Origin of fold

before 900; (v.) Middle English folden, falden, Old English faldan; cognate with G. falten; (v.) Middle English fald, derivative of the n.; akin to Latin plicāre to fold, plectere to plait, twine, Greek plékein; cf. -fold
Related formsfold·a·ble, adjective




an enclosure for sheep or, occasionally, other domestic animals.
the sheep kept within it.
a flock of sheep.
a church.
the members of a church; congregation: He preached to the fold.
a group sharing common beliefs, values, etc.: He rejoined the fold after his youthful escapade.

verb (used with object)

to confine (sheep or other domestic animals) in a fold.

Origin of fold

before 900; Middle English fold, fald, Old English fald, falod; akin to Old Saxon faled pen, enclosure, Middle Low German vālt pen, enclosure, manure heap, Middle Dutch vaelt, vaelde
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for folding

Contemporary Examples of folding

Historical Examples of folding

  • Into the little parlor filed the nurses, and knelt, folding their tired hands.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • She went to the desk and scratched a line, and folding it, handed it to him.

  • So one man went back for a folding boat while the other camped by the stream.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • The folding doors of the chapter-house were opened easily, and they entered.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • Back he flew and, folding his wings, slipped into the window.

    Classic Myths

    Mary Catherine Judd

British Dictionary definitions for folding




to bend or be bent double so that one part covers anotherto fold a sheet of paper
(tr) to bring together and intertwine (the arms, legs, etc)she folded her hands
(tr) (of birds, insects, etc) to close (the wings) together from an extended position
(tr; often foll by up or in) to enclose in or as if in a surrounding material
(tr foll by in) to clasp (a person) in the arms
(tr usually foll by round, about, etc) to wind (around); entwine
(tr) poetic to cover completelynight folded the earth
Also: fold in (tr) to mix (a whisked mixture) with other ingredients by gently turning one part over the other with a spoon
to produce a bend (in stratified rock) or (of stratified rock) to display a bend
(intr often foll by up) informal to collapse; failthe business folded


a piece or section that has been foldeda fold of cloth
a mark, crease, or hollow made by folding
a hollow in undulating terrain
a bend in stratified rocks that results from movements within the earth's crust and produces such structures as anticlines and synclines
anatomy another word for plica (def. 1)
a coil, as in a rope, etc
an act of folding
See also fold up
Derived Formsfoldable, adjective

Word Origin for fold

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




  1. a small enclosure or pen for sheep or other livestock, where they can be gathered
  2. the sheep or other livestock gathered in such an enclosure
  3. a flock of sheep
  4. a herd of Highland cattle
a church or the members of it
any group or community sharing a way of life or holding the same values


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

Word Origin for fold

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

Word Origin and History for folding



Old English faldan (Mercian), fealdan (West Saxon), transitive, "to bend cloth back over itself," class VII strong verb (past tense feold, past participle fealden), from Proto-Germanic *falthan, *faldan (cf. Middle Dutch vouden, Dutch vouwen, Old Norse falda, Middle Low German volden, Old High German faldan, German falten, Gothic falþan).

The Germanic words are from PIE *pel-to- (cf. Sanskrit putah "fold, pocket," Albanian pale "fold," Middle Irish alt "a joint," Lithuanian pleta "I plait"), from root *pel- (3) "to fold" (cf. Greek ploos "fold," Latin -plus).

The weak form developed from 15c. In late Old English also of the arms. Intransitive sense, "become folded" is from c.1300 (of the body or limbs); earlier "give way, fail" (mid-13c.). Sense of "to yield to pressure" is from late 14c. Related: Folded; folding.



"pen or enclosure for sheep or other domestic animals," Old English falæd, falud "stall, stable, cattle-pen," a general Germanic word (cf. East Frisian folt "enclosure, dunghill," Dutch vaalt "dunghill," Danish fold "pen for sheep"), of uncertain origin. Figurative use by mid-14c.



"a bend or ply in anything," mid-13c., from fold (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

folding in Medicine




A crease or ridge apparently formed by folding, as of a membrane; a plica.
In the embryo, a transient elevation or reduplication of tissue in the form of a lamina.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

folding in Science



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.

Idioms and Phrases with folding


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.