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From Middle English flesh, flesch, flæsch, from Old English flǣsċ, from Proto-West Germanic *flaiski, from Proto-Germanic *flaiski, from Proto-Indo-European *pleh₁ḱ- (to tear, peel off)


  • IPA(key): /flɛʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛʃ


flesh (usually uncountable, plural fleshes)

  1. The soft tissue of the body, especially muscle and fat.
    • 1918, Fannie Farmer, Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, Chapter XVII: Poultry and Game:
      The flesh of chicken, fowl, and turkey has much shorter fibre than that of ruminating animals, and is not intermingled with fat,—the fat always being found in layers directly under the skin, and surrounding the intestines.
  2. The skin of a human or animal.
  3. (by extension) Bare arms, bare legs, bare torso.
  4. Animal tissue regarded as food; meat (but sometimes excluding fish).
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, “ij”, in Le Morte Darthur, book XV:
      Thenne syr launcelot sayd / fader what shalle I do / Now sayd the good man / I requyre yow take this hayre that was this holy mans and putte it nexte thy skynne / and it shalle preuaylle the gretely / syr and I wille doo hit sayd sir launcelot / Also I charge you that ye ete no flesshe as longe as ye be in the quest of the sancgreal / nor ye shalle drynke noo wyne / and that ye here masse dayly and ye may doo hit
    • c.1530s, William Tyndale, Tyndale Bible, Leviticus, 7, xix-xxi,
      The flesh that twycheth any vnclene thinge shall not be eaten. but burnt with fire:and all that be clene in their flesh, maye eate flesh.
      Yf any soule eate of the flesh of the peaceofferynges, that pertayne vnto the Lorde and hys vnclennesse yet apon him, the same soule shall perisshe from amonge his peoole[sic]. ¶ Moreouer yf a soule twych any vnclene thinge, whether it be the vnclennesse of man or of any vnclene beest or any abhominacion that is vnclene: ad the eate of the flesh of the peaceoffrynges whiche pertayne vnto the Lord, that soule shall perissh from his people.
    • 2018, Raj Patel and Jason W Moore, How the chicken nugget became the true symbol of our era in The Guardian, 8 May
      Chicken is already the most popular meat in the US, and is projected to be the planet’s favourite flesh by 2020.
  5. The human body as a physical entity.
    • c.1530s, William Tyndale, Tyndale Bible, Leviticus, 6, x,
      And the preast shall put on his lynen albe and his lynen breches apon his flesh, and take awaye the asshes whiche the fire of the burntsacrifice in the altare hath made, and put them besyde the alter,
  6. (religion) The mortal body of a human being, contrasted with the spirit or soul.
    • 1769, King James Bible, Oxford Standard text, Galatians, 5, xvii,
      For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
    • 1929 January, Bassett Morgan (Grace Jones), Bimini, first published in Weird Tales, reprinted 1949, in Avon Fantasy Reader, Issue 10,
      But death had no gift for me, no power to free me from flesh.
  7. (religion) The evil and corrupting principle working in man.
  8. The soft, often edible, parts of fruits or vegetables.
    • 2003, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Arboretum America: A Philosophy of the Forest, page 81,
      The flesh of black walnuts was a protein-packed winter food carefully hoarded in tall, stilted buildings.
  9. (obsolete) Tenderness of feeling; gentleness.
  10. (obsolete) Kindred; stock; race.
  11. A yellowish pink colour; the colour of some Caucasian human skin.



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


flesh (third-person singular simple present fleshes, present participle fleshing, simple past and past participle fleshed)

  1. (transitive) To reward (a hound, bird of prey etc.) with flesh of the animal killed, to excite it for further hunting; to train (an animal) to have an appetite for flesh.
    • 1751, Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, I.8:
      Before they had fleshed the hounds, however, he recollected himself [] .
  2. (transitive) To bury (something, especially a weapon) in flesh.
    • 1933, Robert E. Howard, The Scarlet Citadel:
      Give me a clean sword and a clean foe to flesh it in.
  3. (obsolete) To inure or habituate someone in or to a given practice. [16th-18th c.]
  4. (transitive) To glut.
  5. (transitive) To put flesh on; to fatten.
  6. To remove the flesh from the skin during the making of leather.


Derived termsEdit

See alsoEdit


Middle EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit


From Old English flǣsċ, from Proto-West Germanic *flaiski, from Proto-Germanic *flaiski, from Proto-Indo-European *pleh₁ḱ- (to tear, peel off).


  • IPA(key): /flɛːʃ/, /flɛʃ/


flesh (uncountable)

  1. flesh (especially that of a mammal)
  2. (Christianity, theology) A communion wafer
  3. (anatomy) A muscle
  4. meat, flesh for consumption
  5. A human or being
  6. The body, physical existence, nature (especially that of a human)
  7. sexual intercourse, copulation

Usage notesEdit

Much like with English fish, this word is a collective noun, but can be pluralised to refer to different meats.


  • English: flesh
  • Scots: flesch
  • Yola: vleash, vlesh