See also: fleá


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Etymology 1Edit

False colors scanning electron micrograph of a flea.

From Middle English fle, from Old English flēah, flēa, from Proto-Germanic *flauhaz (compare West Frisian flie, Low German Flo, Flö, Dutch vlo, German Floh, Icelandic fló), from pre-Germanic *plóukos, *plówkos, from Proto-Indo-European *plúsis (compare Latin pulex, Sanskrit प्लुषि (plúṣi)).

The archaic plural fleen is from Middle English fleen, flen, from Old English flēan (fleas).


  • IPA(key): /fliː/
  • (file)


flea (plural fleas)

  1. A small, wingless, parasitic insect of the order Siphonaptera, renowned for its bloodsucking habits and jumping abilities.
  2. (derogatory) A thing of no significance.
    • 1871, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, The Heart of the Continent, page 414:
      The nation of beggars on horseback which first colonized California has left behind it many traditions unworthy of conservation, and multitudinous fleas not at all traditional, but even less keepworthy []
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

Alternative forms.


flea (third-person singular simple present fleas, present participle fleaing, simple past and past participle flead)

  1. Obsolete spelling of flay
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, Folio Society 1973, p. 74:
      In this Thwackum had the advantage; for while Square could only scarify the poor lad's reputation, he could flea his skin [...].