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


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


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


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

Synonyms for leaf

Synonyms: Verb

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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 Statistics show at least 40% of dogs have noise phobias, which can include fear of thunderstorms, leaf blowers, power drills and even hair dryers. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 4 July 2021 Earlier in the day June 1, landscapers blew the trash into the resident’s yard with leaf blowers. Joan Rusek, cleveland, 17 June 2021 People were urged to limit driving and use of equipment like lawn mowers and leaf blowers, work remotely if possible and avoid strenuous exercise. Michael Cabanatuan, Nora Mishanec, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 June 2021 There, in December, a restive crowd had breached the exterior doors and battled law enforcement officers in a building that is capped by a gold-leaf pioneer wielding an ax. New York Times, 8 June 2021 This includes cars, but also lawnmowers, leaf blowers and other machines that run on gasoline. London Gibson, The Indianapolis Star, 2 June 2021 Notably, the new Raptor uses a coil-spring rear suspension instead of the regular F-150′s leaf-spring design. chicagotribune.com, 14 May 2021 Aqeel Glass was not the most comfortable quarterback to open the Magic City Classic but the senior turned a new leaf in the second half to power Alabama A&M past a bitter in-state rival and into its first conference title game in a decade. Evan Dudley, al, 18 Apr. 2021 Among its problems were leaky and cracked exhaust manifolds, rusty and broken leaf-spring shackles, and truck-load of recalls. Austin Irwin, Car and Driver, 13 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Give the plants extra time in spring to leaf out before determining whether or not the stems are dead and need to be pruned back. Hannah Herrera Greenspan, chicagotribune.com, 9 June 2021 Talented entrepreneurs like Austen should leaf through an unabridged history of fast-growing education businesses that don’t deliver on promises to students. Ryan Craig, Forbes, 28 May 2021 After the announcement in January, Paretta didn’t have time to leaf through her inbox, LinkedIn messages and Twitter DMs. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 13 May 2021 Some of its upper branches have failed to leaf out. Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, 7 May 2021 Some trees will leaf out fully when hot weather arrives, and some will punch out. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, 19 Apr. 2021 Several of her palms are starting to leaf , although a pindo palm in her front yard appears to be lost for good. Richard A. Marini, San Antonio Express-News, 16 Apr. 2021 Then, when the oaks and beeches (and other forest tree species) leaf out, the spring ephemerals go dormant for the remainder of the summer. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, 12 Mar. 2021 Some plants that look dead could still leaf out as late as June, but those that already have withered, dry, brittle twigs and branches should be removed and replaced. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, 29 Mar. 2021

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


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


1611, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for leaf


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

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Time Traveler for leaf

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near leaf




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Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Leaf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leaf. Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for leaf



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


\ 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


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


\ ˈlēf How to pronounce leaf (audio) \

Medical Definition of leaf

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

More from Merriam-Webster on leaf

Nglish: Translation of leaf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of leaf for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about leaf


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