Definition of leaf in English:

leaf

noun

  • 1A flattened structure of a higher plant, typically green and blade-like, that is attached to a stem directly or via a stalk. Leaves are the main organs of photosynthesis and transpiration.

    ‘many of the trees had lost their leaves’
    ‘bay leaves’
    ‘an oak leaf’
    • ‘It has three curved green leaves on each stem, with a large purple blossom in the middle.’
    • ‘Both have stems, leaves, and reproductive structures, but they look very different.’
    • ‘The stems and large leaves on the stalk combine almost musically to enhance the richness of the composition.’
    • ‘Shoots of M. micrantha were separated into stems, leaves, and reproductive organs.’
    • ‘The female Thrypticus deposits an egg in a water-hyacinth petiole - the stalk that attaches the leaf to the stem.’
    • ‘I want to put white lights around their trunks and red lights along the main stem of the leaves.’
    • ‘Plants were analysed by measuring the excised leaves of the main shoot.’
    • ‘About two hours later, the yard had almost become a pond, with the green leaves of the plants shining in the rain.’
    • ‘This also gives the best possible area exposed to falling rain so the rain is directed back along the leaf and down the stem to the roots.’
    • ‘It makes a decorative house or garden plant with long green leaves and a spectacular flower.’
    • ‘Roselle is a woody annual, with green leaves on stems which are usually red.’
    • ‘Individual plant shoots from each category were separated into stem, leaves, and crown.’
    • ‘But coca is a very resilient plant, and fresh green leaves are already sprouting from stalks fumigated a few months ago.’
    • ‘First check the field for the presence or absence of spider mites on individual green leaves on a corn plant.’
    • ‘The egg-sacs are deposited in twisted leaves or may be directly attached to a leaf.’
    • ‘Then the other way is called transpiration, or water lost primarily from the leaves and stems of the plants.’
    • ‘There is no green, but leaves of the plants around that area are yellow.’
    • ‘There were plants with long green leaves in every corner and the curtains were of gold silk.’
    • ‘Plants were dissected into leaves, stems with petioles, and inflorescences.’
    • ‘Only the tender green leaves growing off the stems are really palatable, so this type of cress requires a bit of prep work.’
    1. 1.1 Any of a number of plant structures similar to leaves, e.g. bracts, sepals, and petals.
    2. 1.2mass noun Foliage regarded collectively.
      • ‘To provide a backdrop to this foliage-ruled leafscape, use climbers to link together canopies of leaf.’
      • ‘She kept her eyes straight ahead as she flew over the rest of the clearing and then into a dense forest, her bare feet racing and leaping over stone and leaf.’
      • ‘Providing you prepare the soil well, and top dress every year with more compost, you can plant climbers quite densely, two or three feet apart, for a wealth of leaf, colour and scent.’
    3. 1.3mass noun The state of having leaves.
      ‘the trees are still in leaf’
      • ‘They enjoy a well-drained soil and will stay in leaf until about May, when they die down and lie dormant until the following autumn.’
      • ‘It's a wonderful tree, the only drawback being that it comes into leaf long after most other garden plants, in late spring to early summer.’
      • ‘Lilies are better planted in the autumn as they come into leaf very early in the spring.’
      • ‘Groups of bulbs such as daffodils that have become overcrowded and have stopped flowering can be dug up and split whilst in leaf.’
      • ‘And our interest does not stop when the saplings go into leaf.’
      • ‘Outside now that the trees planted last year have started coming into leaf the area is taking on a plaza look.’
      • ‘In fact every tree and shrub in the garden is in bud at least, and some are coming into leaf.’
