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Etymology 1[edit]

False colors scanning electron micrograph of a flea

From Middle English fle, from Old English flēah, flēa, from Proto-Germanic *flauhaz (compare West Frisian flie, Low German Flo, Flö, Dutch vlo, German Floh, Icelandic fló), from pre-Germanic *plóukos, *plówkos, from Proto-Indo-European *plúsis (compare Latin pulex).



flea (plural fleas)

  1. A small, wingless, parasitic insect of the order Siphonaptera, renowned for its bloodsucking habits and jumping abilities.
  2. A thing of no significance.
    • 1871, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, The Heart of the Continent (page 414)
      The nation of beggars on horseback which first colonized California has left behind it many traditions unworthy of conservation, and multitudinous fleas not at all traditional, but even less keepworthy []
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Alternative forms.


flea (third-person singular simple present fleas, present participle fleaing, simple past and past participle flead)

  1. Obsolete spelling of flay
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, Folio Society 1973, p. 74:
      In this Thwackum had the advantage; for while Square could only scarify the poor lad's reputation, he could flea his skin [...].