Illustrated Architecture Dictionary
.......... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

Trefoil/Trefoil arch
TREE foil, tref oil


A three-lobed circle or arch formed by cusping

Used in windows and arches

In French, "foil" means "leaf." The number of foils involved is indicated by a prefix, e.g. trefoil, quatrefoil, cinquefoil, sexfoil, multifoil

Found in Gothic Revival, Tudor Revival styles

A trefoil combined with an equilateral triangle was a moderately common symbol of the Christian Trinity during the late Middle Ages in some parts of Europe.

A stylized shamrock,

symbol of perpetuity, with the three leaves representing the past, present and future. It is also sometimes a symbol of fertility and abundance.

In Christian contexts it is used as a symbol for the Holy Trinity. As such it is often placed within a circle.


An architectural term for an arrangement of three interconnecting arcs; at each intersection there is a cusp.

In furniture the motif (pattern) was often applied to pierced arches and trefoil feet.

Examples from Buffalo:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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