      • ‘Lift bedded out begonias while still in leaf; put them in boxes in a dry shed or greenhouse to dry out and die back gradually.’
      • ‘It is early spring, since the trees are just coming into leaf, and the low grass is still yellowish.’
      • ‘The oak tree is being more cautious, of course, and will wait a while yet before venturing into leaf.’
      • ‘He wanted to see the trees in his garden coming into leaf.’
      • ‘It could be that the oak tree will be a clue when it's in leaf.’
      • ‘Normally elder would come into leaf in late February or March, and into blossom in late April or May.’
      • ‘It is one of the first trees in the arboretum to come into leaf and flowers prolifically with large creamy/pink blossoms in spring.’
      • ‘Many said they believe that it's unnecessary to drastically prune trees in the summer just as they come into leaf.’
      • ‘For all that it is still March, only a couple of days past the solstice, and few trees are yet in leaf, today could have been a summer's day.’
      • ‘The bare branches of deciduous trees don't muffle noises like they do when they're in leaf.’
      • ‘Trees on the opposite bank were bursting into leaf, although the sun was defiantly not shining.’
      • ‘This, I notice, has come into leaf which could be an indication that roots have formed.’
      • ‘Lift, divide and spread out winter aconites while still in leaf.’
    4. 1.4mass noun The leaves of tobacco or tea.
      as modifier ‘leaf tea’
      • ‘This type of smokeless tobacco comes in loose leaf, plugs or twists.’
      • ‘Richard and Liz say customers comment on the excellent waitress service, quality menu items, and traditional touches such as leaf tea served with a teapot and strainer.’
      • ‘I took the raspberry leaf tea with milk from Neville's nanny, but no sugar as it made me restless.’
      • ‘Although they both carry the taste of the ornage bitterness of the Bergamot, the tea from the whole leaf brew holds on to the tongue far longer.’
      • ‘Eighty rupees a kilo for long leaf tea was an unquestionable bargain.’
      • ‘The tiny tobacconist shop was dark and reeked pleasantly of exotic leaf.’
      • ‘Was there actual evidence from your client that the tobacco leaf was cut in order to enable it to fit into bags for easy transportation?’
      • ‘Bill, who spends the rest of the year running a herd of pedigree Welsh Black cattle at Trefawr Farm, Llanfyrnach, confided that loose leaf tea was the secret of a good cuppa.’
      • ‘In other words, tobacco used to be a herbal medicine but public experimentation led to the smoking of the tobacco leaf.’
      • ‘Indeed, so smitten is she by alternative therapies that there were reports during the summer of a mercy dash across the country so that she did not have to go without her strawberry leaf tea.’
      • ‘But if you have a place in your town that sells loose leaf teas, you really need to head down that path.’
      • ‘The price of tobacco was high, the purchaser getting enough leaf to balance the silver coins placed on the other pan of the scales.’
      • ‘So I got some tobacco leaf, mixed it with water and gave it to the baby.’
      • ‘Without playing the ‘Elitist Snob’ card too severely, let me just say this: Buy loose leaf tea.’
      • ‘They are whole leaf, natural teas.’
      • ‘Tobacco, or some stronger leaf, smoulders in the ashtray.’
      • ‘The houseboy brings in raspberry leaf tea, and we talk about everything from sex to finances to communication.’
      • ‘Our tea sales have continued to grow, even our loose leaf tea.’
      • ‘It is topped off with clove scented apple jelly together with steaming cups of leaf tea brewed from the kettle ever boiling on the hob.’
      • ‘They look like a giant teabag with the leaves missing: a mass of stretchy, white tissue with thousands of perforations.’
  • 2A thing that resembles a leaf in being flat and thin.

