Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The section of flesh on the body of a person or an animal between the last rib and the hip; the side.
  • noun A cut of meat from the flank of an animal.
  • noun A lateral part or side.
  • noun The right or left side of a military formation.
  • noun The right or left side of a bastion.
  • transitive verb To protect or guard the flank of.
  • transitive verb To menace or attack the flank of.
  • transitive verb To be placed or situated at the flank or side of.
  • transitive verb To put (something) on each side of.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A spark or flake of fire.
  • noun The posterior part of either side of an animal, between the ribs and the hip; also, the thin piece of flesh constituting this part.
  • noun In entomology, the pleura or side of an insect's thorax.
  • noun Milit., one of the sides of an army, or of any of its divisions, as a brigade, regiment, or battalion: as, to attack the enemy on the right flank.
  • noun Hence A side of anything: as, the flanks of a building.
  • noun In fortification, that part of a bastion which reaches from the curtain to the face, or any part of a work that defends another work by a fire along the outside of its parapet. See cut under bastion.
  • noun The acting surface of a cog inside the pitch-line.
  • noun plural In farriery, a wrench or any other injury to the back of a horse.
  • noun In leather manufacturing, the part of a hide from the side of a beast.
  • Pertaining to a flank or side.
  • To stand or be placed or posted at the flank or side of; border at the side or sides: as, the flanking troops of an army.
  • Specifically Milit.: To attack or threaten the side or flank of; place troops so as to command, threaten, or attack the flank of.
  • To pass round or turn the flank of; march or move along or past one side of, as an opposing army.
  • To secure or guard the flank of: as, they flanked their position with abattis.
  • To occupy a flank position; border; touch: with on.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To stand at the flank or side of; to border upon.
  • transitive verb To overlook or command the flank of; to secure or guard the flank of; to pass around or turn the flank of; to attack, or threaten to attack; the flank of.
  • noun The fleshy or muscular part of the side of an animal, between the ribs and the hip. See Illust. of beef.
  • noun The side of an army, or of any division of an army, as of a brigade, regiment, or battalion; the extreme right or left.
  • noun (Fort.) That part of a bastion which reaches from the curtain to the face, and defends the curtain, the flank and face of the opposite bastion; any part of a work defending another by a fire along the outside of its parapet.
  • noun (Arch.) The side of any building.
  • noun That part of the acting surface of a gear wheel tooth that lies within the pitch line.
  • noun (Mil.) an attack upon the side of an army or body of troops, distinguished from one upon its front or rear.
  • noun (Mil.) a certain number of troops drawn up on the right or left of a battalion; usually grenadiers, light infantry, or riflemen.
  • noun (Fort.) protection of a work against undue exposure to an enemy's direct fire, by means of the fire from other works, sweeping the ground in its front.
  • noun (Mil.) any part of the right or left wing formed at a projecting angle with the line.
  • noun the first men on the right, and the last on the left, of a company, battalion, etc.
  • noun a march made parallel or obliquely to an enemy's position, in order to turn it or to attack him on the flank.
  • noun a change of march by an army, or portion of one, in order to turn one or both wings of the enemy, or to take up a new position.
  • noun salient points in a national boundary, strengthened to protect the frontier against hostile incursion.
  • noun detachments acting independently of the column of an army, but patrolling along its flanks, to secure it against surprise and to observe the movements of the enemy.
  • intransitive verb To border; to touch.
  • intransitive verb To be posted on the side.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective nautical Maximum (of speed). 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!).
  • noun anatomy The flesh between the last rib and the hip; the side.
  • noun cooking A cut of meat from the flank of an animal.
  • noun military The extreme left or right edge of a military formation, army etc.
  • noun The side of something, in general senses.
  • noun The outermost strip of a road.

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English flanc, from Old French flanc, of Germanic origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

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