What does the idiom "turn over a new leaf" mean?

turn over a new leaf is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression turn over a new leaf is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "turn over a new leaf"


The idiom 'turn over a new leaf' is a metaphor for making an effort to improve oneself, to live a better life, or to start something fresh and new. It suggests that one has made a conscious decision to turn over a new page and to create a better version of themselves, leaving the mistakes of the past behind.


This phrase is traceable back to the early 1700s, and is a metaphor taken from a physical book. When a book is finished or a reader wants to start a new chapter, they would literally turn the leaf of the book, or the page, to start a new chapter. The phrase ‘turning over a new leaf’ was then used to describe a person’s decision to start a new chapter in their life, a metaphor that is still used today.


The phrase ‘turn over a new leaf’ is generally used as a positive phrase in everyday speech. It is usually used when a person has decided to make a positive change in their life or behaviour. The phrase is often used to encourage someone to start doing something good or inspiring, either in their personal or professional life. For example, “having lost his job, he decided to turn over a new leaf and pursue his long-time dream of becoming a chef.”

Example Sentences

  • He has decided to turn over a new leaf and apply himself to his studies.
  • She is trying to turn over a new leaf and stop smoking.
  • The student has promised to turn over a new leaf and not to get into any more trouble.
  • He has decided to turn over a new leaf and take more responsibility for his actions.

The meanings of the words in the "turn over a new leaf" idiom

The universal role of idioms

"Kill two birds with one stone" is an English idiom that means to accomplish two things with a single action. In French, the similar idiom is "Faire d'une pierre deux coups," which translates to "To kill two birds with one stone." This idiom highlights the efficiency of completing two tasks with one action.


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