tre·​foil | \ ˈtrē-ˌfȯi(-ə)l , ˈtre- \

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

Stylebeat discusses quatrefoil and trefoil motifs and shares some favorite finds from the High Point market. House Beautiful, "What We're Reading This Week," 8 Apr. 2012 These sights, sounds and smells informed the imagery found in her jewelry: swords, shields, amulets and trefoils. Nancy Bilyeau, WSJ, "Medieval Chic: Retro Fashion That’s Actually Beautiful," 21 Sep. 2017 The latest inexplicable fad has young teens building collections of the palm-sized trefoils. Susan Steade, The Mercury News, "Those fidget toys: What’s next in the annoying trend?," 11 May 2017 A four-leaf clover, on the other hand, is a mutation of the trefoil plant that superstitious people believe carries good luck. Scott Christian, Esquire, "Trump Hilariously Botched His St. Patrick's Day MAGA Hats," 10 Mar. 2017 By the 1930s, as enrollment soared to more than 200,000 members (up from a mere 18 in 1912), the organization regularly issued tools such as pocket knives, first-aid kits, match safes, and canteens emblazoned with their trefoil logo. Caroline Collins Mckenzie, Country Living, "The Collector's Guide to Girl Scouts Memorabilia," 31 Jan. 2017

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

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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 \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trefoil

Nglish: Translation of trefoil for Spanish Speakers

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