Definition of fig leaf in English:

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fig leaf

Pronunciation: /ˈfiɡ ˌlēf/


1A leaf of a fig tree, often depicted as concealing the genitals in paintings and sculpture.
Example sentences
  • The young woman, whose speech and behavior reek of defiance bordering on dementia, disapproves of the puritanism that placed a plaster fig leaf over the genitals of a statue of God.
  • More sympathetic observers like Peter Kolb suggested that as a natural fig leaf it modestly concealed the female genitals.
  • This was not the mythical Pan, half-man and half-goat, but a mature human male whose nudity was compromised only by the prominent fig leaf covering his genitals.
1.1A thing designed to conceal a difficulty or embarrassment: the amendment was just a fig leaf designed to cover the cracks in the party
More example sentences
  • They are a political fig leaf to cover the government's embarrassment over that.
  • This is merely a fig leaf to cover up its ruthless attempts to preserve the ability to extract huge profits from those artists.
  • Authoritarianism, barely concealed under the fig leaf of ‘democracy’, became its watchword.


Early 16th century: with reference to the story of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:7).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: fig leaf

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