The term “fig leaf” can have a literal meaning, but it can also be used in a figurative sense as an idiom. This may be why you didn’t understand the term if it was used oddly and seemed out of context. Here you will find the meaning of this phrase when used as an idiom, information about the origin of the term as an idiom, some example sentences and conversations using the term figuratively, and some alternative words or phrases that you can use in conversation to replace this phrase.
Fig Leaf Meaning
The term “fig leaf,” when used as a figure of speech or an idiom, means something that is used to cover up an act or an object that is an embarrassment to someone.
Origin of this idiom
The phrase “fig leaf” has been used for years and it comes from the Bible. When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, they were naked. Once they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they realized they were naked. They took fig leaves to hide their private parts because they were embarrassed to be seen naked. This is how the term “fig leaf” began to be used metaphorically to mean any object or act of embarrassment that needed to be covered up so no one would see.
“Fig Leaf” Examples
- The picture acted as a fig leaf to cover the big hole in the wall that had not been repaired yet.
- Using a fig leaf to cover up problems that require a bigger fix can create an even larger problem.
- This deal is little more than a fig leaf for the continued destruction of the landscape.
- Their new constitution was a fig leaf to conceal their betrayal of the masses.
- He walked ahead while the snails followed, pulling the fig leaf with the frog upon it.
A discussion between mother and daughter.
- Daughter: Mom, can I borrow some makeup?
- Mother: For what?
- Daughter: To cover up this huge zit on my forehead. It’s picture day.
- Mother: Yes, you may borrow some. Honestly, though, zits happen to everyone and you shouldn’t use makeup as a fig leaf. Its nothing to be embarrassed about.
A discussion between two co-workers.
- Co-worker 1: I can’t believe that Kathy would resort to using a fig leaf to cover up her mistakes.
- Co-worker 2: I can! She simply didn’t want to be called out for errors and be embarrassed.
Alternatives to “Fig Leaf”
There are a few words that you could use alternatively that are synonymous with the phrase “fig leaf.” Some of the words or phrases you could use in place of this phrase include:
What Is “Fig Leaf”? | Image