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 formsflay·er, nounun·flayed, adjective

Synonyms for flay

2. castigate, excoriate, upbraid, chew out.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for flayed

excoriate, scalp, peel, skin, castigate, censure, upbraid, rebuke, reprove

Examples from the Web for flayed

Contemporary Examples of flayed

Historical Examples of flayed

  • They have only to be flayed, and their skins inflated, and they will readily give us a passage.



  • 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.


    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.

British Dictionary definitions for flayed


verb (tr)

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 Formsflayer, noun

Word Origin for flay

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 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