Definition of flank in English:



  • 1The side of a person's or animal's body between the ribs and the hip.

    ‘leaning against his horse's flanks’
    • ‘Gregory gathered the reins in his hands and tapped his horse's flanks with his heels.’
    • ‘Dan patted his horse on the flank and unsaddled it, then took off its bridle.’
    • ‘He had eased himself up to the flank of the horse in front.’
    • ‘They tested for level of sensory block by stubbing their thighs and flanks with the cigars they puffed with their after-dinner brandy.’
    • ‘He tapped his horse's flanks and moved back to the front of the procession.’
    • ‘And no imported food nourishes the people's bodies and warms their spirits like the meat they slice from the flanks of a whale or seal.’
    • ‘The shaved flanks of the galloping horses were flecked with foaming sweat.’
    • ‘Patients with acute pancreatitis present with mild to severe epigastric pain, with radiation to the flank, the back, or both.’
    • ‘He was close enough to see the deep scars on the horse's flanks.’
    • ‘The ambulance report notes her complaint of pain to the right flank and in the area of her right ribs.’
    • ‘The patient has a high white count and tenderness of the left flank.’
    • ‘The horse's flanks were already heaving as she sucked in deep breaths.’
    • ‘He dug his heels into his horse's flanks, and the mare quickened her pace until they reached the gates.’
    • ‘Apache is white with black patches over his left flank, under his chest and neck and over the top of his head, around his eyes.’
    • ‘Gregory gathered up his reins and squeezed his horse's flanks gently.’
    • ‘Giving them both last, loving looks, Darryl gently kicked his horse's flanks, and he set off.’
    • ‘He shook his head to dismiss the troublesome thoughts, and dug his spurs into the flanks of the horse.’
    • ‘He brought his heels back into the horse's flanks.’
    • ‘The flanks of the two animals collided together and Adam heard leather ripping, just as a shaft of pain ran up his leg.’
    • ‘To his left Sandra kicked her heels into the horse's flanks and clicked her tongue.’
    side, haunch, loin, quarter, thigh
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    1. 1.1 A cut of meat from the flank of an animal.
      ‘a thick flank of beef’
      • ‘But how to make good use of the topside, silverside and thick flank was always less well understood.’
      • ‘A ceramic bowl spills over with a hearty stew of calamari, shrimp, flanks of fish, mussels and scallops in a mild and vaguely sweet tomato-fennel sauce.’
      • ‘There were nice fatty chuck roasts, rolled flanks and skirts, four kinds of fresh looking ground beef in those pretty crowns that I knew I'd never learn to make.’
      • ‘The lifting of import restrictions on pork flank and offal will affect pig farmers.’
      • ‘For beef, good casserole cuts are shin, brisket, neck, topside, thick flank or shoulder.’
      • ‘What about ground beef, roast beef, tenderloin, porterhouse, T-bone, flank, ribs, and other cuts?’
      • ‘I spend all day hauling around big tubs of pork chops and beef flanks to be packed, wrapped and carted off to restaurants.’
    2. 1.2 The side of a large object or structure.
      ‘the northern flank of the Rockies’
      • ‘It's easy to see where you're headed, up the northern flank of Wensleydale to the lower of two woods and a bit higher.’
      • ‘Major canyons are also present on the western flanks of Guadeloupe and northern Dominica, above the deep Grenada Basin.’
      • ‘The inner short side abuts the common parts, the outer short side is part of the outer flank of the building.’
      • ‘The ground was snatched from under him and suddenly he was naked, running across the smooth flank of a mountain.’
      • ‘One investigation to an anomaly revealed by the scans on the northern flank of the hill revealed nothing of significance, said English Heritage.’
      • ‘However, it is only the northern flank of this ancestral edifice that remains.’
      • ‘She added that more investigations had been carried out below a blemish to the northern flank of the five-and-a-half acre mound but no problems were found.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the Cherokees fought sporadic engagements against other native peoples on their western and northern mountain flanks.’
