Definition of flesh in English:



  • 1The soft substance consisting of muscle and fat that is found between the skin and bones of an animal or a human.

    ‘she grabbed Anna's arm, her fingers sinking into the flesh’
    • ‘Deeper in the dark glade, there are bones, countless bones, scraps of flesh and skin, cloth, and bodies.’
    • ‘Pieces of skin, flesh, bone falling to the ground in flakes of dust.’
    • ‘The blade cut through bones and skin and flesh, and slashed the ground as it cut through.’
    • ‘The spirit of psychoanalysis is not confined to the skin, flesh, bones and marrow of psychoanalysis, but it is also not apart from them.’
    • ‘His blade homed in, sinking into flesh and grating past bone.’
    • ‘I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - I might even be said to possess a mind.’
    • ‘However mostly in these classes I am trying to achieve a sense of flesh and bones, weightiness or muscle structure.’
    • ‘A second later he bit down and allowed his fangs to sink into my soft flesh.’
    • ‘The two went down in a clash of flesh and muscle and bone, the two ripping at each other for every opening possible.’
    • ‘Then the skeletons, stubborn bits of flesh and muscle still clinging to the bones, move on to the bug room.’
    • ‘Jim felt the pulsing of the sun as its heat, magnified by the window it was pouring through, met with soft flesh and willing muscle.’
    • ‘The murderous roar mocked their fragile armor of skin, flesh, bones.’
    • ‘I'm kind of pleased that I can feel some soft flesh there on his tummy, over the rock-solid muscle.’
    • ‘And where there was once an appealing covering of soft flesh, there was now hard bone.’
    • ‘What do you imagine will happen when Jesus raises us all from the dead, putting muscle and flesh on dry bare bones?’
    • ‘He believed that the ‘changeover’ from animal to human flesh was most often accidental.’
    • ‘He reached out and grabbed his wife's shoulder here, pushing his fingers into the soft crevice of flesh over bone.’
    • ‘Yet the end result, after removing bone, muscle and flesh, was incredibly attractive.’
    muscle, tissue, muscle tissue, meat, brawn
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    1. 1.1The flesh of an animal, regarded as food.
      ‘the food an animal eats will affect the taste and texture of its flesh’
      [in combination] ‘a flesh-eater’
      • ‘Its sweet, delicate, flaky flesh makes this fish a prize catch.’
      • ‘The fish is famous for its tender and tasty flesh.’
      • ‘The caviar is cleaned to prevent spoilage and then packed up; the rest of the fish is sold for flesh.’
      • ‘Glamorgan sausages contain neither flesh nor fish nor fowl, but cheese and leeks.’
      • ‘Small black spots, resembling ground pepper flakes, are visible in the fish flesh.’
      • ‘After that time, you can take a peek, and check delicately that the fish flesh flakes easily.’
      • ‘Flatfish flesh changes as the fish begin to roe at this time, the consequence being that the fish are thinner and softer, and not good to cook.’
      • ‘The central part of this dish is tilapia, a fresh water fish with white flesh and a flaky texture.’
      • ‘Sea bass is a silvery grey fish with succulent white flesh.’
      • ‘The excitement over, the fish gutted and flesh drying on deck, everyone returned to rest.’
      • ‘Place the dried flesh in a food processor and add the lemon juice, yoghurt, dill and oil.’
      • ‘The term ‘vegetarian’ has only been around for about 150 years but abstinence from flesh, fish and fowl is as old as man himself.’
      • ‘Use grilled, roasted or steamed vegetables, minced lamb, beef, pork or chicken, and the cooked or raw flesh of almost any fish.’
      • ‘Leading up to Easter is Lent, a period of penance lasting forty days during which only one meal a day was allowed and flesh and fish were forbidden.’
      • ‘We wanted to find out exactly what type of methylmercury was present in fish flesh.’
      • ‘Morays then eat these fish and their flesh becomes toxic.’
      • ‘The effects of tetrodotoxin are well documented in Japan, where the highly prized dish fugu is prepared from the raw flesh of the puffer fish.’
      • ‘As of today, I am no longer eating fish, since the smell in my kitchen reminds me that fish is flesh.’
      • ‘Lake sturgeon have been fished for their flesh and their oil as well as for their caviar.’
      • ‘A ‘vegetarian’ is a person who does not eat meat, fish, foul or any food derived from the flesh of animals.’
    2. 1.2The pulpy substance of a fruit or vegetable, especially the part that is eaten.
      ‘halve the avocados and scrape out the flesh’
      • ‘Removing the stalk would create openings in the skin of the fruit, enabling the chemical to contaminate the fruit's flesh.’
      • ‘The yellow or pinkish flesh contains edible, crunchy little seeds.’
      • ‘She hadn't felt hungry before, but her stomach quaked in defiance to its emptiness as her eyes touched the fruit's flawless red flesh.’
