fil·​let | \ˈfi-lət, in sense 2b also fi-ˈlā, ˈfi-(ˌ)lā \
variants: or less commonly filet \fi-​ˈlā, ˈfi-​(ˌ)lā \

Definition of fillet 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a ribbon or narrow strip of material used especially as a headband

2a : a thin narrow strip of material

b : a piece or slice of boneless meat or fish especially : the tenderloin of beef

3a : a concave junction formed where two surfaces meet (as at an angle)

b : a strip that gives a rounded appearance to such a junction also : a strip to reinforce the corner where two surfaces meet

4 : a narrow flat architectural member:

a : a flat molding separating others

b : the space between two flutings (see flute entry 1 sense 3) in a shaft


fil·​let | \ˈfi-lət, in sense 2 also fi-ˈlā, ˈfi-(ˌ)lā\
filleted; filleting; fillets

Definition of fillet (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to bind, furnish, or adorn with or as if with a fillet

2 : to cut into fillets

Examples of fillet in a Sentence


a juicy fillet of beef


He carefully filleted the fish with a sharp knife.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Dredge lightly in flour if the food is wet or soft, like tender fish fillets. Bethany Jean Clement, The Seattle Times, "How one game-changing recipe can make you a better cook: Susan Volland’s ‘Searing Inspiration’," 21 Nov. 2018 The night drew on, and the courses kept coming, each fancier than the next—red mullet with Provence artichokes and argan oil, veal fillet mignon with a thin tian tart. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "A Royal Night Out with Prince Albert, Princess Charlene, and Seal," 30 July 2018 The protests outside Blenheim Palace continued even as Mr. Trump, Mrs. May and around 150 guests dined on Scottish salmon, Hereford beef fillet and strawberries with clotted-cream ice cream. New York Times, "Big Protests Greet Trump’s Visit to Britain," 12 July 2018 The latter has white fillets floating in a clear broth with cellophane noodles and pickled mustard greens. Lillian Li, Bon Appetit, "We Like Our Crispy Intestines Extra Crispy," 6 June 2018 Add cod fillets and water; sprinkle cod with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Mediterranean Baked Cod," 21 Oct. 2016 Somewhere nearby, packages of those same fish and more, each fillet vacuum-sealed, wait behind a freezer glass door. Bonnie S. Benwick, charlotteobserver, "What you should know about buying frozen fish," 3 July 2018 Use a flame-forward fire for chicken breasts, fish fillets, thin steaks — foods that benefit from high heat and a pronounced smoke flavor. Steven Raichlen, New York Times, "Grilling Turns Back to an Ancient Fuel: Wood," 29 June 2018 Two anchovy fillets offer salt and a rumor of umami. Samin Nosrat, New York Times, "A Green Goddess Dressing for When Speed Matters," 24 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The price difference between the two filleting tools is not significantly different. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "Fillet blade a cut above the rest for anglers," 6 June 2018 The fish—filleted tilapia in this case—is prepared in a manner that gives it an almost silky, soft texture. Jim Thurman, Los Angeles Magazine, "A China Chain’s Pricey Bowls of Sauerkraut Fish Soup Have Landed in the SGV," 24 May 2018 The aircraft are already parked in the foothills of the French Pyrenees, where they will be filleted over the next two years by a specialist company and sold in parts. Tom Lavell,, "Two Unwanted A380s Are Moving Closer to the Scrapheap," 5 June 2018 The sushi festival hosted by Fanoomies Entertainment advertises tuna filleting demonstrations, door prizes and all-you-can eat Japanese food for just $20 as well as VIP packages that stretch up to $300. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "Sushi Fest has thousands of interested foodies. But some fear the event is fake," 31 May 2018 Fish are safe to eat as long as the flesh (only) is filleted away from the skin and washed. Bill Monroe,, "Free-Fishing weekend approaches in Oregon," 25 May 2018 The fish has to be handled carefully when caught and when filleted, but for customers in a restaurant or at the seafood counter of their local grocery, lionfish is no more of a threat than salmon or flounder or cod. Ben Lowy, Smithsonian, "The Lionfish Have Invaded, But a Ragtag Army of Divers and Chefs Are Fighting Back," 23 May 2018 El Piquin offers chicken, beef or shrimp fajitas, or try the fish fillet ranchero or fish tacos. Bud Kennedy, star-telegram, "Tortas, huaraches and green sauce at a little cafe in Grapevine | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 16 May 2018 After mate James Baker filleted all the fish, Utter invited everyone to Shenanigans Eastside to enjoy the day’s catch. Steve Waters, miamiherald, "Even with an unexpected catch, fishing in South Florida will give you a delicious meal | Miami Herald," 4 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fillet.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fillet


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fillet


Middle English filet, from Anglo-French, diminutive of fil thread, from Latin filum — more at file


see fillet entry 1

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Statistics for fillet

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for fillet

The first known use of fillet was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for fillet



English Language Learners Definition of fillet

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a piece or slice of boneless meat or fish



English Language Learners Definition of fillet (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cut (meat or fish) into fillets


fil·​let | \ˈfi-lət, fi-ˈlā\

Kids Definition of fillet

: a piece of boneless meat or fish


fil·​let | \ˈfil-ət \

Medical Definition of fillet 

: a band of anatomical fibers specifically : lemniscus

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More from Merriam-Webster on fillet

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fillet

Spanish Central: Translation of fillet

Nglish: Translation of fillet for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about fillet

Comments on fillet

What made you want to look up fillet? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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