Definition of flay in English:



[with object]
  • 1Strip the skin off (a corpse or carcass)

    ‘the captured general was flayed alive’
    • ‘A young man is suspended naked from a tree, prior to being flayed alive for daring to make music more harmonious than Apollo's.’
    • ‘Some might argue that a man being impaled, flayed alive and left to bake in the desert could hardly be categorized as wholesomely edifying entertainment.’
    • ‘The now ex-king heard rumours of the impending showdown and when the group arrived had them arrested, ordered they be flayed alive and flogged to death.’
    • ‘She shall be transfixed to your Temple doors and flayed alive!’
    • ‘‘And you'd find out what it's like to be flayed alive,’ I responded with an unnatural calm.’
    • ‘There were even some claiming that a traitor's death was too good for her, that she should be executed in the old way: flayed alive and then thrown into the sea.’
    • ‘The corpses had not been flayed or dismembered in any way, but succumbed to their stab wounds and blood loss.’
    • ‘If I had the power, I would have every single one of these inhuman monsters responsible for this travesty flayed alive.’
    • ‘His carcass was also flayed, the skin torn into pieces and sold as souvenirs.’
    • ‘He was flayed and his skin mounted on the door as a warning.’
    • ‘It seemed almost as if he was being flayed alive and his flesh seared away, layer by layer.’
    • ‘Pärt was looking at Anish Kapoor's immense sculpture ‘Marsyas’, named after the Greek satyr who was flayed alive after losing a musical contest with Apollo.’
    • ‘The witch of this city hall scandal was being flayed alive.’
    • ‘On he goes, pausing to read his poems by pictures of the screaming faces of The Skinned Man, flayed alive as a sacrifice by Aztec priests, and a skull from The Day of the Dead.’
    • ‘It shows a man being flayed alive - slowly, methodically and with increasing savagery.’
    • ‘They said they would kill me, flay me and a lot of other things.’
    • ‘The men moved in among the densely packed animals, smashed skulls with five-foot hickory clubs and flayed the twitching corpses.’
    • ‘It's yet another reason why they all should be crucified and flayed alive.’
    • ‘Employees who do not comply will be flayed alive and slowly chopped into little pieces.’
    • ‘His implication is that therefore they deserved to be mistreated - starved, beaten, flayed alive - but the key point of those who object to torture is that no-one deserves to be treated like that.’
    skin, strip the skin off
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    1. 1.1 Strip (the skin) off a corpse or carcass.
      ‘she flayed the white skin from the flesh’
      • ‘Some of them had their skins flayed off them and their flesh was flung to the dogs.’
      • ‘They had used their newly-designed, precise instruments of torture to flay away skin, then the drugs to rebuild it into this monstrosity, this hideous pattern of nerveless layers.’
      • ‘In some cases the corpse has been flayed to display the muscles and internal organs.’
      • ‘Death squads are operating with official sanction and running their own torture centres where detainees have their skin flayed from their bones.’
      • ‘This horrible spectacle included having his skin flayed with iron combs.’
      • ‘Acerbus ripped him apart, flaying his skin and then breaking his bones.’
      • ‘The man didn't have time to scream as the flesh was flayed from his body by the hundreds of razor sharp blades.’
      • ‘They seem insignificant among the bodies burnt to charcoal, or flayed to muscle and skin, half covered in rags, scenes of a terrible and continuing horror.’
      • ‘Had the child before her been real, she would have flayed the skin from her bones with a thousand hungry spiders.’
      • ‘Don't you want to see their skin flayed from their backs and made into tasteful table lamps?’
      • ‘For instance, God did not tell Abraham to flay Isaac's skin and beat him mercilessly before sacrificing him.’
      • ‘The skin and eyes look like they've been flayed off a living subject.’
      • ‘He would flay the flesh of unresurrected corpses and use the skin to make lampshades and chair covers and clothes.’
      • ‘Her clothes were flayed, her exposed skin covered by hundreds of small, ripping bites.’
    2. 1.2 Whip or beat (someone) so harshly as to remove their skin.
      ‘he flayed them viciously with a branch’
      • ‘The enemy stood shocked as the heavy weapon flayed him open, and he fell to the ground.’
      • ‘They should flog him and flay him if they so desire.’
      • ‘One held him in a firm grasp, while the guards watched from the near; and Viro faced the butte, his back naked, as the woman flayed him again and again with a horse-whip.’
      • ‘The creatures seemed upset and began to flay the skin on their backs with flails and whips they carried in holsters around the thick trunk of their neck.’
      hit, strike, batter, thump, hammer, punch, knock, thrash, pound, pummel, slap, smack, crack, thwack, cuff, buffet, maul, pelt, drub, rain blows on
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    3. 1.3 Criticize severely and brutally.
      ‘he flayed the government for not moving fast enough on economic reform’
      • ‘Could a professional game critic ever make the transition to game designer without having the games he/she produces flayed alive by the gaming press?’
      • ‘Where I part company with many of the American critics who have flayed the film, is in their assumption that this is a thriller whose subject is murder, and which fails to deliver suspense before the killer is unmasked.’
      • ‘If this is something he has started doing because he is captain (remember, he was flayed in the 2003 World Cup for doing it), then it is a very curious development.’
      criticize, attack, berate, censure, condemn, denounce, denigrate, revile, castigate, pillory, belabour, lambaste, savage, pull to pieces, tear to pieces, find fault with, run down, abuse
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Old English flēan, of Germanic origin; related to Middle Dutch vlaen.