- to strip off the skin or hide of, as by whipping
- to criticize or scold mercilessly
- to rob; pillage
Origin of flayMiddle English flan ; from Old English flean, akin to Middle Dutch vlaen, Old Norse fla ; from Indo-European base an unverified form pl??-, to tear off from source flitch
transitive verbflayed, flay·ing, flays
- To strip off the skin or outer covering of.
- To strip of money or goods; fleece.
- To whip or lash.
- To assail with stinging criticism; excoriate.
Origin of flayMiddle English flen, from Old English fl&emacron;an.
(third-person singular simple present flays, present participle flaying, simple past and past participle flayed)
From Middle English flayen, flaien, fleien, from Old English *flīeġan ("to cause to fly, put to flight, frighten"; found only in compounds: āflīeġan), from Proto-Germanic *flaugijaną (“to let fly, cause to fly”), causitive of Proto-Germanic *fleuganą (“to fly”), from Proto-Indo-European *plew-k-, *plew- (“to run, flow, swim, fly”). Cognate with Old High German arflaugjan ("to frighten, cause to flee"; whence Middle High German ervlougen (“to put to flight, drive away, expel”)), Icelandic fleygja (“to throw away, discard”), Gothic - (us-flaugjan, “to cause to fly”).
(third-person singular simple present flays, present participle flaying, simple past flayed, past participle flayed or flain (obsolete))
From Old English flean from Proto-Germanic *flahaną. Cognate with Old Norse flá (“to flay”), whence Danish flå.