Pronunciation Noun

flesh (uncountable)

  1. The soft tissue of the body, especially muscle and fat.
    • 1918, Fannie Farmer, Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, Chapter XVII: Poultry and Game:
      The flesh of chicken, fowl, and turkey has much shorter fibre than that of ruminating animals, and is not intermingled with fat,—the fat always being found in layers directly under the skin, and surrounding the intestines.
  2. The skin of a human or animal.
  3. (by extension) Bare arms, bare legs, bare torso.
  4. Animal tissue regarded as food; meat (but sometimes excluding fish).
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, [http://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/cme/MaloryWks2/1:17.2?rgn=div2;view=fulltext chapter ij], in Le Morte Darthur, book XV:
      Thenne syr launcelot sayd / fader what shalle I do / Now sayd the good man / I requyre yow take this hayre that was this holy mans and putte it nexte thy skynne / and it shalle preuaylle the gretely / syr and I wille doo hit sayd sir launcelot / Also I charge you that ye ete no flesshe as longe as ye be in the quest of the sancgreal / nor ye shalle drynke noo wyne / and that ye here masse dayly and ye may doo hit
    • c.1530s, William Tyndale, Tyndale Bible, Leviticus, 7, xix-xxi,
      The flesh that twycheth any vnclene thinge shall not be eaten. but burnt with fire:and all that be clene in their flesh, maye eate flesh.
      Yf any soule eate of the flesh of the peaceofferynges, that pertayne vnto the Lorde and hys vnclennesse yet apon him, the same soule shall perisshe from amonge his peoole[sic]. ¶ Moreouer yf a soule twych any vnclene thinge, whether it be the vnclennesse of man or of any vnclene beest or any abhominacion that is vnclene: ad the eate of the flesh of the peaceoffrynges whiche pertayne vnto the Lord, that soule shall perissh from his people.
    • 2018, Raj Patel and Jason W Moore, How the chicken nugget became the true symbol of our era ↗ in The Guardian, 8 May
      Chicken is already the most popular meat in the US, and is projected to be the planet’s favourite flesh by 2020.
  5. The human body as a physical entity.
    • c.1530s, William Tyndale, Tyndale Bible, Leviticus, 6, x,
      And the preast shall put on his lynen albe and his lynen breches apon his flesh, and take awaye the asshes whiche the fire of the burntsacrifice in the altare hath made, and put them besyde the alter,
  6. (religion) The mortal body of a human being, contrasted with the spirit or soul.
    • 1769, King James Bible, Oxford Standard text, Galatians, 5, xvii,
      For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
    • 1929 January, Bassett Morgan (Grace Jones), Bimini, first published in Weird Tales, reprinted 1949, in Avon Fantasy Reader, Issue 10,
      But death had no gift for me, no power to free me from flesh.
  7. (religion) The evil and corrupting principle working in man.
  8. The soft, often edible, parts of fruits or vegetables.
    • 2003, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Arboretum America: A Philosophy of the Forest, page 81 ↗,
      The flesh of black walnuts was a protein-packed winter food carefully hoarded in tall, stilted buildings.
  9. (obsolete) Tenderness of feeling; gentleness.
    • There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart.
  10. (obsolete) Kindred; stock; race.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Genesis 37:27 ↗:
      He is our brother and our flesh.
  11. A yellowish pink colour; the colour of some Caucasian human skin.
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flesh (fleshes, present participle fleshing; past fleshed, past participle fleshed)

  1. (transitive) To bury (something, especially a weapon) in flesh.
  2. (obsolete) To inure or habituate someone in or to a given practice. [16th-18th c.]
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 7, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes, […], book II, printed at London: By Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount […], OCLC 946730821 ↗:
      And whosoever could now joyne us together, and eagerly flesh all our people to a common enterprise, we should make our ancient military name and chivalrous credit to flourish againe.
  3. (transitive) To train to an appetite for flesh, as dogs for hunting.
  4. (transitive) To glut.
  5. (transitive) To put flesh on; to fatten.
  6. To remove the flesh from the skin during the making of leather.
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