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

This is a good thing, as earthworms help build up organic material by pulling leaves into their burrows and pooping. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, "Hilling potatoes, flowering lettuce, and other reader questions," 4 July 2019 Many other members of the Joint Chiefs and service secretaries, however, had planned leaves or were on official travel, and were sending deputies in their place. Michael D. Shear, New York Times, "Washington Prepares for a July 4 Spectacle, Starring and Produced by President Trump," 3 July 2019 The latter comes with American cheese, green leaf lettuce, tomato, pickles and Chzburger sauce. Lauren Saria, azcentral, "2 years after a coma, this Phoenix chef is back and making the burgers of his dreams," 3 July 2019 Strong, a very extra chef indeed, tucks it in a shaggy blanket of bronze fennel fronds, torn mint, parsley and carrot leaves. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, "The Mission’s Prairie switches gears, but is it better?," 3 July 2019 Spoon it into an outer romaine leaf or eat it as is. Cynthia Sass, Mph, Health.com, "7 Healthy Late-Night Snacks," 3 July 2019 This silver leaf mirror has a facetted edge that serves as its own frame and gives off a modern geometric vibe. Lauren Hubbard, ELLE Decor, "Classic Pieces Every Room in Your Home Needs," 3 July 2019 The fashion house has recreated everything from an arctic wonderland with a real iceberg to a forest full of trees and leaves. Kristen Bateman, Allure, "Chanel's Minimal Ponytails Are Summer's Easiest Hairstyle," 2 July 2019 The royal parents wished their Instagram followers a happy Canada Day with throwback photo to their 2011 visit to Canada, when Kate sported a hat inspired by the country’s maple leaf symbol. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, "Happy Canada Day! Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Pay Tribute to the New Royal Mom's Former Home," 1 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

For Clairemont’s Esther Erdell, 82, visiting Old Town is like leafing through a family photo album. Peter Rowe, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Spirit of (18)76: Old Town celebrates July 4 with a 19th century vibe," 5 July 2019 Suddenly, the trees have leafed out completely and the quiet suburban landscape is punctuated by a crystal blue sky. Randy Blaser, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Summer is here. You better enjoy it while it lasts.," 6 June 2019 Even without a cell phone, bosses can snub their employees by not giving them their full attention, whether that’s twirling a pen or leafing through other documents. Mary Hui, Washington Post, "Does your boss ‘phub’ you to focus on a smartphone? Science explains why that’s a stupid move," 4 Jan. 2018 Despite lacking text of any kind, this book told even a child that it was meant to be leafed through from start to finish. The New York Review of Books, "Joel Smith," 18 Apr. 2019 Vlogs rose to popularity out of viewers' desires to see someone's everyday life, but for Kylie that means leafing through closets of Alexander Wang and throwing expensive surprise birthday parties. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "The 8 Least Relatable Things That Happen In Kylie Jenner's "Day In The Life" Vlog," 6 June 2019 Mortensen’s character, Tony, takes it on the trip and leafs through it several times. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Green Book builds a feel-good comedy atop an artifact of shameful segregation. Yikes.," 7 Jan. 2019 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

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

9 Jul 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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