      • ‘And, in early April, geologists had noted that the northern flank of the mountain was beginning to bulge ominously.’
      • ‘The Arch is so big it has two four-story houses built into each flank.’
      • ‘Glaciers are found on the north flank of nearly every mountain peak that is over 11,500 feet high.’
      • ‘The reduction in thickness of the Middle jurassic units in the northern flank of Jabal Akhdar is mainly due to a top truncation.’
      • ‘In 1908 seismic activity accompanying the eruption onset was characterized by deep earthquakes in the northern flank and shallower ones in the Valle del Bove area.’
      • ‘Hugging the long north flank of the building, a shallow flight of steps leads from the street to the square, channelling visitors up to the museum entrance.’
      • ‘The southwestern flanks of these mountains and the nearby lowlands are known as the island's ‘wet zone.’’
      • ‘The site forms a recessed L-shape, with buildings on two flanks, perceived as welcoming arms for ocean liners entering Victoria Harbour.’
      • ‘Determine the style of faulting and deformation on the flanks of the structure.’
      • ‘The ascent of the mountain's northern flanks look fearsome from here but, although steep, there were no real difficulties.’
      • ‘These reference sections have a similar thickness and composition, and are 33 km apart on the northern and southern flanks of Jabal Akhdar.’
      • ‘Exposed layering is steepest in the northern flanks of the dome where it parallels the outer slopes of the bedrock collar.’
      • ‘The sensor repeater showed a large port opening on the flank of that ship, and our heading was taking us right toward it.’
      • ‘Without the forests shading the mountain's flanks, grass grows abundantly.’
      • ‘Mosquito Ghaut was a major valley on the northern flank and guided many pyroclastic flows in 1997.’
      • ‘Staying at base camp, Deborah would look after the dogs while Jerry and I attempted to climb one of the mountain's flanks.’
      • ‘But everywhere were cottages, the homes of Dalznans clinging proudly to the mountains' flanks and living out their lives.’
      • ‘There is snow on the ground, and through the murk over Kabul the flanks of the surrounding mountains occasionally shine gold.’
      • ‘Past and recent volcanic activity is mainly located on the summit craters and along fissure systems on the flanks of the mountain.’
      • ‘Lavas form the main part of the northern and eastern flanks and a small part of the southwestern flank.’
      • ‘Its northern flank swooped up from the corrie floor at a vertiginous angle.’
      • ‘The park's southern boundary runs along the southern base of the range, and the northern flank of the Ilparpa claypans.’
      • ‘Strong cold winds, generated on the ice sheet's northern flanks, blow out across the ocean, cooling the surface waters.’
      • ‘The entire northern flank of the mountain collapses and falls as an avalanche lowering the height of the mountain by 1,500 feet.’
      • ‘The trail curls nearly 3,000 feet up the mountain's east flank in 4.2 miles, and the wind is a reliable companion.’
      • ‘Deep in the Nevada desert by the flanks of Yucca Mountain stand a cedar pole, a sweat lodge and a circle of stones.’
      • ‘Rising 13,000 feet out of the sweltering lowlands, the mountains' flanks are choked in jungle thicket that few have ever fully explored - not even the locals.’
      • ‘These linear depressions are filled with brines that are the result of dissolution of evaporites by fluids travelling up the flank of the structure.’
      • ‘Sometime ago, water leaked from the right flank of the solid structure.’
      • ‘Flasby Fell comprises the twin peaks of Rough Haw and Sharp Haw just north of Skipton and includes the forested area on the northern and western flanks.’
      • ‘The northern flank of the southern mound is onlapped or downlapped by the next mound to the north.’
      • ‘It removed the top 1,300 feet of the mountain and a good chunk of the crater's north flank.’
      edge, border, verge, boundary, margin, fringe, fringes, brink, bank, brim, rim, lip, perimeter, circumference, extremity, periphery, limit, outer limit, limits, bound, bounds
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  • 2The right or left side of a body of people such as an army, a naval force, or a soccer team.

