turn over a new leaf

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turn over a new leaf

Fig. to begin again, fresh; to reform and begin again. (Fig. on turning to a fresh page. The leaf is a page—a fresh, clean page.) I have made a mess of my life. I'll turn over a new leaf and hope to do better. Why don't you turn over a new leaf and surprise everyone with your good characteristics?
See also: leaf, new, over, turn

turn over a new leaf

Make a fresh start, change one's conduct or attitude for the better, as in He promised the teacher he would turn over a new leaf and behave himself in class. This expression alludes to turning the page of a book to a new page. [Early 1500s]
See also: leaf, new, over, turn

turn over a new leaf

COMMON If someone has turned over a new leaf, they have started to behave in a better way than before. Note: The `leaf' in the last two expressions is a page of a book. While Eddie has turned over a new leaf, his brother can still be spotted in the bars along Sunset Strip. Both men have agreed to turn over a new leaf in their relations with each other. Compare with turn the page.
See also: leaf, new, over, turn

turn over a new leaf

improve your conduct or performance.
The leaf referred to here is a page of a book. The phrase has been used in this metaphorical sense since the 16th century, and while it now always means ‘change for the better’, it could previously also mean just ‘change’ or even ‘change for the worse’.
See also: leaf, new, over, turn

turn over a new ˈleaf

change your way of behaving and start a better life: This is a new project to help ex-prisoners turn over a new leaf.
See also: leaf, new, over, turn
References in classic literature ?
And after supper he talked to him about temperance and such things till the old man cried, and said he'd been a fool, and fooled away his life; but now he was a-going to turn over a new leaf and be a man nobody wouldn't be ashamed of, and he hoped the judge would help him and not look down on him.
Besides, I want to turn over a new leaf completely now.
Don't talk that way, turn over a new leaf and begin again, Teddy, my son.
How is it, friend; have you found a new leaf in your book of wisdom?
I wonder now, supposing Harris, say, turned over a new leaf, and became a great and good man, and got to be Prime Minister, and died, if they would put up signs over the public-houses that he had patronised: "Harris had a glass of bitter in this house;" "Harris had two of Scotch cold here in the summer of `88;" "Harris was chucked from here in December, 1886.
Now turn over a new leaf and take warning by what I say to you.
Never did I look forward so intensely to anything; and every day I go the rounds, admiring what the dear little things have achieved in the twentyfour hours in the way of new leaf or increase of lovely red shoot.
What Champollion will decipher this hieroglyphic for us, that we may turn over a new leaf at last?
Godfrey didn't turn over a new leaf, he might say "Good-bye" to Miss Nancy Lammeter.
And now there was a new leaf to be turned over, and it was a picture--that of the angel seated on the great stone that has been rolled away from the sepulchre.
Pennifeather was released upon the spot, inherited the fortune of his uncle, profited by the lessons of experience, turned over a new leaf, and led happily ever afterward a new life.
To turn over a new leaf, you double-dyed scoundrel," shouted Ralph, "and beg your wife's pardon, and be a good boy for the future.
My promise to the procureur du roi at Grenoble was based upon your vow never to go poaching again, and to turn over a new leaf and become a steady, industrious worker.
After days of rain and greyness the weather had turned over a new leaf.
In a word, I turned over a new leaf and did my best to make up for the past.