Turn Over a New Leaf – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Let’s break down another English idiom and examine one of our more charming phrases: turn over a new leaf. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and it has nothing to do with beautiful trees or autumn walks to collect dead leaves. This expression is a profound message about change and personal growth. Buckle up; it’s time for a crash course!

Meaning of Turning Over a New Leaf

Turn Over a New Leaf Idiom Origin Meaning

Life is all about change, and this phrase captures the essence of it. When someone says they’re going to turn over a new leaf, they’re not heading out to rake the garden.

But they’re actually speaking metaphorically about making a fresh start or changing their behavior for the better. It’s a hopeful phrase, full of optimism about future possibilities.

Origin and Etymology Behind Turning a New Leaf

To trace the phrase’s roots, we’ll need to leaf through history’s pages—quite literally. The phrase came out of the 16th century when leaf was a common term for a page in a book. Think of buying school supplies and how a pack of lined paper was called loose-leaf paper.

So, to turn over a new leaf initially meant to flip to a fresh, unwritten page, which is supposed to be symbolic of a clean start or a chance to write a new story. Sounds inspiring, right? It should!

Different Tenses to Use

The beauty of this phrase is its versatility across different tenses. Whether you’ve turned over a new leaf in the past, you’re turning over a new leaf now, or someone habitually turns over a new leaf, the phrase maintains its powerful message.

  • Present Tense: Turn over a new leaf
  • Present Participle: Turning over a new leaf
  • Past Tense: Turned over a new leaf

Synonyms for Turn Over a New Leaf

In the world of idioms, many other phrases express similar points that have a more literal connotation.

Turning Over a New Leaf Examples in a Sentence

Turn Over a New Leaf Idiom Origin Meaning 1

To fully appreciate the beauty of this phrase, let’s see how you can slip it into a full sentence.

  • After years of reckless spending, Corey turned over a new leaf and finally began saving money for his future.
  • The author is turning over a new leaf by focusing on her mental health and only writing one book per year.
  • I spent years writing contemporary romance, but now I’m turning over a new leaf and exploring fantasy romance.
  • Our company turns over a new leaf every quarter by adopting innovative strategies to tackle world problems.
  • My father pledged to turn over a new leaf and break his overeating habit.
  • Every New Year’s Eve, I plan to turn over a new leaf and make goals for self-improvement, but it doesn’t always work out.

Turn the Page

And so, we turn the final leaf on understanding this uplifting expression. To turn over a new leaf is all about the transformation and renewal that are inherent in human nature. It serves as a beautiful reminder that no matter what, there’s always an opportunity to start afresh.