• synonyms


verb (used without object), fled, flee·ing.
  1. to run away, as from danger or pursuers; take flight.
  2. to move swiftly; fly; speed.
Show More
verb (used with object), fled, flee·ing.
  1. to run away from (a place, person, etc.).
Show More

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


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

Related Words

fly, jump, depart, get, leave, vanish, desert, retreat, blow, elude, skedaddle, abscond, skip, avoid, scoot, evade, break, scamper, hotfoot, decamp

Examples from the Web for flees

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for flees


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
Show More
Derived Formsfleer, noun

Word Origin

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


  1. a Scot word for fly 1
Show More
  1. a Scot word for fly 2
Show More
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 flees



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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper