leaf

noun, often attributive
\ˈlēf \
plural leaves\ˈlēvz \ also leafs\ˈlēfs \

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 \ adjective
leaflike \ˈlēf-​ˌlīk \ 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

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and hold onto them, then slice the rest of the cabbage into thin ribbons and massage it with salt. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "Here's How to Make Sauerkraut," 30 Oct. 2018 A month later the same omelet—a barely puffy marigold duvet showered with tiny leaves of baby celery, cilantro, borage flowers, and frizzled leeks—arrived with an entire soft-shelled crab astride. Tamar Adler, Vogue, "Why Pastured Eggs Are the Perfect Food," 13 Sep. 2018 The juniors' version is set to air on ABC Sunday, October 7 at 8 p.m. and will also be on while the leaves fall. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Everything to Know About the Cast and Judges of 'Dancing With the Stars' Season 27," 9 Aug. 2018 Luckily, a banana leaf of comic proportion sheltered her head. Neima Jahromi, The New Yorker, "Gilligan’s at Soho Grand," 12 July 2018 There were up to 900 individually iced flowers and leaves of 17 different varieties decorated on the cake. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton and Prince William Will Serve Their Wedding Cake at Prince Louis' Christening," 9 July 2018 At least 41 feet of unimpeded channel (one raised leaf of the bridge) will be available at all times. Kari Barnett, Sun-Sentinel.com, "FPL pole replacement among ongoing Boca Raton roadwork," 6 July 2018 Oil of lemon eucalyptus extract (also known as p-menthane-3,8-diol, or PMD) is derived from the leaves of lemon eucalyptus trees and chemically synthesized, usually in the form of a spray. Kathleen Felton, Health.com, "The One Natural Mosquito Repellent That Really Works," 27 June 2018 His company, Prakritii, makes plates and bowls from the leaves of south India's areca palm trees. The Christian Science Monitor, "In India, citizens are working together to reduce waste," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Buy Photo As 92-year-old Bette Bailey leafed through the yellowing pages of an old PTA minutes book, she was momentarily transported back to 1934. Avalon R. Zoppo, Philly.com, "A final goodbye to nearly century-old Pennsauken school slated for demolition," 21 May 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

10 Dec 2018

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 \
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 \

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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