Definition of fleece in English:



  • 1The woolly covering of a sheep or goat.

    ‘as the sheep came on board, we grabbed their long shaggy fleeces’
    [mass noun] ‘he clutched the ram by two handfuls of thick fleece’
    • ‘Goats feel the cold and dislike damp and wet as they don't have thick fleeces like sheep or tough hide like cows.’
    • ‘Nothing ever looked so sad as a sheep with a sodden fleece.’
    • ‘Removing the ewes' heavy fleeces at this stage makes lambing a cleaner, more efficient process and lets the newborn lambs find the ewes' teats more easily.’
    • ‘Sedbergh-based Farfield Mill is hoping those with an eye for plush interiors will warm to its new designer rugs and runners woven from the shaggy fleeces of Kendal Rough Fell sheep.’
    • ‘Often used to reclaim low fertility grazing, Soay are particularly unusual in that their fleece is plucked off rather than shorn.’
    • ‘The pool dates back to the 19th century and was used by farmers to clean the fleeces of sheep before they went off to market.’
    • ‘As he shears the rolls of thick wool around its neck, his forearm disappears beneath the fleece and his bicep again bulges.’
    • ‘I was confused by their fleeces turning a light brown colour until I realised they spend most of their time sitting by the gate on the soil rather than on the grass like the other sheep.’
    • ‘Classed as a primitive breed, they bear little resemblance to more common types of sheep with thick white fleeces.’
    • ‘To show the animal at its best in full wool involves a good cut and long hours preening the fleece free of straw, twigs and debris.’
    • ‘There were sheep grazing around it, tufts of their fleece caught on the lichens growing over its surface.’
    • ‘‘We wanted some Sheltand sheep because they have such beautiful fleeces,’ said Miss Wood.’
    • ‘Shorn of their six month fleeces at the Perth Royal Show, these four 12 month old goats had a winning fleece value of $190.’
    • ‘In a sustainable-use program, wild vicunas are herded, captured, shorn of their fleece, and released unharmed.’
    • ‘Sheep probably had more variety in the colour of their fleeces and nearly all would have had horns.’
    • ‘The tough, economic realities of hill farming could challenge an ambitious scheme to create carpets from the fleece of hardy Herdwick sheep.’
    • ‘Then keep sheep out of all streams, or wetland until their fleece is dry.’
    • ‘The higher the altitude and the colder the climate, the fleece of the goats is softer and thicker and conducive to be used for shawls.’
    • ‘Burdened with their heavy fleeces in the sweltering sunlight the sheep still managed to pull off their moment in the spotlight with panache.’
    hide, pelt
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1The amount of wool shorn from a sheep in a single piece at one time.
      • ‘She talks to local farmers about fleeces, the mills about yarns, the CSIRO about new techniques, and local knitters about stitches.’
      • ‘The heavy fleece shorn from these lambs is of exceptional quality and very, very soft.’
      • ‘Sure enough, some months later the two ladies had the fleece of wool spread out and were smoothing out the tangled mass with flat, wooden, large-toothed combs.’
      • ‘Images of farmers burning the fleeces of Herdwick sheep appear to be a thing of the past thanks to the burgeoning business in carpets made from the famous breed's wool.’
      • ‘Use a pallet underneath the fleeces and store away from walls.’
      • ‘The book is illustrated with pictures of textiles from local textile artist Lee Fitton, who uses fleeces from local sheep and transforms them into pictures.’
      • ‘Similarly wool fleeces are weighed at shearing time to help cull poor wool producers.’
      • ‘Before the hard times, she had simply sold her fleeces to the British Wool Board.’
      • ‘It looks like things went fairly well for you, but it says here you only brought in three fleeces and no lambs at the spring reckoning.’
      • ‘The horse is still a primary method of transport in Uruguay, and we spent a very long time astride ours, so were very thankful for the 15 sheep fleeces that make up the saddle.’
      • ‘If you ever wondered how the fleece of a sheep becomes the suit on your back, a new exhibition at Bradford Industrial Museum hopes to give you the answers.’
      • ‘Mr Taylforth said they wanted to spread the word about the National Trust scheme to encourage farmers to stop burning fleeces.’
      • ‘These padded garments, now known as gambesons, were made by sewing fleeces, raw wool or layers of woollen cloth between two layers of linen, felt or leather.’
      • ‘A Yorkshire smallholder kept the wolf from the door after her business was wiped out by foot and mouth by selling the fleeces of rare breed sheep over the Internet.’
      • ‘I rub my hair with oil pressed from hemp seed, oil from the crushed seed of flax, wool fat boiled from the shorn fleeces of ivory ewes.’
      • ‘There is a phrase ‘dyed in the wool’, suggesting that the fleece was dyed before spinning rather than afterwards.’
      • ‘The sweet milk and unmarked hides of our cattle, and the fine fleeces of our sheep, were highly valued by traders from lands far away.’
      • ‘The trust was offering 50p a fleece, about 10p less than the cost of shearing the sheep, but a lot better than nothing.’
      • ‘Possibly the most significant of all was Koorana's domination of the Shearing Class, in which a team of four goats are shorn and their fleeces then weighed and graded.’
      • ‘The fleece must also be checked over for strips of pink skin.’
      wool, coat, hair, fur, pelt
      View synonyms
  • 2A thing resembling a sheep's woolly covering, in particular.

