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[flee] /fli/
verb (used without object), fled, fleeing.
to run away, as from danger or pursuers; take flight.
to move swiftly; fly; speed.
verb (used with object), fled, fleeing.
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 forms
outflee, verb (used with object), outfled, outfleeing.
unfleeing, adjective
Can be confused
flea, flee.
3. evade, escape, avoid, shun, elude. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for flee
  • Other potential escape routes pose similarly daunting obstacles for those tempted to flee.
  • Hundreds have clogged narrow back roads as they try to flee to the relative safety of the rebel-held mountains to the south.
  • Another view is that investors anticipate bad news and flee to safety.
  • When confronted by predators, elk are likely to flee in a herd, leaving the unwary or weak behind as prime targets.
  • Whereas all wild animals flee when they can to avoid interaction.
  • The researchers found that if a snake eats a toad-free diet, it doesn't have any venom-and is more likely to flee than fight.
  • The bursting of the technology stock market bubble may have prompted many stunned investors to flee that battered sector.
  • And neither of them are so depressing they make one want to flee academia.
  • But my point was that the wage differential doesn't mean anything in terms of why people flee from one place to another.
  • Either that or see strategically important industries flee.
British Dictionary definitions for flee


verb flees, fleeing, fled
to run away from (a place, danger, etc); fly: to flee the country
(intransitive) to run or move quickly; rush; speed: she fled to the door
Derived Forms
fleer, noun
Word Origin
Old English flēon; related to Old Frisian fliā, Old High German fliohan, Gothic thliuhan


a Scot word for fly1
a Scot word for fly2
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
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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
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