\ˈflesh \

Definition of flesh 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the soft parts of the body of an animal and especially of a vertebrate especially : the parts composed chiefly of skeletal muscle as distinguished from internal organs, bone, and integument

b : the condition of having ample fat on the body cattle in good flesh

c : skin

2a : edible parts of an animal

b : flesh of a mammal or fowl eaten as food

3a : the physical nature of human beings the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak — Matthew 26:41 (King James Version)

b : human nature

4a : human beings : humankind

b : living beings

c : stock, kindred

5 : a fleshy plant part used as food also : the fleshy part of a fruit

6 Christian Science : an illusion that matter has sensation

7 : facts or details that provide substance to something Her careful documentation puts the necessary flesh on much that has been merely speculation …— John H. Crook

in the flesh

: in person and alive


fleshed; fleshing; fleshes

Definition of flesh (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to initiate or habituate especially by giving a foretaste

2 archaic : gratify

3a : to clothe or cover with or as if with flesh broadly : to give substance to usually used with out flesh out a plan

b : to make fuller or more nearly complete used with out museums fleshing out their collections with borrowed works

4 : to free from flesh

intransitive verb

: to become fleshy often used with up or out

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Synonyms for flesh

Synonyms: Noun


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Examples of flesh in a Sentence


the flabby white flesh of his belly a disease that causes sores on the flesh

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Avoid any pears with large dark or mushy spots and tears in the flesh. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "How to Pick the Most Delicious Pears Every Time," 19 Sep. 2018 The play is such a sacred document for me and so many others—studied, obsessed over, revered in HBO mini-series form, quoted for years—that to encounter it in the flesh, in all its grandeur and abundance, is almost surreal. Richard Lawson, Vanities, "Review: Angels in America Returns to Broadway in All Its Triumph and Tragedy," 26 Mar. 2018 Some of the book’s more haunting moments evoke the physical details of starvation: The look, especially of Prising’s parents, hollowed out, the flesh almost gone from his father’s limbs. James M. Scott, WSJ, "Five Best: James M. Scott," 8 Nov. 2018 Narrowing down the vast pool of flesh-color sticks, pots, and tubes that really perform can be an annoying (and expensive) exercise. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "The Best Concealers, According to Sephora Reviews," 11 Oct. 2018 For some people, exposing flesh puts them in the mood. Georgia Clark, Marie Claire, "8 Surprising Lessons I Learned From a Sex Party," 12 Sep. 2018 Doctors blame the infection on a strain of bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus, which is sometimes referred to as flesh-eating bacteria. Amanda Macmillan, Health.com, "Vibrio Vulnificus: What to Know About The 'Flesh-Eating Bacteria' That Has a New Jersey Man Fighting For His Life," 10 July 2018 Her death has not officially been ruled the result of flesh-eating bacteria. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "Flesh-eating bacteria suspected as cause of grandma's death after a Florida vacation | Miami Herald," 11 May 2018 On the way, Castner and Co. are tormented by gumball-sized flesh-eating flies, deadly lightning storms, oceanic waves, ceaseless rain, prowling bears, thieving locals, Hyundai-sized rapids, and countless near-disasters. Porter Fox, Outside Online, "The Best New Books About Epic Expeditions," 19 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Noelle and the team behind the remake had a couple of things in mind while updating the character and She-Ra's animation for today's world, including fleshing her out beyond a static, one-dimensional character. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, ""She-Ra and the Princesses of Power" Teaser Trailer Shows Adora Transforming Into the Iconic Warrior," 10 Sep. 2018 This article in the Everett Herald fleshes it out more, gives a little bit more nuance. Dylan Bumbarger, OregonLive.com, "HB4093: news and links on the minimum wage extension bill," 2 June 2017 Later, after the livestream had concluded, Intel fleshed out the remaining members of the K-series parts, and disclosed the price and performance of the X-series parts. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Intel debuts 9th-generation Core chips, including Core i9 and X-series parts, with a few twists," 8 Oct. 2018 The realization may help push leaders to commit to greater action to rein in climate change ahead of a year-end deadline that countries have set themselves to flesh out the 2015 Paris climate accord, Meyer said. Fox News, "Small islands use big platform to warn of climate change," 27 Sep. 2018 On his debut EP Ready, out today, the young artist is just beginning to flesh out a sound that is deeply felt and instantly catchy, in the vein of a Sam Smith. Raisa Bruner, Time, "5 Songs You Need to Listen to This Week," 15 June 2018 However, a detailed plan to establish a new military branch will take time to flesh out, and exactly how the Space Force would operate alongside the other branches is not yet clear. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Trump Calls on Pentagon to Create Military Space Force," 18 June 2018 And DeMonaco seized the opportunity to flesh out the concept beyond the scope of a limited budget. Sonaiya Kelley, latimes.com, "An oral history of 'The Purge' franchise: From micro-horror breakout to Trump-era cautionary tale," 4 July 2018 Try it, or wait for an expansion to flesh things out. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "Jurassic World Evolution," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flesh.' 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 flesh


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


1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for flesh


Middle English, from Old English flǣsc; akin to Old High German fleisk flesh and perhaps to Old English flēan to flay — more at flay

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Statistics for flesh

Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for flesh

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

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More Definitions for flesh



English Language Learners Definition of flesh

: the soft parts of the body of an animal or person

: the skin of a person

: parts of an animal used as food


\ˈflesh \

Kids Definition of flesh

1 : the soft parts of an animal's or person's body

2 : the part of an animal that is eaten : meat

3 : a soft edible plant part an apple's white flesh


\ˈflesh \

Medical Definition of flesh 

: the soft parts of the body of an animal and especially of a vertebrate especially : the parts composed chiefly of skeletal muscle as distinguished from visceral structures, bone, and integuments — see goose bumps, proud flesh

Other Words from flesh

fleshed \ˈflesht \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on flesh

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flesh

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for flesh

Spanish Central: Translation of flesh

Nglish: Translation of flesh for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of flesh for Arabic Speakers

Comments on flesh

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


to enclose within walls

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