1 [fohld]
verb (used with object)
to bend (cloth, paper, etc.) over upon itself.
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.
to bring (the arms, hands, etc.) together in an intertwined or crossed manner; clasp; cross: He folded his arms on his chest.
to bend or wind (usually followed by about, round, etc.): to fold one's arms about a person's neck.
to bring (the wings) close to the body, as a bird on alighting.
to enclose; wrap; envelop: to fold something in paper.
to embrace or clasp; enfold: to fold someone in one's arms.
Cards. to place (one's cards) facedown so as to withdraw from the play.
Informal. to bring to an end; close up: The owner decided to fold the business and retire.
verb (used without object)
to be folded or be capable of folding: The doors fold back.
Cards. to place one's cards facedown so as to withdraw from the play.
Informal. to fail in business; be forced to close: The newspaper folded after 76 years.
Informal. to yield or give in: Dad folded and said we could go after all.
a part that is folded; pleat; layer: folds of cloth.
a crease made by folding: He cut the paper along the fold.
a hollow made by folding: to carry something in the fold of one's dress.
a hollow place in undulating ground: a fold of the mountains.
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).
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.
a coil of a serpent, string, etc.
the act of folding or doubling over.
Anatomy. a margin or ridge formed by the folding of a membrane or other flat body part; plica.
Verb phrases
fold in, Cookery. to mix in or add (an ingredient) by gently turning one part over another: Fold in the egg whites.
fold up, Informal.
to break down; collapse: He folded up when the prosecutor discredited his story.
to fail, especially to go out of business.

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

foldable, adjective Unabridged


2 [fohld]
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.

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


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.

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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
fold1 (fəʊld)
vb (foll by in) (usually foll by round, about, etc) (often foll by up)
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
3.  (tr) (of birds, insects, etc) to close (the wings) together from an extended position
4.  (tr; often foll by up or in) to enclose in or as if in a surrounding material
5.  to clasp (a person) in the arms
6.  to wind (around); entwine
7.  poetic (tr) to cover completely: night folded the earth
8.  (tr) Also: fold in to mix (a whisked mixture) with other ingredients by gently turning one part over the other with a spoon
9.  to produce a bend (in stratified rock) or (of stratified rock) to display a bend
10.  informal to collapse; fail: the business folded
11.  a piece or section that has been folded: a fold of cloth
12.  a mark, crease, or hollow made by folding
13.  a hollow in undulating terrain
14.  a bend in stratified rocks that results from movements within the earth's crust and produces such structures as anticlines and synclines
15.  anatomy another word for plica
16.  a coil, as in a rope, etc
17.  an act of folding
[Old English fealdan; related to Old Norse falda , Old High German faldan, Latin duplus double, Greek haploos simple]

fold2 (fəʊld)
1.  a.  a small enclosure or pen for sheep or other livestock, where they can be gathered
 b.  the sheep or other livestock gathered in such an enclosure
 c.  a flock of sheep
 d.  a herd of Highland cattle
2.  a church or the members of it
3.  any group or community sharing a way of life or holding the same values
4.  (tr) to gather or confine (sheep or other livestock) in a fold
[Old English falod; related to Old Saxon faled, Middle Dutch vaelt]

suffix forming adjectives, —suffix forming adverbs
having so many parts, being so many times as much or as many, or multiplied by so much or so many: threefold; three-hundredfold
[Old English -fald, -feald]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. faldan (Mercian), fealdan (W.Saxon), "to bend cloth back over itself," class VII strong verb (past tense feold, pp. fealden), from P.Gmc. *falthanan (cf. O.N. falda, M.L.G. volden, Ger. falten, Goth. falþan), from PIE *pel-to- (cf. Skt. putah "fold, pocket," Alb. pale "fold," M.Ir. alt "a
joint"), from base *pel- "to fold." The weak form developed from 15c. Sense of "to yield to pressure" is from late 14c. Related: Folded; folding. The noun meaning "a bend or ply in anything" is mid-13c., from the verb.

"pen or enclosure for sheep or other domestic animals," O.E. falæd, falud, a Gmc. word (cf. E.Fris. folt "enclosure, dunghill," Dan. fold "pen for sheep"), of uncertain origin.

multiplicative suffix, from O.E. -feald, related to O.N. -faldr; Ger. -falt; Goth. falþs; Gk. -paltos, -plos; L. -plus. Crowded out in Eng. by Latinate double, triple, etc., but still in manifold (q.v.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

fold 1 (fōld)

  1. A crease or ridge apparently formed by folding, as of a membrane; a plica.

  2. 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.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
fold   (fōld)  Pronunciation Key 

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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 © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Fold definition

an enclosure for flocks to rest together (Isa. 13:20). Sheep-folds are mentioned Num. 32:16, 24, 36; 2 Sam. 7:8; Zeph. 2:6; John 10:1, etc. It was prophesied of the cities of Ammon (Ezek. 25:5), Aroer (Isa. 17:2), and Judaea, that they would be folds or couching-places for flocks. "Among the pots," of the Authorized Version (Ps. 68:13), is rightly in the Revised Version, "among the sheepfolds."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with fold, also see return to the fold.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Fold and double seal edges of foil so the steam doesn't escape the packets.
Fold the sides of the leaves over the fish, then roll to enclose.
Fold gelatin mixture into stiffly beaten egg whites.
Lift one edge of the cookie and fold it so the cookie forms a semicircle.
Idioms & Phrases
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