- any of numerous plants belonging to the genus Trifolium, of the legume family, having usually digitate leaves of three leaflets and reddish, purple, yellow, or white flower heads, comprising the common clovers.
- any of various similar plants.
- Architecture. an ornament composed of three lobes, divided by cusps, radiating from a common center.
- such an ornamental figure used by the Girl Scouts as its official emblem.
- of, relating to, or shaped like a trefoil.
Origin of trefoil
1350–1400; Middle English < Anglo-French trifoil < Latin trifolium triple leaf, the three-leaved plant, clover, equivalent to tri- tri- + folium leaf
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for trefoil
Small windows have heads shaped in the ogee or trefoil forms.English Villages
P. H. Ditchfield
The trefoil ornament in the middle did not look the same as I recalled them.Highways in Hiding
George Oliver Smith
The tympanum of the large arch is pierced with a quatrefoil or trefoil.Scottish Cathedrals and Abbeys
Dugald Butler and Herbert Story
It had the form of a trefoil clover-leaf with a circle in the centre.The Life of Johannes Brahms (Vol 1 of 2)
This trefoil outline is all boarded, divided into panels, and painted.Brick and Marble in the Middle Ages
George Edmund Street
- any of numerous leguminous plants of the temperate genus Trifolium, having leaves divided into three leaflets and dense heads of small white, yellow, red, or purple flowers
- any of various related plants having leaves divided into three leaflets, such as bird's-foot trefoil
- a leaf having three leaflets
- architect an ornament in the form of three arcs arranged in a circle
C14: from Anglo-French trifoil, from Latin trifolium three-leaved herb, from tri- + folium 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
Word Origin and History for trefoil
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper