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trefoil

[tree-foil, tref-oil] /ˈtri fɔɪl, ˈtrɛf ɔɪl/
noun
1.
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.
2.
any of various similar plants.
3.
Architecture. an ornament composed of three lobes, divided by cusps, radiating from a common center.
4.
such an ornamental figure used by the Girl Scouts as its official emblem.
adjective
5.
of, pertaining to, or shaped like a trefoil.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English < Anglo-French trifoil < Latin trifolium triple leaf, the three-leaved plant, clover, equivalent to tri- tri- + folium leaf
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for trefoil
  • So he juxtaposed cherry blossoms with a universal icon: the radiation hazard trefoil.
British Dictionary definitions for trefoil

trefoil

/ˈtrɛfɔɪl/
noun
1.
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
2.
any of various related plants having leaves divided into three leaflets, such as bird's-foot trefoil
3.
a leaf having three leaflets
4.
(architect) an ornament in the form of three arcs arranged in a circle
Derived Forms
trefoiled, adjective
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for trefoil
n.

c.1400, from Anglo-French trifoil (c.1265), from Old French trefeuil, from Latin trifolium "three-leaved plant," from tri- "three" (see tri-) + folium "leaf" (see folio).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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