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 flaying

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

Examples from the Web for flaying

Contemporary Examples of flaying

Historical Examples of flaying

  • There were two girls who were flaying each other outside the 'Grand-Balcony.'


    Emile Zola

  • The makers of goat-skin bags have a curious skill in flaying.

    Beast and Man in India

    John Lockwood Kipling

  • They screamed as if escaping death; they resisted as if some one were flaying them.

    Let us follow Him

    Henryk Sienkiewicz

  • He had also persuaded a neighbor to be present on the occasion of the flaying.

    Folk-lore of Shakespeare

    Thomas Firminger Thiselton-Dyer

  • The skin can then be removed by flaying as in skinning a beef.

    Steel Traps

    A. R. (Arthur Robert) Harding

British Dictionary definitions for flaying


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 flaying



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