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

Fold in rice, mint, cilantro, parsley, tarragon and celery leaf. Osayi Endolyn, WSJ, "Why Chefs Are Elevating Rice to Star Ingredient Status," 13 July 2018 The dispensaries — 364 — are plentiful and some are instantly recognizable with green neon lights, green crosses and ubiquitous marijuana leaves. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "What Michigan needs to learn from Colorado's legalized marijuana," 12 July 2018 Factoring in the outdoors, something as subtle as falling leaves can result in a false alert; a big truck rumbling down the road might also set off a notification of potential trouble when there’s really none. Diane Cowen, San Antonio Express-News, "Home security is more affordable — and better —than ever," 12 July 2018 Also, growers should not spray plants with water, as droplets on leaves can magnify the sun’s intensity. Sara Cardine, latimes.com, "Acres of historic camellias at Descanso Gardens scorched during weekend’s triple-digit heat," 12 July 2018 Among the other veggies are broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, Easter Egg radishes, greens mix, baby lettuce mix, escarole, pac choi, rhubarb, arugula, leaf lettuces, chives and basil. Steve Edwards, Anchorage Daily News, "Last week’s warm weather means more local veggies at farmers markets this week," 11 July 2018 Toss the peaches and blueberries with the cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice, salt and thyme leaves. Ellise Pierce, star-telegram, "It's time to start cooking with summer’s tasty top prize — Texas peaches," 10 July 2018 Second, the review leaves open the possibility for the US to consider responding to devastating cyberattacks against the homeland with a nuclear bomb. Alex Ward, Vox, "The most important part of the Trump-Putin summit no one is talking about," 5 July 2018 In the 1980s, hardly any trees had leaves during the race. Katie Langin, Science | AAAS, "36 years of bike race footage reveals how Belgium’s climate is changing," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 If the top of the trunk does not leaf out eventually, contact the source of your plants and get new plants. Ellen Nibali, baltimoresun.com, "Garden Q&A: How to keep lace bugs from turning your plants yellow," 17 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

15 Oct 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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Comments on leaf

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