    • ‘Flat, thin leaves of horn were translucent and used for windowpanes in place of glass.’
    1. 2.1 A single thickness of paper, especially in a book with each side forming a page.
      • ‘It works like a book whose leaves have remained uncut - you press down in the middle and the pages come to lie besides each other.’
      • ‘A single leaf surviving in manuscript used to be thought to be a forgery, but is now considered a genuine contemporary copy of part of one scene.’
      • ‘There stood my ‘sister’, and a small box containing a single leaf of paper.’
      • ‘A leaf of paper tumbled out, folded into a tight square.’
      • ‘He went over to her and took the book from her hand; still keeping the page he then marked the page with a small leaf of paper.’
      • ‘‘That is an incredible price and it is about 10 times more than any Beethoven sketch leaf has ever gone for,’ he said.’
      • ‘They wrote down all their ideas on a fresh leaf of white lined paper and soon filled up both sides of it.’
      • ‘Anne replied on another leaf: ‘By daily proof you shall me find / To be to you both loving and kind.’’
      • ‘Against a delicate leaf of paper, the sound of a rapidograph is as raw as the line it produces.’
      • ‘She pulled it out of her book case and turned the leaves to the page around October of that year.’
      • ‘Thus, at an etymological level, leaves and paper, and leaves and books are deeply connected.’
      • ‘It prints off a leaf of paper and spits it at the man in the lab coat.’
      • ‘I took out the loose leaf of paper that had my Kitten drawing on it.’
      • ‘So that he's working on the second gathering, the second four pages, the second leaf, while they are already preparing the parts for the incomplete cantata.’
      • ‘With stifled sobs, she unfolded the single leaf of paper from within and began to read the rigid, soldier-like writing.’
      page, sheet, folio, flyleaf
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2mass noun, with modifier Gold, silver, or other specified metal in the form of very thin foil.
      ‘gold leaf’
      • ‘Gold leaf frames are also a standard for the company.’
      • ‘Gold leaf was applied to the background and his tunic, and perhaps the wreath in his hair, after the panel was placed on the mummy.’
      • ‘The stacks were then hammered until the gold had spread sufficiently to make a thin foil or leaf.’
      • ‘Malleable, silver may be beaten into a leaf 0.00025 millimeters thin.’
      • ‘Gold leaf has been applied to the clock's numerals.’
      • ‘Gold leaf is carefully rubbed onto the lightly glued surface around the tempera and the entire object is then varnished with a gloss finish.’
      • ‘In the early 1970s very thin leaf gold was skillfully implanted on rhodochrosite to make spectacular faked specimens.’
      • ‘Gold leaf used in gilding is made in much the same way.’
      • ‘To transfer the leaf to the adhesive, use the sheets of tissue that come with the metal leaf, or use waxed paper pieces.’
      • ‘Aziz didn't need to ask to know that the gold was not leaf, but real gold, most likely twenty-four karats.’
      • ‘Within the cradle of the metal leaf covering was an array of multi-colored lights, each panel serving a different purpose.’
      • ‘Sometimes metallic coatings are applied, e.g. in the form of leaf silver.’
      • ‘Knapp decorated the sliding hatch in the dining room with gold, silver, and copper leaf on enamel, replacing an earlier plain copper sheet.’
      • ‘Gold leaf was then used to enrich the surfaces of paintings, sculptures, buildings, pottery and manuscripts.’
      • ‘Tiny bits of metal leaf come together like a textured, variegated sheet on craft projects.’
      • ‘Twelve pence worth of leaf gold was an expensive amount.’
      • ‘On top of this sheet, smooth down a sheet of metal leaf.’
      • ‘He recently began to put gold and silver metal leaf under the paint, and he uses a hand-rubbing technique to create a soft, antiqued look.’
      • ‘The delicate delineations of each square of metal leaf create subtle patterns.’
    3. 2.3 The hinged part or flap of a door, shutter, or table.
      • ‘Take the old hinge screw or the hinge leaf with you to the store to make sure the new screw is the right size for your hinge.’
      • ‘A large solitary crane takes off to the left, subtly guiding the eye towards the missing leaf of the double door or shutter where the seascape doubtless continued.’
      • ‘You could have a table that folds down from the wall or even a table with leaves, and throw a dinner party for four in the space the bed would be taking up.’
      • ‘Place the hinge leaf in the mortise and position the self-centering tool in the countersink recesses of the hinge.’
    4. 2.4 An extra section inserted to extend a table.
      • ‘Clear the writing items off the desk, take out the leaf in the table, hide the telephone and get rid of the porcelain figurines!’
      • ‘They are a little like the leaves of a dining table that can be used to make it longer.’
    5. 2.5 The inner or outer part of a cavity wall or double-glazed window.
      • ‘Remove the outer brick leaf to damp proof course level and rebuild the walling, ensuring the wall ties are inserted in the correct positions.’
      • ‘In consequence, the tiling could not be nailed at every course and relied solely on the mortar bedding to the outer leaf of brickwork.’

