It’s January and everyone seems to be turning over a new leaf. Here a leaf is like a page in a book, not a leaf like something that falls from the trees in the autumn. This is an empty page, a chance to start over, to begin anew. When we turn over a new leaf we try to do better, to be better than we were before.
Likewise, we can use leaf as a verb when talking about turning pages: to leaf through a book.
He leafed through the book quickly, trying to find the answer.
When you leaf through something, you turn the pages quickly, looking briefly at each page or even every couple of pages. You don’t read every page. You generally leaf through a book in the bookshop when deciding whether or not to buy it.
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I haven’t posted here for the last few weeks and I’ve been pretty absent on social media too. (It’s ok if you didn’t notice!) That’s because I was on vacation! However, to the outside world, it might have looked like I fell off the face of the Earth. When you say this about someone, you imply that you haven’t seen or heard from them in a long time. They have, essentially, disappeared, or they are not making contact. It sounds pretty extreme, I know, but that’s the fun of it!
Why do we say the face of the Earth? This is not your eyes-nose-mouth face, but the face that means surface. If you fall off the face of the Earth, you can imagine falling off a cliff like this one in Ireland:
This expression seems to imply that the Earth is flat and that we’ve fallen off the edge, never to be heard from again.
Here are some other expressions with the face of the Earth:
She’s the nicest person on the face of the Earth. (~in the world)
He dropped off/disappeared off the face of the Earth. (~completely disappeared)
The virus was wiped off the face of the Earth. (~was eradicated)