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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Falling tree limbs have punched holes in the outer layer of the roof, and leaf debris has fallen into the channels and cannot be removed. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2022 Some might think red-leaf lettuce, known as a healthy choice, would be best. WIRED, 18 Sep. 2022 That leaf will cure your cold, and this bark will help relieve your arthritis. Palabra, al, 16 Sep. 2022 This year's dry, hot summer could leave leaf peepers with less vibrant fall colors to enjoy. From USA TODAY Opinion: King Charles III must do better than his mother on colonialism and reparations. Steve Coogan, USA TODAY, 16 Sep. 2022 On rare occasions, your banana plant may encounter a few leaf diseases like powdery mildew. Savanna Bous, Better Homes & Gardens, 16 Sep. 2022 Pigments are the chemicals that are found inside each leaf. Shanti Lerner, The Arizona Republic, 16 Sep. 2022 Drape a maple leaf garland on your staircase, create an easy Thanksgiving centerpiece for your dining table and load your front porch with festive fall decor. Alyssa Gautieri, Good Housekeeping, 16 Sep. 2022 Always whole-leaf lettuce, with two, maybe more perfect green arcs. Brandon Mercer, Chron, 16 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The tree was just starting to leaf out when the April freeze hit. oregonlive, 22 May 2022 Most perennials for shade are white and bloom in early spring for only a couple of weeks before the trees leaf out. Carol Stocker, BostonGlobe.com, 3 July 2022 Residents grew emotional attachment to their trees and took notice of problems, Purcell said, calling him often, like when a tree failed to fully leaf out in the spring. Ryan Martin, The Indianapolis Star, 22 June 2022 Evergreen trees and shrubs and deciduous plants that have started to leaf out and flower will catch more snow than dormant plants. oregonlive, 11 Apr. 2022 At the cusp of what feels like the first genuine spring in three years, who can wait for the trees to leaf out before seizing on the change of season? Wsj Editors, WSJ, 25 Mar. 2022 Ready to leaf the hustle and bustle of city life behind? Annie Blanks, San Antonio Express-News, 12 Jan. 2022 Oh, and don’t be in a hurry to prune what might be slow to leaf out next spring. oregonlive, 4 Dec. 2021 Players can leaf through the issue and read both articles. Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 29 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

21 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Leaf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leaf. Accessed 24 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for leaf


\ 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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