Leaf peeping in fall Posted by on Oct 19, 2012 in English Vocabulary

Leaf peeping is a common fall activity in the United States, especially in the northeastern region, but what is it?  First let’s define the words in this phrase;

Leaf (n) – the flat, often green, part of a tree
to peep (v) – to take a quick look or glance

Now that you know what these words mean by themselves, let’s talk about what they mean together in this phrase.  Leaf peeping is an informal phrase used to describe the activity of looking at fall foliage*.  Some people get very excited about seeing the changing colors of the trees in fall.  People often travel to see the foliage in the northeast United States because the leaves change such vivid** remarkable colors.  The changing colors range from red, orange, and yellow to even some shades of purple, before turning brown and falling off.  It is really quite beautiful to see, especially looking at a whole mountain, or mountain range, covered in these colors.

The beauty of the trees is why so many people around this time of year like to go looking at leaves or leaf peeping.  The origin of the phrase, leaf peeping, is not well known, but we can gather from the fast changes in the leave’s colors that the reason people are said to be “peeping” is because people have to be quick in order to see the leaves at just the right time.  Often the most vivid colors last only a few days or a week.  And of course the trees don’t change color at exactly the same time every year, so it is always a bit of a guess (or a mystery) as to when the colors will be best each year.

One of the best trees to watch for changing colors is the maple tree.  It should be of no surprise to you that the northeastern, or New England area, of the Unites states is known for having many of these trees.  This is why people travel to the northeast region to go leaf peeping.   In fact, leaf peepers (people out to see the fall foliage), come from around the world to New England in the fall, to see the trees and enjoy other fall treats.  One treat that New England is famous for is maple syrup.  Maple syrup is a sweet sauce made from the sap*** of maple trees.

If you can’t be a leaf peeper in person, at least you can enjoy some beautiful pictures of this year’s fall foliage in this post.*foliage = plant leaves as a group, collectively
**vivid = bright colors
***sap = liquid that flows in trees


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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.