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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for leafless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In the front garden a big plane tree stirred its leafless branches; the tree and figures interpenetrated.

    The Bright Messenger Algernon Blackwood
  • The wind blew strongly, and soughed in the stiff and leafless boughs.

    A Son of Hagar Sir Hall Caine
  • Were I to take a turn in the country the trees would present a leafless wintery appearance.

  • There's beauty in the leafless trees that you cannot see in summer.

    The Wide, Wide World Susan Warner
  • In a corner at the left three leafless trees reared their bare black branches against the sky.

    Germinie Lacerteux Edmond and Jules de Goncourt
  • The leafless branches in the atrium below them rattled in the wind.

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

    Things as They Are Amy Wilson-Carmichael
  • Fading away as in the movies, half the trees became bare and leafless.

    The Crystal Ball Roy J. Snell
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.



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.


"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.

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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leafless in the Bible

of a tree. The olive-leaf mentioned Gen. 8:11. The barren fig-tree had nothing but leaves (Matt. 21:19; Mark 11:13). The oak-leaf is mentioned Isa. 1:30; 6:13. There are numerous allusions to leaves, their flourishing, their decay, and their restoration (Lev. 26:36; Isa. 34:4; Jer. 8:13; Dan. 4:12, 14, 21; Mark 11:13; 13:28). The fresh leaf is a symbol of prosperity (Ps. 1:3; Jer. 17:8; Ezek. 47:12); the faded, of decay (Job 13:25; Isa. 1:30; 64:6; Jer. 8:13). Leaf of a door (1 Kings 6:34), the valve of a folding door. Leaf of a book (Jer. 36:23), perhaps a fold of a roll.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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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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