taking a leaf out of [the anti-Wal-Mart movement]


New Member
Here is the sentence:
"The ACFTU was taking a leaf out of the blobal anti-Wal-Mart movement, targeting the biggest and most high-profile company."

Could someone explain the meaning for me? Thanks in advance.
  • Kraus

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy

    Perhaps the meaning is "The ACFTU was following the example of the blobal..."

    I hope that helps.


    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    It derives from an old fashioned word for "page" and the original would be "to take a leaf out of his book".

    It implies that someone is following an example, as Kraus says, or even stealing someone's ideas or style.

    (p.s. I presume you are talking about Global something, not Blobal? :) )

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The sentence does not use the whole expression, which is:
    To take a leaf out of someone's book.

    I suppose the literal meaning of "leaf" here is "page".

    The expression means to copy the good example set by someone else.

    For example, imagine that you are spending far too much money on fuel for your car, while your friend X is using a good, cheap, bus service. If you complained to Y about the cost of using your car, Y might reply,
    Why don't you take a leaf out of X's book and use the bus?


    Senior Member
    Australia English
    "leaf" can be thought as "page". It's still quite commonly used as "loose-leaf", "overleaf"..and so on.

    He tore a leaf out of his notebook.
    He was leafing a magazine.

    I would say "leafing through a magazine".

    It doesn't work without the preposition


    Member Emeritus
    British English
    'to take a leaf out of someone's book' is, I believe, merely an expression relating to following a good example and can not be used literally as suggested by comsci or Alex_Murphy. Am I wrong on this?


    Senior Member
    The expression is figurative. It looks to me like comsci and Alex_Murphy were showing you how the literal word "leaf", meaning a page or piece of paper, related to the eventual figurative expression "taking a leaf out of x's book".

    Actually, you could use it literally, but I think most people would alter it slightly to make it clear that they did not intend the figurative meaning.

    For example,

    "I was short on paper for class today, so Alex let me borrow a leaf from his notebook" or "I hope you don't mind; I needed some paper so I took a couple of pages from your notebook."


    Senior Member
    "The ACFTU was taking a leaf out of the blobal anti-Wal-Mart movement, targeting the biggest and most high-profile company."

    This sounded funny to me, too, because the second half of the expression is missing. Whoever wrote this should have said something like "The ACFTU was taking a page out of the global anti-Wal-Mart movement's playbook, targeting the biggest and most high-profile company.

    Note 1: As an American, I wouldn't say "leaf," although I would, of course, understand it if someone else used it.

    Note 2: A playbook is a book in which a football coach (other sports, too?) describes all of the plays his team might run during a game. It is used to help new players learn what they'll need to know, as well as to remind current players of what they are supposed to know.


    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I understood that, JamesM, but I did not think it appropriate to introduce things like authority into this context, since I doubt the expression with 'leaf' would ever be used other than figuratively. As you suggested, in literal use one would say 'page'. Otherwise it could be misunderstood that 'leaf' is always synonymous with 'page', which it is not