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[leef] /lif/
noun, plural leaves
[leevz] /livz/ (Show IPA)
one of the expanded, usually green organs borne by the stem of a plant.
any similar or corresponding lateral outgrowth of a stem.
a petal:
a rose leaf.
leaves collectively; foliage.
Bibliography. a unit generally comprising two printed, blank, or illustrated pages of a book, one on each side.
a thin sheet of metal:
silver leaf.
a lamina or layer.
a sliding, hinged, or detachable flat part, as of a door or tabletop.
a section of a drawbridge.
a single strip of metal in a leaf spring.
a tooth of a small gear wheel, as of a pinion.
Textiles. shaft (def 14).
verb (used without object)
to put forth leaves.
to turn pages, especially quickly (usually followed by through):
to leaf through a book.
verb (used with object)
to thumb or turn, as the pages of a book or magazine, in a casual or cursory inspection of the contents.
in leaf, covered with foliage; having leaves:
the pale green tint of the woods newly in leaf.
take a leaf out of / from someone's book, to follow someone's example; imitate:
Some countries that took a leaf out of American industry's book are now doing very well for themselves.
turn over a new leaf, to begin anew; make a fresh start:
Every New Year's we make resolutions to turn over a new leaf.
Origin of leaf
before 900; Middle English leef, lef, Old English lēaf; cognate with Dutch loof, German Laub, Old Norse lauf, Gothic laufs
Related forms
leafless, adjective
leaflike, adjective
unleaf, verb (used with object)
unleaflike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for leafless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Let the trees again be leafless; let the rivers flow no longer in their empty beds.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • At last we reach a tree partly unoccupied, but it is leafless, alas!

    Things as They Are Amy Wilson-Carmichael
  • Every leafless bough of yonder lofty elder-tree is thick with birds.

  • The wind blew strongly, and soughed in the stiff and leafless boughs.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • Even yet on the sheltered side there was a monthly rose or two on the leafless bushes.

    Mary Gray Katharine Tynan
  • They were between him and the leafless lilacs and mulberries that lined the street wall.

    Christmas Zona Gale
  • An elm overhangs it, and the lower boughs are dead and leafless.

    The Toilers of the Field Richard Jefferies
  • There's beauty in the leafless trees that you cannot see in summer.

    The Wide, Wide World Susan Warner
British Dictionary definitions for leafless


noun (pl) leaves (liːvz)
the main organ of photosynthesis and transpiration in higher plants, usually consisting of a flat green blade attached to the stem directly or by a stalk related adjectives foliar foliate
foliage collectively
in leaf, (of shrubs, trees, etc) having a full complement of foliage leaves
one of the sheets of paper in a book
a hinged, sliding, or detachable part, such as an extension to a table
metal in the form of a very thin flexible sheet: gold leaf
a foil or thin strip of metal in a composite material; lamina
short for leaf spring
the inner or outer wall of a cavity wall
a crop that is harvested in the form of leaves
a metal strip forming one of the laminations in a leaf spring
a slang word for marijuana
take a leaf out of someone's book, take a leaf from someone's book, to imitate someone, esp in one particular course of action
turn over a new leaf, to begin a new and improved course of behaviour
when intr, usually foll by through. to turn (through pages, sheets, etc) cursorily
(intransitive) (of plants) to produce leaves
Derived Forms
leafless, adjective
leaflessness, noun
leaflike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English; related to Gothic laufs, Icelandic lauf
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 leafless

1580s, from leaf (n.) + -less.



"to turn over (the pages of a book)," 1660s, from leaf (n.). The notion of a book page also is in the phrase to turn over a (new) leaf (1570s). Related: Leafed; leaved; leafing.



Old English leaf "leaf of a plant; page of a book," from Proto-Germanic *laubaz (cf. Old Saxon lof, Old Norse lauf, Old Frisian laf, Dutch loof, Old High German loub, German Laub "foliage, leaves," Gothic lauf), perhaps from PIE *leup- "to peel off, break off" (cf. Lithuanian luobas, Old Church Slavonic lubu "bark, rind"). Extended 15c. to very thin sheets of metal (especially gold). Meaning "hinged flap on the side of a table" is from 1550s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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leafless in Science

An appendage growing from the stem of a plant. Leaves are extremely variable in form and function according to species. For example, the needles of pine trees, the spines of cacti, and the bright red parts of the poinsettia plant are all leaves modified for different purposes. However, most leaves are flat and green and adapted to capturing sunlight and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. They consist of an outer tissue layer (the epidermis) through which water and gases are exchanged, a spongy inner layer of cells that contain chloroplasts, and veins that supply water and minerals and carry out food. Some leaves are simple, while others are compound, consisting of multiple leaflets. The flat part of the leaf, the blade, is often attached to the stem by a leafstalk.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with leafless


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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