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verb (used with object)
  1. to strip off the skin or outer covering of.
  2. to criticize or scold with scathing severity.
  3. to deprive or strip of money or property.
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Origin of flay

before 900; Middle English flen, Old English flēan; cognate with Middle Dutch vlaen, Old Norse flā
Related formsflay·er, nounun·flayed, adjective


See more synonyms for flay on Thesaurus.com
2. castigate, excoriate, upbraid, chew out.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for flay


verb (tr)
  1. to strip off the skin or outer covering of, esp by whipping; skin
  2. to attack with savage criticism
  3. to strip of money or goods, esp by cheating or extortion
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Derived Formsflayer, noun

Word Origin

Old English flēan; related to Old Norse flā to peel, Lithuanian pl e šti 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

Word Origin and History for flay


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper