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flea

Syllabification: flea
Pronunciation: /flē
 
/

Definition of flea in English:

noun

1A small wingless jumping insect that feeds on the blood of mammals and birds. It sometimes transmits diseases through its bite, including plague and myxomatosis.
  • Order Siphonaptera: several families and many species, including the human flea (Pulex irritans) and the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis)
Example sentences
  • Plague mostly affected rodents, but fleas could transmit the disease to people too.
  • Plague is transmitted by fleas that live on rodents.
  • It put poison in his blood that killed fleas after one bite.
1.1 short for flea beetle.
1.2A water flea (see daphnia).

Origin

Old English flēa, flēah, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vlo and German Floh.

More
  • The first use of flea is recorded as early as the 8th century. Fleas are jumping insects, and since the late 19th century we have used fit as a flea to describe an active, healthy person. People have been sent away with a flea in their ear since the 15th century, and the idea dates back earlier in France. The telling-off or rejection is so ‘sharp’ that it is likened to the pain of a flea bite. Flea markets (early 20th century) and fleapits (mid 20th century), or scruffy cinemas, get their names from the idea that they are places which harbour fleas.

Phrases

a flea in one's ear

1
A sharp reproof: she expected to be sent away with a flea in her ear
More example sentences
  • And if anybody asks when we will be having children they will go away with a flea in their ear.
  • ‘He was sent away with a flea in his ear,’ said one Labour backbencher.
  • A few weeks ago at another tournament in England, such assumptions saw one mouthy opponent dispatched with a flea in his ear.

Words that rhyme with flea

absentee, açai, addressee, adoptee, agree, allottee, amputee, appellee, appointee, appraisee, après-ski, assignee, asylee, attendee, bailee, bain-marie, Bangui, bargee, bawbee, be, Bea, bee, bootee, bouquet garni, bourgeoisie, Brie, BSc, buckshee, Capri, cc, chimpanzee, cohabitee, conferee, consignee, consultee, Cree, debauchee, decree, dedicatee, Dee, degree, deportee, dernier cri, detainee, devisee, devotee, divorcee, draftee, dree, Dundee, dungaree, eau-de-vie, emcee, employee, endorsee, en famille, ennui, enrollee, escapee, esprit, evacuee, examinee, expellee, fee, fiddle-de-dee, flee, fleur-de-lis, foresee, franchisee, free, fusee (US fuzee), Gardaí, garnishee, gee, ghee, glee, goatee, grandee, Grand Prix, grantee, Guarani, guarantee, he, HMRC, indictee, inductee, internee, interviewee, invitee, jamboree, Jaycee, jeu d'esprit, key, knee, Lea, lee, legatee, Leigh, lessee, Ley, licensee, loanee, lychee, manatee, Manichee, maquis, Marie, marquee, me, Midi, mortgagee, MSc, nominee, obligee, Otomi, parolee, Parsee, parti pris, patentee, Pawnee, payee, pea, pee, permittee, plc, plea, pledgee, pollee, presentee, promisee, quay, ratatouille, referee, refugee, releasee, repartee, retiree, returnee, rupee, scot-free, scree, sea, secondee, see, settee, Shanxi, Shawnee, shchi, she, shea, si, sirree, ski, spree, standee, suttee, tant pis, tea, tee, tee-hee, Tennessee, testee, the, thee, three, thuggee, Tiree, Torquay, trainee, Tralee, transferee, tree, Trincomalee, trustee, tutee, twee, Twi, undersea, vestee, vis-à-vis, wagon-lit, Waikiki, warrantee, we, wee, whee, whoopee, ye, yippee, Zuider Zee

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Word of the day snarf
Pronunciation: snɑːf
verb
eat or drink quickly or greedily