      • ‘If you timed it right you could spend a good part of the day out of the sun with cool pulpy grape flesh oozing between your toes.’
      • ‘It has a core or seed of truth, but no flesh of the fruit.’
      • ‘She peeled back the cucumber's skin in long strips, watching as green exposed the naked, white vegetable flesh.’
      • ‘Bright flies were embedded in the stringy pulp, the glistening flesh of the fruit.’
      • ‘The lower oil content of the fruit flesh confers a slightly watery, almost sweet taste not found in the other two botanical races.’
      • ‘Honey locust trees did have a kind of fruit, a pod that contained sweet flesh, edible pulp.’
      • ‘Cracks in sweet cherry fruits are shallow or deep oblong wounds in the fruit flesh.’
      • ‘Cut a ripe kiwi fruit in half and squeeze it over the squid, letting both the juice and flesh of the fruit drop into the bowl.’
      • ‘In fact, the creamy white flesh is barely edible; it's tasteless and slimy.’
      • ‘Put the onions, garlic, aubergine flesh, the lemon juice and seasoning into a food processor and whiz until it begins to become a purée.’
      • ‘The dark background provides an effective relief for the juicy white flesh of the mangosteen fruit.’
      • ‘The thick flesh makes the fruit suitable for stuffing and baking.’
      • ‘The white flesh of the fruit consists of numerous segments, mostly seedless.’
      • ‘Place the pepper flesh with the nuts, basil, garlic and cheese in a food processor and whizz.’
      • ‘The ripe, red, pulpy flesh of the melons stands in with sickening authenticity for the wasted tissue of the bodies of the wounded men.’
      • ‘The flesh contains tiny, edible seeds and you can even eat the skin.’
      • ‘At each harvest the fresh weight and dry matter content of fruit flesh and stones were measured after peeling and stoning.’
      pulp, soft part, fleshy part, marrow, meat
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    3. 1.3The skin or surface of the human body with reference to its color, appearance, or sensual properties.
      ‘she gasped as the cold water hit her flesh’
      • ‘This Skin Firming Moisturiser with seaweed extract and caffeine promises to firm up flabby flesh and reduce the appearance of cellulite.’
      • ‘There was the sound of flesh hitting other flesh and a body falling to the ground.’
      • ‘No flesh from their bodies showed, it was all bronze armor.’
      • ‘His skin had felt deliciously cool against her heated flesh as his hard body moved against hers.’
      • ‘She trembled and shuddered against his body, the cold flesh felt through the tunic that he wore.’
      • ‘The otter swam around her barely clothed body and tickled her flesh.’
      • ‘This self-tanner for the body gives even lily-white flesh like mine a healthy shimmery glow.’
      • ‘He was painfully aware of his bare flesh as bodies pressed around him once more.’
      • ‘I felt his lips graze the tender flesh of my neck.’
      • ‘That was the sensation as flesh met flesh, as her body pressed into his and then the contact was gone.’
      • ‘His eroticism and his understanding of the female form urged him to include more surfaces of flesh than can be seen from one point of view…’
    4. 1.4The human body and its physical needs and desires, especially as contrasted with the mind or the soul.
      ‘I have never been one to deny the pleasures of the flesh’
      • ‘In the major part of his teaching he clearly says the flesh is only the physical body, and it is the body which is the ‘seat of sin’.’
      • ‘The old man once walked in trespasses and sins according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.’
      • ‘With crew members leading a lonely existence and having to stay away from their family for days together, they are tempted to give in to the pleasures of the flesh.’
      • ‘‘Death takes the flesh, but the soul lives on, for that part of you is eternal’, he taught the woman.’
      • ‘Being at home with three children (two still ill) means evenings are given over entirely to pleasures of the flesh.’
      • ‘At the same time his work celebrated (under the cover of classical mythology) the sensuous pleasures of the flesh.’
      • ‘You enjoy luxury, sensuality, and pleasures of the flesh.’
      • ‘In contrast to the previous evening the pleasures of the flesh were much in evidence.’
      • ‘I hereby renounce all desires of the flesh, especially ones that involve spatulas.’
      • ‘Human nature urges us to satisfy the natural desires of the flesh.’
      • ‘When not reminded, he did not miss the pleasures of the flesh much.’
      • ‘Or the very kind of conflict between the flesh and the soul, was something they believed, and so you would believe it too.’
      the body, the human body, human nature, man's physical nature, physicality, corporeality, carnality, animality
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    5. 1.5A light brownish pink colour.
      ‘acrylic paints in flesh, red, and pink’
      • ‘I find colourizing an area in a flesh colour is often insufficient.’
      • ‘As a side effect, the flesh tones look a few shades too ruddy.’


