Mama’s company had examined the place cards around the big dining-room table, which had enough leaves added so that twenty places could be set.

The passage above comes from Emily's Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary.

I'd like to ask a question about the implicit meaning of the highlighted phrase which had enough leaves added. Its literal meaning seems quite obvious, but when it comes to its meaning in context I can't picture what it means. The phrase should be the source of the phrase after so that, that is twenty places could be set. But I don't see any relation between which had enough leaves added and twenty places could be set.

  • 10
    Just so we're on the same page, you realize that "leaves added" refers to table extensions, which are commonly called leaves?
    – jimm101
    Feb 28, 2017 at 12:50

2 Answers 2


A leaf of a table is a portion which can be added to extend the table.

2.3 The hinged part or flap of a door, shutter, or table.


Normally, the table is constructed so that the top can be pulled apart, lengthening the table on runners between the pairs of legs. The space created in the top is then filled with one or more leaves.

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Canonbury Antiques

There are also tables where the leaves are permanently attached, stored under the ends of the table top in order that they can be pulled out to lengthen the table at each end rather than in the middle. Of necessity, there can be a maximum of two of these leaves. A table which can have leaves added in the middle is limited only by its original length and the strength of the structure.


It is referring to a leaf as part of the table.

(From the second definition linked above from Oxford)

  • a thing that resembles a leaf in being flat and thin, typically something that is one of two or more similar items forming a set or stack.
    • a single thickness of paper, especially in a book with each side forming a page. synonyms: page, sheet, folio
    • gold, silver, or other specified metal in the form of very thin foil.
    • the hinged part or flap of a door, shutter, or table.
    • an extra section inserted to extend a table.
    • the inner or outer part of a cavity wall or double-glazed window.
    • any of the stacked metal strips that form a leaf spring.

By inserting extra sections into a table it allows more place settings to be accommodated. The image below might help give you a visual context.

table leaf


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