[ flees ]
/ flis /
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See synonyms for: fleece / fleeced / fleecing / fleeceable on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), fleeced, fleec·ing.
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Origin of fleece

before 1000; Middle English flees,Old English flēos, flȳs; cognate with Middle Dutch vlies,Middle High German vlius,German Vlies


fleece·a·ble, adjectivefleeceless, adjectivefleecelike, adjectivefleecer, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does fleece mean?

Fleece is the outer coat of wool that covers a sheep, goat, llama, or similar animal, as in Wool made from a sheep’s fleece can be scratchy, but wool from llama’s fleece is soft and buttery.

Fleece can also mean the wool collected from these animals or fabric made from it, as in Sheep farmers depend on getting good prices for recently cut fleeces to keep their farms going. 

Related to these senses, you can use fleece as a verb to mean shearing, or cutting, the wool off a sheep, as in The farmer’s son spent all morning fleecing the flock of sheep. 

Fleece also refers to fabrics or garments made from the fleece of an animal or a fabric that resembles the texture of a fleece. Coats and jackets made with polyester with a soft, silky pile are commonly referred to as fleeces.

Finally, fleece is commonly used to mean cheating or swindling a person out of money, as in I was fleeced out of a hundred dollars this morning by a fake insurance salesman.  

Example: Children always love touching the soft fleece of the llamas at the petting zoo.

Where does fleece come from?

The first records of fleece come from before the year 1000. It ultimately comes from the Old English flēos and is related to a variety of forms in other languages from the German Vlies.

Humans have been tending sheep since at least 5000 BCE, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that the history of fleece goes back pretty far. Wool has been used for warm clothing for nearly as long and has been a highly desired commodity throughout human history.

While the sheep may not be big fans of being sheared, veterinarians advise farmers to fleece their sheep to prevent possible health issues caused by overgrown coats of hair. For this reason, sheep will often be fleeced regularly even if the owner doesn’t intend to sell the wool.

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What are some other forms related to fleece?

  • fleeceable (adjective)
  • fleeceless (adjective)
  • fleecelike (adjective)
  • fleecer (noun)

What are some synonyms for fleece?

What are some words that share a root or word element with fleece

What are some words that often get used in discussing fleece?

How is fleece used in real life?

Due to a tragic lack of sheep farmers on social media, fleece is most commonly used to refer to clothing or as a synonym for cheat or swindle.

Try using fleece!

Fleece is the coat of hair cut off of a:

A. cat
B. moose
C. sheep
D. dog

How to use fleece in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fleece

/ (fliːs) /

verb (tr)
to defraud or charge exorbitantly; swindle
another term for shear (def. 1)

Word Origin for fleece

Old English flēos; related to Middle High German vlius, Dutch vlies fleece, Latin plūma feather, down
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