  • 1[no object] Put weight on.

    ‘he had fleshed out to a solid 220 pounds’
    • ‘As his body has filled out, his personality has fleshed out with it.’
    • ‘However, in the previous months, Terri had gained a little weight, the hollows of her face and her neck fleshing out.’
    put on weight, gain weight, get heavier, grow fat, grow fatter, fatten up, get fat, fill out
    thicken, widen, broaden, expand, spread out
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    1. 1.1[with object]Add more details to something that exists only in a draft or outline form.
      ‘the theorists have fleshed out a variety of scenarios’
      • ‘As a director he fleshes out his own screenplays with lights, cameras and action, but any shooting script is a bare-bones, incomplete thing.’
      • ‘I think I was under the impression that I was going to come back to it and flesh it out in more detail.’
      • ‘Only in a few instances does he flesh his observations out in detail.’
      • ‘We've worked really hard at fleshing out the past of the character without giving away too much, and have put all the dream memories in chronological order.’
      • ‘It refutes clichés by making them specific and adding details, fleshing them out into their own incidents.’
      • ‘She relays these stories, and fleshes out what she has discovered about her family, by going back to old records, and travelling across Canada to conduct research.’
      • ‘I'm fleshing out characters at the moment, and their individual storylines are coming together quite nicely.’
      • ‘The story of their romance is not fleshed out very well.’
      • ‘Changes are natural and inevitable as the proposal is fleshed out; they can improve and strengthen the plan without affecting its integrity.’
      • ‘During the previous three years, little bits and pieces of the characters were fleshed out and expanded beyond simple, one-dimensional characters.’
      • ‘Now a survey detailing ground levels, boundaries and drainage will be carried out so that outline plans can be fleshed out in to detailed designs.’
      • ‘So, for four hours she sat thinking about Harry and fleshing out all the characters in the book.’
      • ‘While the investigator fleshes out the complex, engaging character of the woman, the film draws out the equally complex and engaging character of the detective.’
      • ‘However, as his campaign has been fleshed out and his positions, strategic instincts and political ability have become clear, I am even more enthusiastic about him.’
      • ‘Further details of the move will be fleshed out at a press conference today.’
      • ‘Questions remain as to how exactly this will be done as the Home Office shied away from fleshing out the detail yesterday.’
      • ‘Penn does a marvelous job in fleshing out the little idiosyncratic elements of his character.’
      • ‘I hope that fleshing out the mystique hasn't detracted at all from its allure.’
      • ‘Biography fleshes out the daily realities of living as aliens in your own land and provides insight into indigenous history over the entire 20th century.’
      • ‘But until he fleshes out his one-page sketch, I, for one, cannot see what else he can mean by a ‘top down’ approach to economic management.’
      elaborate on, add to, build on, add flesh to, add detail to, expatiate on, supplement, reinforce, augment, extend, broaden, develop, fill out, enlarge on, embellish, embroider, enhance, amplify, refine, improve, polish, perfect
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  • 2British [with object] Give (a hound or hawk) a piece of the flesh of game that has been killed in order to incite it.

