Definition of fig leaf in US English:

fig leaf


  • 1A leaf of a fig tree, often depicted as concealing the genitals in paintings and sculpture.

    • ‘Wearing just a fig leaf and a pair of tights to hide his modesty, Brian put on his special one-man show to help make up for the disappointment club members had when their outing to Abbey House Gardens, near Malmesbury, was hit by rain.’
    • ‘This was not the mythical Pan, half-man and half-goat, but a mature human male whose nudity was compromised only by the prominent fig leaf covering his genitals.’
    • ‘I can see the appeal of the fig leaf for Adam and Eve, when choosing a leaf as an outfit.’
    • ‘The play on mold and casting was built into the Female Fig Leaf itself, for it could be viewed either as a mold to make castings that reveal a female's private parts or as a casting to be used as a fig leaf to conceal a female's private parts.’
    • ‘The young woman, whose speech and behavior reek of defiance bordering on dementia, disapproves of the puritanism that placed a plaster fig leaf over the genitals of a statue of God.’
    • ‘More sympathetic observers like Peter Kolb suggested that as a natural fig leaf it modestly concealed the female genitals.’
    • ‘David Suzuki, the environmentalist who stripped down to a fig leaf to promote his television show, tells natives they should not build casinos to make money and encourages them to stick to traditional activities like carving coffins.’
    1. 1.1 A thing designed to conceal a difficulty or embarrassment.
      ‘the amendment was just a fig leaf designed to cover the cracks in the party’
      • ‘They are a political fig leaf to cover the government's embarrassment over that.’
      • ‘But that was a mere fig leaf of plausible denial.’
      • ‘Authoritarianism, barely concealed under the fig leaf of ‘democracy’, became its watchword.’
      • ‘It's a fig leaf - so tiny that it simply attracts attention to the problem rather than doing anything to solve it.’
      • ‘This is merely a fig leaf to cover up its ruthless attempts to preserve the ability to extract huge profits from those artists.’


Early 16th century: with reference to the story of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:7).


fig leaf

/ˈfɪɡ ˌlif//ˈfiɡ ˌlēf/