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See also: Flank


Alternative forms[edit]


From Late Middle English flanc, from Late Old English flanc (flank), from Old French flanc, of Germanic origin, probably Frankish *hlanca, from Proto-Germanic *hlankō (bend, curve, hip, flank), from Proto-Germanic *hlankaz (flexible, sleek, bendsome), from Proto-Indo-European *kleng- (to bend). Akin to Old High German hlanca (loin), Middle Low German lanke (hip joint) (German lenken (to bend, turn, lead)), Old English hlanc (loose, slender, flaccid, lank). More at lank.


  • IPA(key): /flæŋk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æŋk


flank (third-person singular simple present flanks, present participle flanking, simple past and past participle flanked)

  1. (transitive) To attack the flank(s) of.
  2. (transitive) To defend the flank(s) of.
  3. (transitive) To place to the side(s) of.
    • c. 1728, Christopher Pitt, Epistle to Mr. Spence
      Stately colonnades are flank'd with trees.
  4. (intransitive) To be placed to the side(s) of something (usually in terms of two objects, one on each side).




flank (plural flanks)

  1. (anatomy) The flesh between the last rib and the hip; the side.
  2. (cooking) A cut of meat from the flank of an animal.
  3. (military) The extreme left or right edge of a military formation, army etc.
  4. (military) The sides of a bastion perpendicular to the wall from which the bastion projects.
  5. The side of something, in general senses.
    • 1918, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Land That Time Forgot Chapter VIII
      Cautiously I approached the flank of the cliffs, where they terminated in an abrupt escarpment as though some all powerful hand had broken off a great section of rock and set it upon the surface of the earth.
    • 1960 January, G. Freeman Allen, “"Condor"—British Railways' fastest freight train”, in Trains Illustrated, page 48:
      Ahead the flanks of the Pennines gleamed faintly in the moonlight, looking as though they themselves were part of some dry and deserted lunar landscape.
  6. The outermost strip of a road.
  7. (soccer) The wing, one side of the pitch.
    • 2011 January 23, Alistair Magowan, “Blackburn 2 - 0 West Brom”, in BBC[1]:
      The hosts also had Paul Robinson to thank for a string of saves, three of them coming against Jerome Thomas, who gave Michel Salgado a torrid time down the left flank.
  8. That part of the acting surface of a gear wheel tooth that lies within the pitch line.


  • (all senses): side
  • (side of formation): wing

Derived terms[edit]



flank (not comparable)

  1. (US, nautical, of speed) Maximum. Historically faster than full speed (the most a vessel can sustain without excessive engine wear or risk of damage), now frequently used interchangeably. Typically used in an emergency or during an attack.
    All ahead flank!