Definition of trefoil in English:

trefoil

Line breaks: tref|oil
Pronunciation: /ˈtrɛfɔɪl
 
, ˈtriːfɔɪl
 
/

noun

1A small European plant of the pea family, with yellow flowers and three-lobed clover-like leaves.
  • Genera Trifolium and Lotus, family Leguminosae: several species, in particular the bird’s-foot trefoil
More example sentences
  • Her sea-pinks, meadow-sweet, hairbells, daisies, trefoils, orchids and clovers are all still there in a rich rug of purples, blues, pinks, yellows and creams.
  • Saint Patrick used a seamróg, called a trefoil or three-leaf clover, to illustrate the concept of the trinity to the people.
  • In its first year, the Buzz Project found that in fields containing margins of natural clovers and trefoils an average 1,850 bumble bees were found per hectare.
1.1A plant with three-lobed leaves that is similar or related to the trefoil.
More example sentences
  • It is sometimes called wild chervil; and also has the names honewort (used of the closely related C. canadensis in N. America) and trefoil (but this last is used of other plants also).
1.2An ornamental design of three rounded lobes like a clover leaf, used typically in architectural tracery: [as modifier]: trefoil windows
More example sentences
  • In addition, the top areas of the main windows are decorated with stone tracery describing trefoils, quatrefoils and Moorish arches.
  • Rather like the Venetians - the difference being that Venice went on evolving: its Byzantine ogees and trefoils made room for Palladio and all that.
  • At the tops of the windows, the artist has fun with the trefoils and quatrefoils, turning one into a black flower with yellow petals and another into a hovering cartoonlike form ringed by orange dots.
1.3A thing having three parts; a set of three: a trefoil of parachutes lowers the shuttle’s used rockets to Earth

Origin

Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French trifoil, from Latin trifolium, from tri- 'three' + folium 'leaf'.

Derivatives

trefoiled

adjective
More example sentences
  • The windows in the belfry have been restored and consist of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil over.
  • The west window of the aisle is modern and has two trefoiled lights with a pierced circle in the spandrel.
  • There is a squint on each side, with square heads on the east and trefoiled heads on the west.

Definition of trefoil in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day iconoclasm
Pronunciation: īˈkänəˌklazəm
noun
attacking or rejecting cherished beliefs or established values...