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[singk-foil] /ˈsɪŋkˌfɔɪl/
any of several plants belonging to the genus Potentilla, of the rose family, having yellow, red, or white five-petaled flowers, as P. reptans (creeping cinquefoil) of the Old World, or P. argentea (silvery cinquefoil) of North America.
Also called quinquefoil, quintefoil. Architecture. a panellike ornament consisting of five lobes, divided by cusps, radiating from a common center.
Heraldry. a charge in the form of a five-leaved clover.
Origin of cinquefoil
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English sink foil < Middle French cincfoille < Latin quīnque folia five leaves, translation of Greek pentáphyllon Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Contemporary Examples
  • In June, he writes, "The wind dies, bees hover outside the open tower windows, the cinquefoil blooms butter yellow in the meadow."

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British Dictionary definitions for cinquefoil


any plant of the N temperate rosaceous genus Potentilla, typically having five-lobed compound leaves
an ornamental carving in the form of five arcs arranged in a circle and separated by cusps
(heraldry) a charge representing a five-petalled flower
Word Origin
C13 sink foil, from Old French cincfoille, from Latin quinquefolium plant with five leaves, translating Greek pentaphullon from pente five + phullon leaf
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cinquefoil

from Latin quinquefolium, from quinque (see five) + folium (see folio).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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