\ ˈflā How to pronounce flay (audio) \
flayed; flaying; flays

Definition of flay

transitive verb

1 : to strip off the skin or surface of : skin The hunter flayed the rabbit and prepared it for cooking.
2 : to criticize harshly : excoriate He was flayed by the media for his controversial comments.
3 : lash sense 1b the wind whipped up to gale fury, flaying his face— Richard Kent

Examples of flay in a Sentence

her husband flayed her constantly for her incessant shopping flayed their kill right there in the forest, taking both the meat and the skin home
Recent Examples on the Web But Republicans cited the recent deceleration in hiring to flay Mr. Biden’s economic policies. New York Times, 7 Jan. 2022 This isn’t to criticize the family, but to flay CNN, which should have reported the factual context of the household’s inflation experience. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 10 Nov. 2021 In their minority report, GOP members of the Ways and Means Committee seized the opportunity to flay Roosevelt for the New Deal’s fiscal irresponsibility. Joseph Thorndike, Forbes, 12 Oct. 2021 Trauma becomes narrative currency, and whoever can claim the most trauma and flay themselves open widest for TV consumption wins the Sadness Olympics. Kathryn Vanarendonk, Vulture, 22 June 2021 For his part, Mr. Cunningham is happy to flay Mr. Tillis, but has little appetite to elevate the national stakes. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, 23 Sep. 2020 Cunningham is happy to flay Tillis, but has little appetite to elevate the national stakes. Jonathan Martin New York Times, Star Tribune, 22 Sep. 2020 Separating fact from invention is difficult, but there are rumors that there was more than one murderer, the killing was drug-related and perhaps most disturbingly, that Driscoll was either dismembered or flayed alive. Alex Heigl, PEOPLE.com, 11 Dec. 2019 The Indians tie Clyde to the Skinning Tree and flay him alive. Jennifer Percy, Harper's magazine, 20 Jan. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of flay

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for flay

Middle English flen, from Old English flēan; akin to Old Norse flā to flay, Lithuanian plėšti to tear

Learn More About flay

Time Traveler for flay

Time Traveler

The first known use of flay was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near flay

flax wilt


F layer

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for flay

Cite this Entry

“Flay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flay. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for flay


\ ˈflā How to pronounce flay (audio) \
flayed; flaying

Kids Definition of flay

1 : to strip off the skin or surface of
2 : to beat severely

More from Merriam-Webster on flay

Nglish: Translation of flay for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!