    1. 2.1literary Initiate (someone) in bloodshed or warfare.
      ‘he fleshed his troops by indulging them with enterprises against the enemy's posts’
  • 3[with object] Remove the flesh adhering to (a skin or hide)

    ‘after fleshing, the hide is soaked again’


  • all flesh

    • All human and animal life.

      • ‘The bluebottle, Calliphora vomitoria, comes from the vanitas tradition in painting, of including a telling detail such as a worm eaten apple or a falling rose, as a reminder that all flesh is grass.’
      • ‘In the incarnation we learn of the love of God for his creation; in the crucifixion we learn of the judgement of God upon all flesh; and in the resurrection we learn of God's will for a new world.’
      • ‘They were, we are, all flesh, and then we are all meat.’
      • ‘And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.’
      • ‘And all flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.’
      • ‘‘for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof’ (Leviticus 17: 14 KJV)’
      • ‘Toscanini conducts with an iron grip on proceedings with the massive ‘Behold, all flesh is as the grass’ sounding pretty foreboding and penetrating at the same time.’
      • ‘The glory of God will be revealed, and all flesh together will see that the mouth of God has spoken.’
      • ‘As for the dirt, I was always under the impression that all flesh tastes the same to demons.’
      • ‘It goes on to say, ‘Blessed are You, Lord, Who heals all flesh and acts wondrously.’’
      • ‘And the Lord spoke to Noah and said, ‘In one year, I am going to make it rain and cover the whole earth with water until all flesh is destroyed.’’
      • ‘Most surely old age is a disappointment if we have clung to this world as our highest good; for life is short, all flesh is as grass, all glory of man as the flower.’
      • ‘If chance be the Father of all flesh, disaster is his rainbow in the sky’
      • ‘‘I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest’.’
      • ‘No manuscripts could possibly have been found, even were they buried far beneath the rubble, for it was obvious that a tremendous heat had once suffused the entire region, one that would have consumed all flesh and wood and leather.’
      • ‘And the LORD said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.’
      • ‘Against a culture that is set against nature and renders all flesh meaningless, the Mother of God is still able to proclaim God's presence within the blood and the milk, the cells and the atoms, of the material creation.’
      • ‘From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the LORD.’
      • ‘Besides, in Genesis 9, God promised that He would never again send a flood to destroy all flesh and cover the earth - the rainbow being the sign of that promise.’
      • ‘But there's that fourth dimension, time, and on that fourth dimensional axis, all flesh is one, it's all connected.’
  • go the way of all flesh

    • Die or come to an end.

      • ‘From time to time they will crash not predictably but randomly, like a flood or a bad harvest- and your data will go the way of all flesh.’
      • ‘And in fact that was almost certainly why it went the way of all flesh.’
      • ‘When we go the way of all flesh, we should request not to be buried with boots.’
      • ‘For years I made do with a tape copy after the original vinyl went the way of all flesh.’
      • ‘When published, they create a sudden stir, remain best-sellers for a few weeks and then go down the way of all flesh.’
      • ‘Few are rewarded with true freedom in this way; most go the way of all flesh in the ruthless killing sprees that usually follow a successful revolution.’
      • ‘His second marriage also went the way of all flesh.’
      • ‘Hopes have been consistently dashed as companies that betokened efforts to compete with Hollywood went the way of all flesh.’
      • ‘My iPod went the way of all flesh (and has successfully been brought back to life).’
      • ‘Well, another year is going the way of all flesh, but never fear, another, brand new one is on the way.’
      pass away, pass on, lose one's life, depart this life, expire, breathe one's last, draw one's last breath, meet one's end, meet one's death, lay down one's life, be no more, perish, be lost, go the way of the flesh, go the way of all flesh, go to glory, go to one's last resting place, go to meet one's maker, cross the great divide, cross the styx
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  • in the flesh

    • In person rather than via a telephone, a movie, the written word, or other means.

