, 22 odd-pinnate, 23 abruptly pinnate, 24 trifoliolate, 25, 26 palmate

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from leaf

Noun

leafless \ ˈlēf-​ləs How to pronounce leafless (audio) \ adjective
leaflike \ ˈlēf-​ˌlīk How to pronounce leaflike (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for leaf

Synonyms: Verb

flip, riffle, skim, thumb

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Examples of leaf in a Sentence

Noun

I heard the rustle of the autumn leaves. a pile of dead leaves The trees drop their leaves in the fall, and new leaves grow again in the spring. The trees have not yet come into leaf.

Verb

we must have spent hours leafing through wallpaper books before we found something we both liked
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The movement of the sea, flowing toward the island, was a kiss; the grazing sheep kissed the earth; the air amid the leaves and grass was a lament of kisses. Lily Tuck, WSJ, "‘Arturo’s Island’ Review: Childhood’s End," 22 Feb. 2019 This brand-new little evergreen has shiny leaves and fine branches. Arricca Sansone, Country Living, "20 Best Boxwood Shrubs to Plant in Your Garden," 14 Feb. 2019 That said, Cuccinelli’s anxiety reeks of overreading tea leaves, and more mainstream conservatives like National Review’s Ed Whelan have vigorously defended Kavanaugh on the case. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh likely gives the Supreme Court the votes to overturn Roe. Here’s how they’d do it.," 5 Oct. 2018 In Viloria and other hamlets in the shade of the limestone ranges of Loquiz and Urbasa, that's achieved by covering pyramids of wood with hay, dry leaves and a layer of insulating soil. Alvaro Barrientos, Fox News, "Charcoal makers in Spain keep embers of an old trade burning," 13 Sep. 2018 To make the lobster mix, combine the lobster meat, celery, tarragon leaves and lemon aioli. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "Here's the Best Food to Eat at the US Open," 30 Aug. 2018 After the cutting of their ivory tiered cake decorated with olive leaves, the DJ—plus a late-night crepe stand—kept guests dancing until 6am. John Dolan, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Couple Didn't Believe in Love at First Sight–Until It Happened to Them," 6 Aug. 2018 Look for 50 to 150 white flowers in umbrella-like clusters with leaves up to five feet across. Sarah Klein, Health.com, "Giant Hogweed Sent This Virginia Teen to the Hospital. Here's What to Know About the Scary Plant That Can Burn Your Skin and Lead to Blindness," 13 July 2018 Some are in traditional Semenov style, hand-painted in traditional red, gold and black with leaves and vines wrapping around the wooden exteriors. Elizabeth Myong, Houston Chronicle, "Russians in Houston have diverse views on international affairs," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The final room of the show presents surveillance footage, sent in by Eckhaus Latta’s retail partners, of unsuspecting shoppers leafing through their last collection. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "A Museum Show Where the Exhibits Are for Sale," 6 Aug. 2018 Paul Newman kicking up his white-socked feet while leafing through movie scripts with his wife Joanne in January 1958. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "White Socks and Black Loafers. Stylish or Best Left to Michael Jackson?," 26 Sep. 2018 As spring temperatures warmed, oak trees were leafing out earlier and peak caterpillar season was arriving up to two weeks sooner in some places. New York Times, "5 Plants and Animals Utterly Confused by Climate Change," 4 Apr. 2018 The trees have fully leafed, flowers are blooming, bees pollinating, the Island in the City Festival is right around the corner. Staff Report, chicagotribune.com, "Shout Out: Lidia Andronic is a Harwood Heights beekeeper looking out for our pollinators," 6 July 2018 The result will be familiar to many — a tree that leafs out with not a whole lot of vim and vigor and then collapses after a few hot days. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "There's no such thing as 'average' Kentucky weather. And trees hate that," 13 July 2018 Trees in the Northern Hemisphere leaf out in the spring as frost recedes. Caterpillars hatch to gorge on leaves. New York Times, "5 Plants and Animals Utterly Confused by Climate Change," 4 Apr. 2018 The next spring the vine leafed out solidly and there, somewhere in the foliage, hung one thin straggle of purple flowers. Murr Brewster, The Christian Science Monitor, "Attack of the purple ‘bean trees’," 6 June 2018 This is affecting the entire tree in both cases, including parts that have just leafed out yet have not produced any buds. OregonLive.com, "Should I pinch off blueberry blossoms? What fertilizer is best? Ask an expert," 28 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word '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 leaf

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb

1611, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for leaf

Noun

Middle English leef, from Old English lēaf; akin to Old High German loub leaf

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Statistics for leaf

Last Updated

16 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for leaf

The first known use of leaf was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for leaf

leaf

noun

English Language Learners Definition of leaf

: one of the flat and typically green parts of a plant that grow from a stem or twig
: a sheet of paper in a book
: a part that can be added to or removed from a table to change the size of its top surface

leaf

noun
\ ˈlēf How to pronounce leaf (audio) \
plural leaves\ ˈlēvz \

Kids Definition of leaf

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one of the usually flat green parts that grow from a plant stem and that functions mainly in making food by photosynthesis
2 : foliage The trees are in full leaf.
3 : a single sheet of a book containing a page on each side
4 : a part that can be added to or removed from a table top

Other Words from leaf

leafless \ ˈlēf-​ləs \ adjective
leaflike \ ˈlēf-​ˌlīk \ adjective

leaf

verb
leafed; leafing

Kids Definition of leaf (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to grow leaves The trees will leaf out in the spring.
2 : to turn the pages of a book

leaf

noun
\ ˈlēf How to pronounce leaf (audio) \

Medical Definition of leaf

: a thin layer or sheet of tissue the anterior leaf of the coronary ligament

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More from Merriam-Webster on leaf

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with leaf

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for leaf

Spanish Central: Translation of leaf

Nglish: Translation of leaf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of leaf for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about leaf

Comments on leaf

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