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From Middle English mete, from Old English mete (meat, food), from Proto-Germanic *matiz (food), from Proto-Indo-European *meh₂d- (to drip, ooze; grease, fat). Cognate with West Frisian mete, Old Saxon meti, Old High German maz (food), Icelandic matr, Gothic 𐌼𐌰𐍄𐍃 (mats), from a Proto-Germanic *matiz. A -ja- derivation from the same base is found in Middle Dutch and Middle Low German met (lean pork), whence Middle Low German Mett (minced meat) (whence 16th c. German Mett (minced meat)). Compare also Old Irish mess (animal feed) and Welsh mes (acorns), English mast (fodder for swine and other animals), which are probably from the same root.



meat (countable and uncountable, plural meats)

  1. (now archaic, dialectal) Food, for animals or humans, especially solid food. See also meat and drink. [from 8th c.]
  2. (now rare) A type of food, a dish. [from 9th c.]
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter lxj, in Le Morte Darthur, book X:
      And thenne he blewe his horne that the maronners had yeuen hym / And whanne they within the Castel herd that horne / they put forthe many knyghtes and there they stode vpon the walles / and said with one voys / welcome be ye to this castel / [] / and sire Palomydes entred in to the castel / And within a whyle he was serued with many dyuerse metes
  3. (now archaic) A meal. [from 9th c.]
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Matthew, ch. 8:
      And hit cam to passe, thatt Jesus satt at meate in his housse.
  4. (uncountable) The flesh (muscle tissue) of an animal used as food. [from 14th c.]
    • 2010, Andy Atkins, The Guardian, 19 October:
      While people who eat no meat at all are identified and identifiable as vegetarians, there is no commonly accepted term for people who eat it only a couple of times a week and are selective about its quality.
    Is that meat halal to eat?
  5. (uncountable) Any relatively thick, solid part of a fruit, nut etc. [from 15th c.]
    The apple looked fine on the outside, but the meat was not very firm.
    • 1954, Cothburn O'Neal, The Dark Lady (page 12)
      She took her spoon and stirred the melted butter into the yellow meat of the yam.
  6. (slang) A penis. [from 16th c.]
    • 1993, Nancy Friday, Women on top: how real life has changed women's sexual fantasies, page 538
      He sits me on the floor (the shower is still beating down on us). He lays me down and slides his huge meat into me.
    • 2006 John Patrick, Play Hard, Score Big, page 54
      Just the tight, hot caress of his bowels surrounding my meat gave me pleasures I had only dreamed of before that day.
    • 2011, Wade Wright, Two Straight Guys, page 41
      Both men were completely, and very actively into this face fucking! Suddenly Bill pulled off of Jim's meat and said,
  7. (countable) A type of meat, by anatomic position and provenance. [from 16th c.]
    The butchery's profit rate on various meats varies greatly.
  8. (colloquial) The best or most substantial part of something. [from 16th c.]
    We recruited him right from the meat of our competitor.
    • 1577, Gerald Eades Bentley, The Arte of Angling
      [] it is time to begin "A Dialogue between Viator and Piscator," which is the meat of the matter.
  9. (sports) The sweet spot of a bat or club (in cricket, golf, baseball etc.). [from 20th c.]
    He hit it right on the meat of the bat.
  10. A meathead.
    Throw it in here, meat.
  11. (Australian Aboriginal) A totem, or (by metonymy) a clan or clansman which uses it.
    • 1949, Oceania, Vol.XX
      When a stranger comes to an aboriginal camp or settlement in north-western NSW, he is asked by one of the older aborigines: "What meat (clan) are you?"
    • 1973, M. Fennel & A. Grey, Nucoorilma
      Granny Sullivan was ‘dead against’ the match at first because they did not know "what my meat was and because I was a bit on the fair side."
    • 1977, A. K. Eckermann, Group Organisation and Identity
      Some people maintained that she was "sung" because her family had killed or eaten the "meat" (totem) of another group.
    • 1992, P. Taylor, Tell it Like it Is
      Our family [] usually married the red kangaroo "meat".
    • 1993, J. Janson, Gunjies
      That’s a beautiful goanna. []. He’s my meat, can’t eat him.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The meaning "flesh of an animal used as food" is often understood to exclude fish and other seafood. For example, the rules for abstaining from meat in the Roman Catholic Church do not extend to fish; likewise, some people who consider themselves vegetarians also eat fish (though the more precise term for such a person is pescetarian).



Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.





  1. third-person singular present active indicative of meō