Old English flæsc "flesh, meat," also "near kindred" (a sense now obsolete except in phrase flesh and blood), common West and North Germanic (cf. Old Frisian flesk, Middle Low German vlees, German Fleisch "flesh," Old Norse flesk "pork, bacon"), of uncertain origin, perhaps from Proto-Germanic *flaiskoz-.
Figurative use for "animal or physical nature of man" (Old English) is from the Bible, especially Paul's use of Greek sarx, which yielded sense of "sensual appetites" (c.1200). Flesh-wound is from 1670s; flesh-color, the hue of "Caucasian" skin, is first recorded 1610s, described as a tint composed of "a light pink with a little yellow" [O'Neill, "Dyeing," 1862]. An Old English poetry-word for "body" was flæsc-hama, literally "flesh-home."
1520s, "to render (a hunting animal) eager for prey by rewarding it with flesh from a kill," with figurative extensions, from flesh (n.). Meaning "to clothe or embody with flesh," with figurative extensions, is from 1660s. Related: Fleshed; fleshing.
The soft tissue of the body of a vertebrate, covering the bones and consisting mainly of skeletal muscle and fat.
Creditors who insist on having their “pound of flesh” are those who cruelly demand the repayment of a debt, no matter how much suffering it will cost the debtor: “The bank will have its pound of flesh; it is going to foreclose on our mortgage and force us to sell our home.” The expression is from The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare.
A phrase from the play The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare. The moneylender Shylock demands the flesh of the “merchant of Venice,” Antonio, under a provision in their contract. Shylock never gets the pound of flesh, however, because the character Portia discovers a point of law that overrides the contract: Shylock is forbidden to shed any blood in getting the flesh from Antonio's body.
Note: People who cruelly or unreasonably insist on their rights are said to be demanding their “pound of flesh.”
in the Old Testament denotes (1) a particular part of the body of man and animals (Gen. 2:21; 41:2; Ps. 102:5, marg.); (2) the whole body (Ps. 16:9); (3) all living things having flesh, and particularly humanity as a whole (Gen. 6:12, 13); (4) mutability and weakness (2 Chr. 32:8; comp. Isa. 31:3; Ps. 78:39). As suggesting the idea of softness it is used in the expression "heart of flesh" (Ezek. 11:19). The expression "my flesh and bone" (Judg. 9:2; Isa. 58:7) denotes relationship. In the New Testament, besides these it is also used to denote the sinful element of human nature as opposed to the "Spirit" (Rom. 6:19; Matt. 16:17). Being "in the flesh" means being unrenewed (Rom. 7:5; 8:8, 9), and to live "according to the flesh" is to live and act sinfully (Rom. 8:4, 5, 7, 12). This word also denotes the human nature of Christ (John 1:14, "The Word was made flesh." Comp. also 1 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 1:3).