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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.).
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 flees
  • He experiences feelings of desperate arousal, fear and revulsion and flees.
  • In the hunting sequence, the boar flees but is cornered before a ravine.
  • Marvel flees to the seaside town of burdock where he takes refuge in an inn.
  • Idris discovers the plot and flees to lionel, who marries her soon after.
  • A squad that does not retreat is far more valuable than an army that flees upon sight.
British Dictionary definitions for flees


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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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