      ‘they decided that they should meet Alexander in the flesh’
      • ‘Then they see me in the flesh and think I have lost too much weight.’
      • ‘I never saw him in the flesh, but I saw him on the TV on countless occasions.’
      • ‘She is a fascinating, beguiling woman who I feel very privileged to have met in the flesh.’
      • ‘He knew as much about angels as the next person, but he'd never met one in the flesh, as it were.’
      • ‘I can't banish the thought that people would only be disappointed to meet me in the flesh.’
      • ‘She also knows all the words to his songs, to meet him in the flesh.’
      • ‘The Fan Faire was a rare opportunity for them to meet in the flesh.’
      • ‘What could be better than having the raunchy Anastacia live and in the flesh?’
      • ‘Blackburn Rovers fans can meet one of their heroes in the flesh at a special signing session this afternoon.’
      • ‘At any rate, it turns out that I have recently met another blogger, in the flesh.’
      • ‘Anyone who met him in the flesh will know what an inspiring character he was.’
      • ‘Reminds me though, I once had a lunch with a blind colleague whom I'd spoken to on the phone a lot but not met in the flesh before.’
      • ‘Some television personalities look more ordinary when you meet them in the flesh.’
      • ‘There are stacks of people who have e-mailed me or commented over the last year or so who I would love to meet in the flesh.’
      • ‘Not only does he not want journalists to meet people in the flesh, he will actively discourage them from doing any such thing.’
      • ‘The plan is that gamers will have a chance to meet and talk in the flesh, as well as play each other online.’
      • ‘When he meets her again in the flesh on a car park after a gig he discovers she is in fact a ghost who has been dead for 300 years.’
      • ‘It was a splendid reminder of just how great live music is and how much better Quo are in the flesh.’
      • ‘It's very tough to make real judgments about people if you don't see them in the flesh.’
      • ‘My friends use it, my family use it, there are people I've known for years in the flesh who know me by no other tag.’
      in person, before one's eyes, in front of one, before one's very eyes, in one's presence
      in real life, in actual life, live
      physically, bodily, in bodily form, in human form, incarnate
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  • lose flesh

    • archaic Become thinner.

      • ‘And by squeezing out successively higher rungs of the lower and middle classes, our city's own public life loses flesh.’
  • make someone's flesh crawl (or creep)

    • another way of saying make someone's skin crawl (see skin)
      • ‘Something about either the cover or the description on the packaging made my flesh crawl.’
      • ‘Even in a movie with basically no dialogue, she made my flesh crawl.’
      • ‘Ashes that used to be paper were spread all over the riveted metal floor, which was rusted beyond recognition, warped, misshapen, scattered with overturned furniture remains, and made our flesh crawl.’
      • ‘His object, between now and May 5, is to make the nation 's flesh creep.’
      • ‘I don't know about you but it made my flesh crawl.’
      • ‘It is the first business book that has made my flesh crawl, not because of some macabre metaphor, but because of the theory.’
      • ‘The way that the screeching jump also has sounds of a whip or a rope moving quickly through the air made my flesh crawl.’
      • ‘His hands were an unearthly cold that made her flesh crawl.’
      • ‘The film effectively disturbed me in places, while its effects succeeded in making my flesh crawl here and there.’
      • ‘Just the thought of his fingers on her skin made her flesh crawl, and she hoped that she would never meet him again.’
  • one flesh

    • Used to refer to the spiritual and physical union of two people in a relationship, especially marriage.

      ‘my body is his, his is mine: one flesh’
      • ‘So I talked about Eve being made from Adam, thus being one flesh and the basis of marriage/family, as Jesus taught.’
      • ‘Children express the two in one flesh of marriage.’
      • ‘In a typically vivid image, Taylor summarizes his view that in the one flesh of marriage the differences between man and woman are almost overcome.’
      • ‘As St. Paul wrote, ‘The two shall become one flesh,’ indicating that in a true and complete marriage absolutely nothing is held back from one's spouse.’
      • ‘But we must remember the Lord's stress that marriage is the union of one flesh.’
      • ‘Man and wife, by their marriage union, become one flesh; Christ and true believers, by this union, become one spirit.’
      • ‘The Bible than says, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’’
      • ‘I believe many marriages fail because people pull in their own directions, and not as the one flesh God says they are.’
      • ‘Some students will readily conclude that this rule of law rejects the biblical view of marriage as two in one flesh and the family as an integrated moral unit.’
      • ‘God likens this to the marriage relationship where two people become one flesh.’
  • put flesh on (the bones of) something

    • Add more details to something that exists only in a draft or outline form.

      ‘he has yet to put flesh on his “big idea.”’
      • ‘The bias is historical, the anecdotes putting flesh on the raw bones of the past.’
      • ‘It was one of those pieces of legislation - a policy which was introduced very quickly, and we are now putting flesh on the bones of that particular policy.’
      • ‘But this powerful novel forces the reader on board, putting flesh on the bare bones of that well-known story.’
      • ‘Peter Connolly of the Gallery Café puts flesh on the bones of that notion of difference.’
      • ‘With that in mind, Mr Prescott was putting flesh on the bones of devolution proposals for those in commerce, trade, manufacturing and business.’
      • ‘Much more scholarly research will need to be carried out to put flesh on the bones of this theory.’
      • ‘Even so, it puts flesh on the frail bones of his Utopia.’
      • ‘The National Museum of Scotland is putting flesh on the bones of the tale this summer, with a major exhibition that looks at both the family's public and private life.’
      • ‘There were a lot of details left to be sorted out to put flesh on the bones.’
      • ‘The play puts flesh on the bones of these divergent characters, as differences in social status gradually yielded to grudging admiration.’
      elaborate on, add to, build on, add flesh to, add detail to, expatiate on, supplement, reinforce, augment, extend, broaden, develop, fill out, enlarge on, embellish, embroider, enhance, amplify, refine, improve, polish, perfect
      View synonyms
  • put on flesh

    • Put on weight.

      • ‘The hope is, however, that this skeleton will put on flesh as time goes by.’
      • ‘Confined to factory farms and genetically manipulated so that they put on flesh fast, their legs and hearts get so heavy in a few weeks that they can barely move to reach for food and water.’
  • sins of the flesh

    • humorous, archaic Sins related to physical indulgence, especially sexual gratification.

      • ‘He absorbs the corruption, the filth, the sins of the flesh, the manager giving him orders now drunk at the bar with his arms around two giggling blondes.’
      • ‘He was known as the epitome of arrogance, a man with the highest regard for his own art, an iron will and a taste for what St Peter would regard as the sins of the flesh.’
      • ‘The cross of Christ dealt with us, and the sins of the flesh, and the life of Christ is made available to indwell, rebuild and empower us.’
      • ‘The sins of the flesh - lust and gluttony - thus ‘devour the whole man’ like a monstrous mouth, so that the sinner's body is assimilated to that of the monstrous Behemoth.’
      • ‘But a PR sweetie of my acquaintance, based in North Yorkshire, is suffering from the amazing safeguards imposed by her employers to protect the world from the sins of the flesh.’
      • ‘The trouble was that despite being in holy orders they were easily tempted by the sins of the flesh.’
      • ‘That's what the aristocrats of 18 th-century Venice did when they celebrated Carnevale, their last chance to indulge the sins of the flesh before Lent.’
      • ‘The Church is not only about forbidding the use of contraception and warning against the sins of the flesh.’
      • ‘It was seen as a blissful cornucopia of earthly blessings, easily accessible high-quality sins of the flesh, and delights of the spirit.’
      • ‘It's a city that has depended on sins of the flesh for its economic lifeblood (the bars, the casinos, the strip joints), but it is also a city that confesses its sins.’


Old English flǣsc, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vlees and German Fleisch.