\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

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 He was introduced in the drama's premiere as the survivor who tells sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), newly awakened from a coma, that an apocalypse has wiped out the population — and that flesh-eating zombies roam the earth. Greg Braxton, latimes.com, "'The Walking Dead's' Lennie James sticks up for his crossover to 'Fear the Walking Dead'," 12 Apr. 2018 Maybe a similar turnaround could eventually come for America's oldest gunmaker as well, all thanks to a flesh-eating watchdog from hell. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Chrysler's watchdog from hell bites another American icon, Remington," 26 Mar. 2018 But Audrey II, the flesh-eating bloom running the show in this comically twisted tale of romance in a florist shop, does take a heavy toll on the cast. Punch Shaw, star-telegram, "The man, the monster: 'Jekyll & Hyde' actor finds the right formula for demanding role | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 28 Feb. 2018 The plant, nicknamed Audrey II, ultimately grows to be too large and becomes a flesh-eating monster. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Five things to know about Kettle Moraine's 'Little Shop of Horrors'," 14 Feb. 2018 Doctors believe flesh-eating bacteria, which is known as necrotizing fasciitis, likely entered Liam's wound from the soil, the East Oregonian reported. Necrotizing fasciitis spreads quickly, killing the body's soft tissue. Mary Bowerman, USA TODAY, "8-year-old boy dies from flesh-eating bacteria days after falling off bike," 26 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 At Center Grove, the school hired an outside investigator to flesh out details of a list of complaints against football coach Eric Moore, including inappropriate language, physical contact, and intimidation and embarrassment of students. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "Coaches on hot seat: Youth sports, social media, parents have changed the job," 2 June 2018 But, in both cases, the conversation should really be focused on the entertainment industry's obligation to flesh out three-dimensional characters. Greta Lee, Glamour, "Now Trending on TV: The Sexy Asian Hunk," 14 Mar. 2018 British, Chinese, French, German and Russian officials will try to flesh out with Iran's deputy foreign minister a strategy to save the deal by keeping oil and investment flowing. NBC News, "Iran gives E.U. deadline to salvage nuclear deal," 25 May 2018 To flesh it out, The Economist conducted its own (admittedly unscientific) poll of 90 migrants between the ages of 18 and 33 in six areas of Beijing and Guangzhou, a large southern city. The Economist, "In China’s cities, young people with rural ties are angry," 3 May 2018 Christopher Berg is the musical’s arranger, taking the melodies Kesselman provided and fleshing them out into full songs that will be performed on a keyboard, reeds, and a cello. Terry Byrne, BostonGlobe.com, "George Takei’s ‘Allegiance’ is both a remembrance and a warning," 2 May 2018 The circumstances surrounding Archie's arrest kick off the drama of season 3 as the gang tries to #FreeArchie and Hiram Lodge continues to flesh out his plans to control not only Riverdale but the ever growing SoDale. Phillip Molnar, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Comic Con 2018: Here's your Sunday schedule," 8 July 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

19 Oct 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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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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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