\ ˈflesh How to pronounce flesh (audio) \

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)
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

Though Buffett wasn't present in the flesh, his rum-sipping spirit certainly guided the costumed cavalcade. Doug Maccash, NOLA.com, "Jimmy Buffett 'Parrot Head' fans parade in the French Quarter," 16 Jan. 2018 The exact circumstances of Bernthal's return remain unknown, though the decisiveness of Shane's death rules out a flesh-and-blood return, at least in the present timeline. Josh Wigler, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Walking Dead': Jon Bernthal to Return in Season 9," 18 June 2018 There are, of course, both policy and flesh-and-blood implications for normalizing xenophobia and denying that white supremacism exists. Mari Uyehara, GQ, "How Free Speech Warriors Mainstreamed White Supremacists," 8 May 2018 To assemble, scoop out the fibrous matter and seeds from the squash and discard (or save the seeds for another use), then scoop out a 2-inch channel of flesh, chop or break it up, and mix it into the rice. Joe Yonan, The Seattle Times, "Vegetarian (or vegan) guests for Thanksgiving? Serve them this beauty," 13 Nov. 2018 The flexible little rubber arms clip onto any pair of EarPods (or AirPods), extending their height and supporting them against the curl of flesh at the top of your ear called the scaphoid fossa. Peter Martin, Popular Mechanics, "How to Make Your New Apple EarPods Fit Perfectly," 19 Oct. 2018 GUTFELD: Nothing in the Constitution says the president has to be made of flesh. Fox News, "Gutfeld: The left is turning on the left," 15 Sep. 2018 Cut around star outline with carving knife, then use flat linoleum cutter to remove layer of flesh within outline. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, "50+ Creative Pumpkin Carving Ideas for Halloween," 25 July 2018 As a young man in San Leandro, Fred Korematsu once had a surgeon cut a bit of flesh from his eyelids — to look less Japanese, less suspicious to his neighbors. Deanna Paul, Washington Post, "How the Supreme Court struck down a WWII-era travesty when it upheld Trump’s travel ban," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But Congress is out of session as lawmakers campaign for the Nov. 6 elections and the president’s plan for a new middle-income cut of about 10 percent has yet to be fleshed out. Catherine Lucey, The Seattle Times, "Trump pitches policy in final midterm message," 27 Oct. 2018 The ball lightning weapons that Lin and Chen are responsible for creating could aid China against its adversaries (presumably the United States, but frustratingly, Liu never fleshes out the specific geopolitics of the looming war). Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "From the author of The Three-Body Problem," 15 Sep. 2018 The other episodes will be fleshed out with behind-the-scenes audio of Bourdain, with final edits by the directors who filmed them for Bourdain's production company. Devon Elizabeth, Condé Nast Traveler, "Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown Will Return for a Final 7-Episode Season," 1 Aug. 2018 Hughes takes care to flesh out Hager’s motivations, which prove to be more complicated than unblinking servitude. Angela Flournoy, New York Times, "How Langston Hughes Brought His Radical Vision to the Novel," 2 Jan. 2018 Their visions for the program vary, but the fundamentals of a job guarantee were fleshed out most fully in a proposal released in March by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Max Gulker, WSJ, "The Dangerous Fantasy of a ‘Jobs Guarantee’," 14 Nov. 2018 For trip inspiration and itinerary planning, head over to our destinations page, where we've got fully fleshed out guides for several of these cities. Bridget Hallinan, Condé Nast Traveler, "Flight Deal: East Coast to Europe from $362 Round-Trip," 16 July 2018 John Tracey is more fleshed-out as courtesan Émilie, and Maurice Emmanuel Parent is assured as Valmont’s valet Azolan. Jeffrey Gantz, BostonGlobe.com, "Sex as a weapon in Nora’s all-male ‘Liaisons’," 5 June 2018 La’Tevin Alexander delivers a knockout performance as Clay, channeling his trademark humor and self-assurance and fleshing out a thoroughly believable transformation from, as his friend puts it, one who fights for himself to one who fights for all. Amy Wang | The Oregonian/oregonlive, OregonLive.com, "A lively, inspiring look at Muhammad Ali's early life as Cassius Clay," 7 Mar. 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

9 Mar 2019

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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 How to pronounce flesh (audio) \

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 How to pronounce flesh (audio) \

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 How to pronounce fleshed (audio) \ 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

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a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

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