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1(of a plant, especially a deciduous one in spring) put out new leaves.

    ‘many plants need a period of dormancy before they leaf and flower’
    • ‘The eggs were not laid until the last week of April, as the weather warmed up, serviceberry bloomed, and maples, poplars, birches, and beeches were leafing out.’
    • ‘The dates of observation were 17-19 May 1998, during which the weather was dry with average spring temperatures and the tree canopy had not leafed out.’
    • ‘Once it leafs out it is a wonderful privacy screen.’
    • ‘Ash trees were leafing up, the hedges were thick.’
    • ‘Each plant emerges from an underground rhizome in the spring before the tree canopy leafs out.’
    • ‘There is a downside to leaving it a while, the trees will have leafed up and you won't see so far, but I would wait.’
    • ‘You can transplant existing shrubs and perennial plants before they begin to leaf out.’
    • ‘Most trees are leafing out already; some have made significant progress.’
    • ‘But if you prune back hard or after the tree leafs out in spring, it may be slower to come into bloom that year.’
    • ‘You can transplant in the spring up until the plants leaf out.’
    • ‘The ancient olive trees, budding once more and leafing, feel a bit foolish; how much more absurd is the staff of legends that, stuck in the ground, blossoms.’
    put out leaves, bud, burst into leaves
    View synonyms
  • 2leaf throughTurn over (the pages of a book or the papers in a pile), reading them quickly or casually.

    ‘he leafed through the stack of notes’
    • ‘Stretched out next to the sofa was Julie, leafing lazily through a magazine.’
    • ‘And, besides, it seems to impress the most attractive men on train journeys when you leaf through the pages of such highbrow reading matter and display interest in more than just the pictures.’
    • ‘So I did what Pa asked, and leafed through the book, its pages heavy and dusty, well-inscribed and made to last for centuries.’
    • ‘How about having a cup of freshly brewed coffee while leafing through pages of an interesting book?’
    • ‘You can turn the pages as though leafing through the book.’
    • ‘Either study abroad or leaf through the books of some great photographers in the world.’
    • ‘But anyway, she pulled out my folder and began leafing through the papers inside.’
    • ‘I reached for a poetry book and sat quietly for a while, leafing through the pages.’
    • ‘I let him leaf through the first few pages before I spoke up again.’
    • ‘I noticed that he was leafing through some folders on his desk, and I was struck by a question.’
    • ‘I leafed through the stack in my hand.’
    • ‘He leafed through a stack of letters, splitting them into bills and correspondence.’
    • ‘He was leafing through folders of paper, taking notes on a large yellow pad.’
    • ‘I sat on the cot and leafed through a magazine, shivering silently.’
    • ‘Next to that is another device - a page turner that automatically leafs through any book placed on a raised platform, operated at the touch of a button.’
    • ‘I've only leafed through a copy, and read the first chapter.’
    • ‘"All right then, " said the magistrate, leafing through some papers.’
    • ‘As she leafs through the yellow pages, my eyes try in vain to grab a word or two from the looped, fastidious handwriting.’
    • ‘He approached it on tip toes, leafing through a pile of papers on the surface.’
    • ‘Picking one at random, he leafed idly through it as he let his mind work.’
    flick, flip, thumb, skim, browse, glance, look, riffle
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • shake (or tremble) like a leaf

    • (of a person) tremble greatly, especially from fear.

      • ‘‘I mean, I was shaking like a leaf,’ she confesses.’
      • ‘He opened the cellar door and slipped inside in a whisper, shut the door and locked it, and stood there trembling like a leaf.’
      • ‘Absolutely terrified and trembling like a leaf, I sat down and played for him.’
      • ‘Roger was the last to cross and his knees shook like a leaf.’
      • ‘I was shaking like a leaf, and she told me to ring the police.’
      • ‘Just thinking about it makes me shake like a leaf.’
      • ‘She breathes heavily and, although trembling like a leaf from the shock, she succeeds in untying herself.’
      • ‘I was really shaking like a leaf when we first showed it.’
      • ‘I was shaking like a leaf on the first tee, as nervous standing over the ball as I had ever been in my life.’
      • ‘Looking at her, she seemed to know exactly what he was talking about as soon as she caught sight of Scarlett, who was trembling like a leaf by now at having so many people looking at her.’

Origin

Old English lēaf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch loof and German Laub.

Pronunciation

leaf

/liːf/