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

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.

Origin

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

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