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flesh definition


This page has 24 definitions of flesh in English and Middle English. Flesh is a noun and verb. Examples of how to use flesh in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

English flesh definition


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).



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
      (please add an English translation of this quote)
    • 1530, [William Tyndale, transl., The Pentateuch] (Tyndale Bible), vij:[19–21], folio XI, verso:
      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: ãd thẽ 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.
  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 Dictionary: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.
  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 terms

See also


Middle English flesh definition

Alternative forms


Inherited 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 notes

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