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

The thing looks like a pale leaf but is made of jade and is supposed to move sluggish lymph fluid and ease facial tension. Alice Gregory, Allure, "I Got Fillers for My Chronic Undereye Circles, and the Results Were Impressive," 28 Apr. 2019 The collection features porcelain trays, coasters, and boxes emblazoned with a silver hemp leaf on a black background or a sultry pair of red lips dangling a smoke. Jennifer Milne, ELLE Decor, "In Time for 4/20, the Ultimate and Uber-Chic Weed Accessories from Jonathan Adler," 19 Apr. 2019 Just snip a leaf as close to the stem as possible and scoop it out or rub the cut-end on your sore spots. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Why Your Sunburn Itches — And How to Stop It," 19 Apr. 2019 The former party boy, who, before his engagement to Meghan Markle, often made tabloid headlines for his devilish romps near and far (in Las Vegas, to be exact), seems to have turned a new leaf. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "All the Ways Meghan Markle Has Transformed Prince Harry’s Bad Boy Health Habits," 4 Jan. 2019 If anyone thought that Elon Musk had turned over a new leaf following a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over illegally manipulating Tesla's stock price, think again. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Elon Musk on 60 Minutes: “I do not respect the SEC”," 10 Dec. 2018 Seemingly seeking to turn over a new leaf, Wheeler spoke with reporters from The Post and the Wall Street Journal shortly after learning he would be elevated. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: The EPA won't change policy after Pruitt. But it might be more transparent about it.," 10 July 2018 When a defender’s knee obstructs the path of his dribbling, he is knocked into the air, then floats down to the turf like a leaf. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Annoying Genius Who Makes the World Cup Worth Watching," 5 July 2018 Top with a splash of club soda to taste and a basil leaf for garnish. Maya Wilson, Anchorage Daily News, "Rhubarb meets gin in a rose-colored, refreshing summer cocktail," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

14 May 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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