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The importance of leafiness

She is just a couple months away from opening a safe house with beds and rooms, on a leafy green street in an undisclosed Northern Virginia suburb. … (The Washington Post)

The one-story stucco home where Gilberto Jordán lives west of this south Palm Beach County community does not stand out in the leafy neighborhood near Interstate 95. (Miami Herald)

A six-foot stuffed grizzly bear guards the entrance to the offices of Fleckenstein Capital Inc., located on a quiet, leafy street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. (

Trucks Stray, and a Leafy Neighborhood Turns Livid (New York Times headline)

Al-Rabat expects the Al-Nawfara, on a leafy street behind the mosque, to survive the indoor smoking ban because it has tables spilling into the street, where smoking is still legal. (USA Today)

But in the last few months, the 76-year-old has been too afraid to leave her home in this place people call Heidi’s Crossing, a leafy neighborhood with tidy mobile homes. (Houston Chronicle)

Cohen sought out Wright in 1953 as members of his North Philadelphia congregation increasingly joined the white exodus from the city and began settling around the leafy suburb of Elkins Park. (Seattle Times)

"We had to go through a lot, putting it in front of the board. And it's never going to be a big moneymaking thing," Stark says at his factory on a leafy street in Hollywood, where craftsmen make wax molds for jewelry. (Los Angeles Times)

Reminder to writers: The next time you are tempted to resort to leafy to characterize an area, do a quick Google search to remind yourself that the word is also a dominant cliche in real estate advertisements.

Posted by John McIntyre at 7:18 PM | | Comments (8)


I'm shooting for tony, followed by upscale.

Ah, the scent of madeleines! My mother had a close friend whose first name was "Leafy." She wouldn't stand a chance in today's world, would she?

"a safe house with beads and rooms"

If leafy comes, can manicured be far behind? At least leafy is just a tired adjective, not a tired metaphor like manicured or bedroom community.

As a child I had nature camp counselors who called themselves "Leaf" and "Twig." (This was before Twiggy, btw.)

If only we could trim the leafy cliches in newswriting for print and broadcast, the audience would be better served.

In some parts of the country most of the trees would be pines, spruces and similar evergreens. Would you be in a "needled" or "needly" neighborhood? That might sound like there are heroin addicts hanging around.

Jim Sweeney, doesn't that lead us back to tree-lined streets?

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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