See more synonyms for flank on Thesaurus.com
  1. the side of an animal or a person between the ribs and hip.
  2. the thin piece of flesh constituting this part.
  3. a slice of meat from the flank of an animal.
  4. the side of anything, as of a building.
  5. Military, Navy. the extreme right or left side of an army or fleet, or a subdivision of an army or fleet.
  6. Fortification.
    1. the right or left side of a work or fortification.
    2. the part of a bastion that extends from the curtain to the face and protects the curtain and the opposite face.
  7. Machinery. (on a screw thread or the like) either of the two vertical inclined surfaces between the crest and the root.
verb (used with object)
  1. to stand or be placed or posted at the flank or side of.
  2. to defend or guard at the flank.
  3. Military. to menace or attack the flank of.
  4. to pass around or turn the flank of.
verb (used without object)
  1. to occupy a position at the flank or side.
  2. to present the flank or side.

Origin of flank

before 1100; Middle English; late Old English flanc < Old French < Frankish; compare Old High German hlanca loin
Related formsun·flank, verb (used with object)well-flanked, adjective

Synonyms for flank

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for flanking

Contemporary Examples of flanking

Historical Examples of flanking

British Dictionary definitions for flanking


  1. the side of a man or animal between the ribs and the hip
  2. (loosely) the outer part of the human thigh
  3. a cut of beef from the flank
  4. the side of anything, such as a mountain or building
  5. the side of a naval or military formation
  1. (when intr, often foll by on or upon) to be located at the side of (an object, building, etc)
  2. military to position or guard on or beside the flank of (a formation, etc)
  3. military to move past or go round (a flank)

Word Origin for flank

C12: from Old French flanc, of Germanic origin
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

Word Origin and History for flanking



late Old English flanc "fleshy part of the side," from Old French flanc, probably from Frankish *hlanca (cf. Old High German (h)lanca, Middle High German lanke "hip joint," German lenken "to bend, turn, lead"), from PIE root *kleng- "to bend, turn" (see link (n.)). The military sense is first attested 1540s, as is the verb. Related: Flanked; flanking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

flanking in Medicine


  1. The side of the body between the pelvis or hip and the last rib; the side.
  2. The section of flesh in that area.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.