[ fohld ]
See synonyms for: foldfoldedfoldingfolds on

verb (used with object)
  1. to bend (cloth, paper, etc.) over upon itself.

  2. to bring into a compact form by bending and laying parts together (often followed by up): to fold up a map; to fold one's legs under oneself.

  1. to bring (the arms, hands, etc.) together in an intertwined or crossed manner; cross; entwine: He folded his arms on his chest.

  2. to bend or wind (usually followed by about, round, etc.): to fold one's arms about a person's neck.

  3. to bring (the wings) close to the body, as a bird on alighting.

  4. to enclose; wrap; envelop: to fold something in paper.

  5. to embrace or clasp; enfold: to fold someone in one's arms.

  6. Cards. to place (one's cards) facedown so as to withdraw from the play.

  7. Informal. to bring to an end; close up: The owner decided to fold the business and retire.

verb (used without object)
  1. to be folded or be capable of folding: The doors fold back.

  2. Cards. to place one's cards facedown so as to withdraw from the play.

  1. Informal. to fail in business; be forced to close: The newspaper folded after 76 years.

  2. Informal. to yield or give in: Dad folded and said we could go after all.

  1. a part that is folded; pleat; layer: folds of cloth.

  2. a crease made by folding: He cut the paper along the fold.

  1. a hollow made by folding: to carry something in the fold of one's dress.

  2. a hollow place in undulating ground: a fold of the mountains.

  3. Geology. a portion of strata that is folded or bent, as an anticline or syncline, or that connects two horizontal or parallel portions of strata of different levels (as a monocline).

  4. Journalism.

    • the line formed along the horizontal center of a standard-sized newspaper when it is folded after printing.

    • a rough-and-ready dividing line, especially on the front page and other principal pages, between stories of primary and lesser importance.

  5. a coil of a serpent, string, etc.

  6. the act of folding or doubling over.

  7. Anatomy. a margin or ridge formed by the folding of a membrane or other flat body part; plica.

Verb Phrases
  1. fold in, Cooking. to mix in or add (an ingredient) by gently turning one part over another: Fold in the egg whites.

  2. fold up, Informal.

    • to break down; collapse: He folded up when the prosecutor discredited his story.

    • to fail, especially to go out of business.

Origin of fold

First recorded before 900; Middle English verb folden, falden, faulden, Old English fealdan, faldan; cognate with Gothic falthan, Old Norse falda, German falten; akin to Latin plicāre “to fold,” plectere to plait, twine,” Greek plékein “to braid, knit”; cf. plait; see origin at -fold

Other words from fold

  • fold·a·ble, adjective

Other definitions for fold (2 of 3)

[ fohld ]

  1. an enclosure for sheep or, occasionally, other domestic animals.

  2. the sheep kept within it.

  1. a flock of sheep.

  2. a church.

  3. the members of a church; congregation: He preached to the fold.

  4. a group sharing common beliefs, values, etc.: He rejoined the fold after his youthful escapade.

verb (used with object)
  1. to confine (sheep or other domestic animals) in a fold.

Origin of fold

First recorded before 900; Middle English fold, fald, feld “sheepfold,” Old English fald, falod, falud “sheepfold, ox stall, stable”; akin to Old Saxon faled “pen, enclosure,” Middle Low German vaalt “pen, enclosure, manure heap,” Middle Dutch vaelt, vaelde

Other definitions for -fold (3 of 3)


  1. a native English suffix meaning “of so many parts,” or denoting multiplication by the number indicated by the stem or word to which the suffix is attached: twofold; manifold.

Origin of -fold

Middle English; Old English -fald, -feald, cognate with Old Frisian, Old Saxon -fald,German -falt,Old Norse -faldr,Gothic -falths, all representing the Germanic base of fold1; akin to Greek -ploos, -plous (see haplo-, diplo-), Latin -plus (see simple, double, etc.), -plex-plex Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fold in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fold (1 of 3)


/ (fəʊld) /

  1. to bend or be bent double so that one part covers another: to fold a sheet of paper

  2. (tr) to bring together and intertwine (the arms, legs, etc): she folded her hands

  1. (tr) (of birds, insects, etc) to close (the wings) together from an extended position

  2. (tr; often foll by up or in) to enclose in or as if in a surrounding material

  3. (tr foll by in) to clasp (a person) in the arms

  4. (tr usually foll by round, about, etc) to wind (around); entwine

  5. (tr) poetic to cover completely: night folded the earth

  6. Also: fold in (tr) to mix (a whisked mixture) with other ingredients by gently turning one part over the other with a spoon

  7. to produce a bend (in stratified rock) or (of stratified rock) to display a bend

  8. (intr often foll by up) informal to collapse; fail: the business folded

  1. a piece or section that has been folded: a fold of cloth

  2. a mark, crease, or hollow made by folding

  1. a hollow in undulating terrain

  2. a bend in stratified rocks that results from movements within the earth's crust and produces such structures as anticlines and synclines

  3. anatomy another word for plica (def. 1)

  4. a coil, as in a rope, etc

  5. an act of folding

Origin of fold

Old English fealdan; related to Old Norse falda , Old High German faldan, Latin duplus double, Greek haploos simple

Derived forms of fold

  • foldable, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for fold (2 of 3)


/ (fəʊld) /

    • a small enclosure or pen for sheep or other livestock, where they can be gathered

    • the sheep or other livestock gathered in such an enclosure

    • a flock of sheep

    • a herd of Highland cattle

  1. a church or the members of it

  1. any group or community sharing a way of life or holding the same values

  1. (tr) to gather or confine (sheep or other livestock) in a fold

Origin of fold

Old English falod; related to Old Saxon faled, Middle Dutch vaelt

British Dictionary definitions for -fold (3 of 3)


suffix forming adjectives, suffix forming adverbs
  1. having so many parts, being so many times as much or as many, or multiplied by so much or so many: threefold; three-hundredfold

Origin of -fold

Old English -fald, -feald

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

Scientific definitions for fold


[ fōld ]

  1. A bend in a layer of rock or in another planar feature such as foliation or the cleavage of a mineral. Folds occur as the result of deformation, usually associated with plate-tectonic forces.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with fold


In addition to the idioms beginning with fold

  • fold one's tent
  • fold up

also see:

  • return to the fold

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.