(countable and uncountable, plural meats)
- (now archaic, dialectal) Food, for animals or humans, especially solid food. See also meat and drink. [from 8th c.]
- (now rare) A type of food, a dish. [from 9th c.]
- (now archaic) A meal. [from 9th c.]
- (uncountable) The flesh of an animal used as food. [from 14th c.]
- Is that meat halal to eat?
- (uncountable) Any relatively thick, solid part of a fruit, nut etc. [from 15th c.]
- The apple looked fine on the outside, but the meat was not very firm.
- (slang) a penis. [from 16th c.]
- (countable) A type of meat, by anatomic position and provenance. [from 16th c.]
- The butchery's profit rate on various meats varies greatly
- (colloquial) The best or most substantial part of something. [from 16th c.]
- We recruited him right from the meat of our competitor.
- (sports) The sweet spot of a bat or club (in cricket, golf, baseball etc.). [from 20th c.]
- He hit it right on the meat of the bat.
- A meathead.
- Throw it in here, meat.
- (Australian Aboriginal) A totem, or (by metonymy) a clan or clansman which uses it.
The meaning "flesh of an animal used as food" is often understood to exclude fish and other seafood. For example, the rules for abstaining from meat in the Roman Catholic Church do not extend to fish; likewise, some people who consider themselves vegetarians also eat fish (though the more precise term for such a person is pescetarian).
From Middle English mete, from Old English mete (“meat, food"), from Proto-Germanic *matiz (“food"), from Proto-Indo-European *mad- (“to drip, ooze; grease, fat"). Cognate with Frisian mete, Old Saxon meti, Old High German maz (“food"), Old Icelandic matr, Gothic ðŒ¼ðŒ°ð„ðƒ (mats), from a Proto-Germanic *matiz. A -ja- derivation from the same base is found in Middle Dutch and Middle Low German met (“lean pork"), whence Modern Low German Mett (“minced meat") (whence 16th c. German Mettwurst (“a kind of sausage"))
Old Irish mess (“animal feed") and Welsh mes (“acorns"), compare English mast (“fodder for swine and other animals"), are probably from the same root.