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verb (used with object), fled, flee·ing.
  1. to run away from (a place, person, etc.).

Origin of flee

before 900; Middle English fleen, Old English flēon; cognate with Old High German flichan (German fliehen), Gothic thliuhan; compare Old English fleogan to fly1
Related formsout·flee, verb (used with object), out·fled, out·flee·ing.un·flee·ing, adjective
Can be confusedflea flee

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for flee


verb flees, fleeing or fled
  1. to run away from (a place, danger, etc); flyto flee the country
  2. (intr) to run or move quickly; rush; speedshe fled to the door
Derived Formsfleer, noun

Word Origin for flee

Old English flēon; related to Old Frisian fliā, Old High German fliohan, Gothic thliuhan


  1. a Scot word for fly 1
  1. a Scot word for fly 2
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 flee

Old English fleon "take flight, fly from, avoid, escape" (contracted class II strong verb; past tense fleah, past participle flogen), from Proto-Germanic *thleukhanan (cf. Old High German fliohan, Old Norse flöja, Old Frisian flia, Dutch vlieden, German fliehen, Gothic þliuhan "to flee"), of unknown origin. Not found outside Germanic.

Weak past tense and past participle fled emerged Middle English, under influence of Scandinavian. Old English had a transitive form, geflieman "put to flight," which came in handy in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Related: Fleeing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper