[tree-foil, tref-oil]
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, pertaining to, or shaped like a trefoil.

1350–1400; Middle English < Anglo-French trifoil < Latin trifolium triple leaf, the three-leaved plant, clover, equivalent to tri- tri- + folium leaf Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
trefoil (ˈtrɛfɔɪl)
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
[C14: from Anglo-French trifoil, from Latin trifolium three-leaved herb, from tri- + folium leaf]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1400, from Anglo-Fr. trifoil (c.1265), from O.Fr. trefeuil, from L. trifolium "three-leaved plant," from tri- "three" + folium "leaf" (see folio).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
So he juxtaposed cherry blossoms with a universal icon: the radiation hazard trefoil.
Image for trefoil
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