    1. 2.1A soft warm fabric with a texture similar to sheep's wool, used as a lining material.
      • ‘Hats made of fleece and gloves or mittens lined with fleece are excellent choices for warmth and breathability.’
      • ‘How important a role does polar or micro fleece play in your outerwear line?’
      • ‘I hardly noticed the chill in the air through my jacket and layers of fleece as a light rain began to fall, and the liquid movement of my paddle made me feel completely at one with the water.’
      • ‘Fusing American Indian imagery with functional fleece, cotton and Lycra, she produces snow boarding hats, tops and coats in earthy shades.’
    2. 2.2A jacket or other garment made from a fleece fabric.
      • ‘He was unshaven, with a monobrow, red cheeks and a pale face and wore a red shirt, a fleece and dark trousers.’
      • ‘If you're out running around, or running in the park, you can throw on a sweatshirt, throw on the fleece, and kick back.’
      • ‘I got soaked when the wind changed, having only my shirt and fleece on.’
      • ‘In the chilly evenings, ridiculously seated on striped, collapsible beach chairs that blew over the second we got up, we cooked and ate outside wrapped in warm fleeces and woolly hats.’
      • ‘The man he was with was wearing a grey fleece and dark baseball cap.’
      • ‘He said the robber, who was wearing a grey hooded fleece with a dark woollen scarf tied around his face, ran off in the direction of St Saviourgate.’
      • ‘My pair of sleek, stylish and always sexy Lycra bike shorts that I was sporting only weeks ago have been traded in for sweatpants and a fleece.’
      • ‘He is described as white and was wearing a burgundy jacket or fleece, with white trainers and a baseball cap.’
      • ‘Sales of women's fleeces are up 40% and men's vests by 32%.’
      • ‘I was absolutely freezing cold (no heating turned on at the moment) despite two fleeces and two pairs of socks on top of normal clothing.’
      • ‘‘It will be their summer in August, but we've been told to take fleeces as well as swimming costumes, and all in a small rucksack,’ she said.’
      • ‘He was last seen wearing a blue and white striped polo shirt, green zip-up fleece, navy track-suit bottoms and navy trainers.’
      • ‘He was ‘scruffy’, wearing a dark jacket, grey fleece, hat and khaki trousers.’
      • ‘Through the shirt, the fleece and the jacket, can you still see the outline of my belly?’
      • ‘Shuttleworth's main concerns, meanwhile, will be the environment and that ubiquitous garment, the fleece.’
      • ‘He was wearing a grey fleece, jeans, trainers and a scarf around his neck.’
      • ‘Then the following day Tessa was taken at exactly 4.20 pm after passers-by spotted a lad in a fawn fleece and baseball cap leaning over her outside the shop.’
      • ‘For the first time, the contract will involve the supply of the entire Garda uniform, including a blouson jacket with zip-in fleece, shirts, trousers and boots.’
      • ‘He is 30 minutes late and hardly cuts an imposing figure, dressed shabbily in an old pair of tracksuit bottoms and trainers, polo shirt and fleece.’
      • ‘Why not treat them to a club drill top, fleece or polo shirt?’
    3. 2.3Heraldry A representation of a fleece suspended from a ring.


  • 1informal Obtain a great deal of money from (someone), typically by overcharging or swindling them.

    ‘money that authorities say he fleeced from well-to-do acquaintances’
    • ‘It is about fleecing people blind and taking money on any pretext without any real sense of sensibility around it whatsoever.’
    • ‘At the moment, there is so much exploitation by so-called landlords and dishonest estate agents out to fleece people desperate for rented shelter.’
    • ‘It wasn't done for love, only to fleece morons out of their money.’
    • ‘Whilst I found it all a bit depressing to see yet another way to fleece people of their money, my seven year old really likes it.’
    • ‘This type of spam - which fleeces people by tricking them into calling a premium-rate number - is no longer a relatively small-scale concern, claimed the watchdog.’
    • ‘Her appearance as the conwoman trying to fleece lovelorn Fred of his money brought a variety of further TV offers.’
    • ‘The Government is deliberately fleecing young people by charging them an outrageous poll tax on their first home.’
    • ‘Doorstep callers are being banned from parts of the region in an attempt to stop elderly and vulnerable people being fleeced of their cash.’
    • ‘Bradford MP Gerry Sutcliffe has launched a campaign to fight crooks and scamsters who are taking advantage of the latest technology to fleece innocent people.’
    • ‘The fans are fleeced out of their hard-earned money.’
    • ‘This whole operation seems to have been designed to fleece people out of their cash one way or another, so if we can prove that money didn't go to us we're in the clear.’
    • ‘Should I tell him that he is crazy or should I say nothing and let her fleece him of his money?’
    • ‘Both pieces portray the wealthy as guilty, eager to please, easily fleeced babies swaddled by all that money.’
    • ‘One must suspect that the aim of introducing charges is not to promote appreciation of art or to make art more profitable, but to fleece tourists in order to finance council extravagance.’
    • ‘A disgraced former building society finance director, who fleeced the company of more than £100,000 to cover up a string of thefts from a charity where he was treasurer, is facing Christmas behind bars.’
    • ‘He believes passionately that operators are fleecing the tourists and killing the Greek tradition of open warmth and hospitality.’
    • ‘Hoaxers preyed on the trusting nature of a woman in her nineties to fleece her of more than £60,000 in a cruel con trick lasting 10 years.’
    • ‘Traditionally, music companies have fleeced people who like to buy soundtrack CDs even more than they have fleeced people who like to buy other CDs.’
    • ‘And then White walked off with millions, while investors were fleeced and the workers discarded.’
    • ‘I feel a measure of guilt, though I know how easily fleeced tourists tend to be in these parts.’
  • 2literary Cover as if with a fleece.

    ‘the sky was half blue, half fleeced with white clouds’


Old English flēos, flēs; related to Dutch vlies and German Vlies.