    ‘the left flank of the Russian Third Army’
    • ‘For this reason the main forces of the army group were deployed at flanks.’
    • ‘Although numbering fewer than his own, Lind had the advantage of surprise and had engaged his forces from the western flank.’
    • ‘The troops who were to protect the western flank of the Russian army in Bulgaria suffered at the strategic fortress of Pleven, 60 km south of the Danube.’
    • ‘The left flank of II Corps was threatened with collapse and additional combat power was needed.’
    • ‘By this formula MacArthur could pick the time and place of battle, using air and naval forces to protect his flanks while concentrating combat power for the next thrust.’
    • ‘Small enveloping detachments and air assault forces were used to strike into the enemy flank and rear.’
    • ‘It will also support the main operations of the Army, i.e. those of the central Army Group and of the vital flank of the Southern Army Group.’
    • ‘Together with the French army on their right flank, the British penetrated seven miles on the first day of their attack and took 30,000 prisoners.’
    • ‘The 3rd and 2nd panzer groups were placed at the flanks of the Army Group Center as part of its assault groups.’
    • ‘By the evening of 28 August, German forces advancing on the flanks had closed a circle around Second Army.’
    • ‘The platoon in the unaffected pass began to reposition onto the flank of the enemy forces, which took approximately 20 minutes.’
    • ‘Hidden and bypassed infantry strong points were to conceal themselves and assail the flanks and rear of the German forces to further slow the German advance.’
    • ‘If needed the attacking side can strike against the flanks and the rear of the counterattacking enemy thus completing its destruction and moving on to the next stage, the pursuit.’
    • ‘Members of the buddy teams on the flanks of the formation must remember to keep their distance.’
    • ‘The troops attack from the march by performing enveloping and outflanking maneuvers and striking at the flanks and the rear.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, an advancing force, by taking advantage of terrain irregularities, can covertly penetrate the flanks and rear service areas of defending troops.’
    • ‘Airpower is needed to help protect the flanks of rapidly advancing armored and mechanized units, and for providing on-call fire support for their lead elements.’
    • ‘The cavalry - deployed in front of the army and on its flanks - would find the enemy and fix him in place.’
    • ‘Cavalry penetrated deeply into the enemy's flanks bypassing its defensive strong points and raided its rear.’
    • ‘An army must protect its flanks whether attacking or defending.’
    side, wing
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    1. 2.1 The right or left side of a gaming area such as a chessboard.
      • ‘When the opponent attacks on the flank, a counter in the center is usually very effective.’
    2. 2.2Rugby
      another term for wing forward
      • ‘He and Fielding, having recaptured a lot of his tackling skill after a lean period, reduced the pressure from the flank forwards.’
      • ‘He was considered by many experts to be one of the best flank forwards in the world.’
      • ‘At one point he popped up in the Scottish defence as an auxiliary flank forward, driving a heavy Argentine opponent clean away from the ruck in textbook fashion.’
      • ‘I remember that during that game my hero, W.B. Willie Welsh, who played flank forward for Scotland, went off.’
      • ‘He is built like a flank forward, likes to speak his mind and has the charisma of a natural-born leader.’


