Middle English Dictionary Entry

flẹ̄n v.(1)
Quotations: Show all Hide all

Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Note: Cp. flien & fleien.
1a.
(a) To retreat, run away, flee; ~ awei, awei ~; also fig., of the sea: to roll back; (b) to flee (an enemy), run away from; (c) as inflected infin. (?also as ppl.) preceded by to; (d) ~ fro (from), to run away from (an enemy); ~ into (intil, to, unto), to flee to (someone) for protection, retreat into (a place), take refuge in (a place); also fig.; (e) refl. to retreat, flee; to betake oneself (to a place or person) for aid or protection, take refuge; (f) fleing bataile, troops in retreat or flight; the fleing, fugitives; ~ a (on) fot, to retreat the space of one foot; ~ no fot, not to retreat at all; ~ (one's) wei, to run away; ~ to hirn, to retreat into a corner, hide oneself in a corner; fle thider the thou fle, whither ever thou flest, flee where you will; wel fight that wel fleth, he fights well who retreats well, discretion is the better part of valor.
1b.
To be inclined to flee, be timid or fearful; to fear or respect (a prohibition).
1c.
To put (someone) to flight, to drive away, to pursue; fig. to cast out (worldly wealth); fled peple, fugitives; fled womman, an exiled woman. [Cp. fleien put to flight.]
2.
(a) To escape; to evade punishment [quot.: a1325]; -- also with fro, from, out of; (b) to escape from (blows, sorrow, one's destiny, someone's wrath, etc.); to evade (someone's perceiving or knowing).
3.
(a) To flee out of or depart from (a place), to leave, depart, go away; fig. to die; -- also with from, of, out, out of; (b) to desert or depart from (someone), to go away; -- often with fro, from, out from.
4.
(a) To avoid (something), to shun (vice, error); ~ occasioun, to avoid a chance, an opportunity, temptation; -- also with fro, from; (b) to give up (something); to renounce (the world, friendship, love, etc.); -- also with fro; (c) to refrain from (doing something).
5.
To flinch, turn aside, give way; to turn aside (from a desire or purpose, from a commandment or service); ~ to and fro, to vacillate; of eyes: to be shifty.
6.
(a) Of things: to depart, vanish, be lost; to depart (from the mind or memory), be forgotten; of time: to pass; (b) to be fleeting or transitory; fleing thinges, transitory or temporal things.
7.
Med. Of a disease: fleing, fliand, shifting from one part of the body to another.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • c1450(c1415) Roy.Serm.(Roy 18.B.23)235/10 : Anon þei flewʒ and þer enmyes sewed hem and put many of hem to dethe.
  • Note: NF
  • (a1387) Trev.Higd.(StJ-C H.1)7.489 : He þat haþ non oþer socour moste nedes flee to bolde dayes [read: dedes] of manhode and of strengþe.
  • Note: No sense for this quot. = have recourse to (a well-attested sense of confugio in CL).--per MJW
    Note: Higd.(2): flee to manhode; L ut ad probitatem confugiat
    Note: Closest to the fig. sense of 1a.(d) but those quots. more lit. an extension of 'flee' than this, & the ojb. of to prep. is a person or place--per MJW