tre·​foil | \ ˈtrē-ˌfȯi(-ə)l How to pronounce trefoil (audio) , ˈtre- How to pronounce trefoil (audio) \

Definition of trefoil

1a : clover sense 1 broadly : any of several leguminous herbs (such as bird's-foot trefoil) with leaves that have or appear to have three leaflets
b : a trifoliolate leaf
2 : an ornament or symbol in the form of a stylized trifoliolate leaf

Illustration of trefoil

Illustration of trefoil

trefoil 2

Examples of trefoil in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Among them: the rose window, the trefoil arch, as well as sophisticated dome construction and stained glass fabrication techniques — not to mention the minaret, which was likely repurposed as a bell tower by Christians. Los Angeles Times, 5 June 2021 Earlier this year, Irvine’s team used water displacing objects called hydrofoils, created through 3-D printing, to fashion a trefoil knot out of a water vortex—the first vortex knot ever created in the lab. Natalie Wolchover, Scientific American, 11 Dec. 2013 One element would be the simplest knot, called a trefoil, another a figure-eight knot, and so on—and none could transform into another. Natalie Wolchover, Scientific American, 11 Dec. 2013 The Adidas 3-stripe logo is featured along the sleeves and paired with a trefoil design for an extra burst of color. Ellen Mcalpine, CNN Underscored, 6 Oct. 2020 Wax current shrubs, prickly poppies, globe mallow, rare Graham’s tick-trefoil and the ubiquitous sunflowers sprout from seemingly inhospitable volcanic scree. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, 7 Aug. 2020 This kids’ take on the iconic Adidas trefoil logo cap is cool and practical, thanks to a brim that shields little eyes from the sun. Krystin Arneson, CNN Underscored, 8 July 2020 The three-crossing knot known as the trefoil is tricolorable. Quanta Magazine, 2 June 2020 The steel-and-cement trefoil exploding from the earth resembles the Capitol from the Hunger Games films. Amy Tara Koch,, 6 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trefoil.' 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 trefoil

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for trefoil

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin trifolium, from tri- + folium leaf — more at blade

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Time Traveler for trefoil

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The first known use of trefoil was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

14 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trefoil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for trefoil



English Language Learners Definition of trefoil

: a plant (such as a clover) that has three leaves on each stem
: a decorative object or design that is shaped like a leaf with three parts


tre·​foil | \ ˈtrē-ˌfȯil How to pronounce trefoil (audio) \

Kids Definition of trefoil

1 : a clover or related plant having leaves with three leaflets
2 : a fancy design with three leaflike parts

More from Merriam-Webster on trefoil

Nglish: Translation of trefoil for Spanish Speakers


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