  • 1Be on each or on one side of.

    ‘the three defendants stood in the dock, flanked by police officers’
    ‘cherry-red sofas flanked the enormous fireplace’
    • ‘The focal point here is an attractive exposed brick fireplace with a solid fuel stove; this is flanked by wooden bookshelves and a fitted storage cupboard.’
    • ‘Two closets flanking the fireplace were cleverly disguised as built-in china cabinets.’
    • ‘Robinson was flanked in the dock by two security officers during the 10-minute hearing.’
    • ‘Every computer desk I've had until recently was flanked by bookshelves loaded with titles.’
    • ‘She smiled briefly at a court official as she was led into the 7ft long dock and was flanked by three female security officers.’
    • ‘But if it all gets too tranquil for your taste, you can always head back to the bright lights of Palma or the seaside resorts which flank it on both sides.’
    • ‘There was a buffet beneath one window, and china closets flanked the fireplace where a fire crackled behind the fender.’
    • ‘Seated in the dock, flanked by prison officers, he adopted his customary stance - shoulders slouched forward, head bowed.’
    • ‘The fireplace is flanked by fitted floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.’
    • ‘She was flanked on either side by detectives who have played a central role in the case.’
    • ‘It is well lit by two large windows and has as its focal point a marble fireplace flanked by built-in shelving units.’
    • ‘These days, he sits in the dock flanked by carts full of binders, which he frequently consults.’
    • ‘The living room features a 1924 original fireplace flanked by two vintage guitars, which Ty collects.’
    • ‘Central to the transformation was the creation of an inviting sitting area oriented toward a new gas fireplace flanked by tall bookshelves.’
    • ‘The cabinets flanking the fireplace hold movies that are presented on the opposite wall by a laptop projector.’
    • ‘Hulme, dressed in a striped pullover and jeans and Maguire who was wearing a bomber jacket and white t-shirt, were flanked in the dock by two police officers.’
    • ‘With his hands handcuffed behind his back, he was flanked in the dock by seven police officers wearing body armour and thick black gloves.’
    • ‘This area has a neutral decor and includes a sash window to the front and a white marble fireplace which is flanked by deep alcoves.’
    • ‘Two black leather sofas flanked a low table in front of the receptionist, and Wendy chose one.’
    • ‘On the far wall, between two circular portholes, was a red and gold fireplace, flanked by two armchairs.’
    edge, bound, line, border, fringe, skirt, be situated along
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    1. 1.1usually as adjective flanking Guard or strengthen (a military force or position) from the side.
      ‘massive walls, defended by four flanking towers’
      • ‘The other two took flanking positions as the group headed across the city.’
      • ‘I had moved out of the view of the two armed guards and they quickly moved to flanking positions either side of me.’
    2. 1.2usually as adjective flanking Attack down or from the sides, or rake with gunfire from the sides.
      ‘a flanking attack from the north-east’
      • ‘There were no breakouts, flanking attacks or sweeping maneuvers.’
      • ‘He had drawn a sword of his own and came at her, while his companion maneuvered for a flanking attack on the slayer.’
      • ‘Enemies duck, cover, flank your positions, and generally try to kill you as intensely as you try to kill them.’
      • ‘His Legion was currently deployed along the right flank, slowly moving towards the enemy base in hopes of flanking their position.’
      • ‘Suddenly, two Rebel batteries flanked the attacking Union troops and opened fire upon their exposed rear flank.’
      • ‘Supported by not very many Russians the Bulgarian volunteer detachment drove off dozens of frontal and flanking attacks by an enemy far superior in terms of manpower and equipment.’
      • ‘This left Herman to cover for any flanking attacks.’
      • ‘The risk, if those forces committed to the attack and lost, that the Rebels would flank and sweep the Union position was too great for McClellan to countenance.’
      • ‘The 1st Armoured Division, headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany, led the main flanking attack into Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War.’
      • ‘Corporal Bennett, flanking the enemy position, closed with and killed one enemy soldier with a knife.’
      • ‘When intercepted radio traffic provided details of the German plans, CCA promptly attacked with flanking fires and destroyed an entire company.’
      • ‘We sat around the kitchen table and planned out our strategy, various frontal attacks and flanking maneuvers we could make were considered.’
      • ‘‘We should go in with a flanking wing formation,’ Captain Tanaka said.’
      • ‘Bussey's action contributed to L Company's success in Yechon by preventing a right rear flanking attack.’
      • ‘The second fighter's attack you, Tice and his five-fighter squadron will flank from behind and intercept.’
      • ‘If he wants to attack, he will probably attempt a flanking maneuver.’
      • ‘Many warnings of a flanking attack were ignored at Hooker's headquarters - Lee was retreating.’
      • ‘A flanking attack on Antigonus' troops from Spartan light infantry stationed in the Oenus valley was thwarted by an aggressive cavalry attack led by the Achaean general Philopoemen.’
      • ‘They swept up from the main gallery on the great stairs, with a second prong up the middle west servants' stairs and a flanking attack through the dumbwaiter in the music library.’
      lateral, wing, flank, flanking
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  • in flank

    • At the side.

      ‘they were to hit the tail of the column in flank’
      • ‘Meanwhile the Roman infantry pushed back the Celts and Spaniards in Hannibal's centre, bunching inwards away from the Africans who were thus able to take them in flank.’


Late Old English, from Old French flanc, of Germanic origin.