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[fley] /fleɪ/
verb (used with object)
to strip off the skin or outer covering of.
to criticize or scold with scathing severity.
to deprive or strip of money or property.
Origin of flay
before 900; Middle English flen, Old English flēan; cognate with Middle Dutch vlaen, Old Norse flā
Related forms
flayer, noun
unflayed, adjective
2. castigate, excoriate, upbraid, chew out. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for flayed
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They have only to be flayed, and their skins inflated, and they will readily give us a passage.

    Anabasis Xenophon
  • Then they flayed the monster, and the next morning the hide was shown to his majesty.

    Japanese Fairy World William Elliot Griffis
  • She lived amongst them, a passive victim, quivering in every nerve, as if she were flayed.

    Chance Joseph Conrad
  • Their only clothing is a breechcloth and a short skirt of flayed bark.

    Negritos of Zambales William Allan Reed
  • No doubt they would have flayed me alive, have sold my skin, and devoured, etc.

  • A sensitive European, travelling there, feels at once starved and flayed.

    Appearances Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson
British Dictionary definitions for flayed


verb (transitive)
to strip off the skin or outer covering of, esp by whipping; skin
to attack with savage criticism
to strip of money or goods, esp by cheating or extortion
Derived Forms
flayer, noun
Word Origin
Old English flēan; related to Old Norse flā to peel, Lithuanian plešti to tear
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for flayed



Old English flean "to skin" (strong verb, past tense flog, past participle flagen), from Proto-Germanic *flakhanan (cf. Middle Dutch vlaen, Old High German flahan, Old Norse fla), from PIE root *plak- (2) "to hit" (cf. Greek plessein "to strike," Lithuanian plešiu "to tear;" see plague (n.)). Related: Flayed; flaying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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