fleece

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fleece / flēs/ • n. 1. the woolly covering of a sheep or goat: as the sheep came on board, we grabbed their long shaggy fleeces | he clutched the ram by two handfuls of thick fleece. ∎  the amount of wool shorn from a sheep in a single piece at one time. 2. a thing resembling a sheep's woolly covering, in particular: ∎  a soft warm fabric with a texture similar to sheep's wool, often used as a lining material. ∎  a jacket or other garment made from such a fabric. ∎  Heraldry a representation of a fleece suspended from a ring. • v. [tr.] 1. inf. obtain a great deal of money from (someone), typically by overcharging or swindling them: money that authorities say he fleeced from well-to-do acquaintances. 2. fig. cover as if with a fleece: the sky was half blue, half fleeced with white clouds. DERIVATIVES: fleeced adj.

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fleece, mat of wool formed by shearing a sheep in one continuous operation. The average fleece weighs from 5 to 10 lb (2.3–4.5 kg); in highbred wool sheep such as the American Merinos a ram's fleece may reach 30 lb (13.6 kg). The weight lost in cleansing the fleece of grease before sorting the wool is called shrinkage. On large sheep ranches hand shearing, once a competition skill, has largely been replaced by machine shearing. In heraldry a fleece is a whole, stuffed ram's fleece, complete with head and feet, suspended by a band around its middle. See also Golden Fleece and sheep.

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fleeceanis, apiece, Berenice, caprice, cassis, cease, coulisse, crease, Dumfries, fils, fleece, geese, grease, Greece, kris, lease, Lucrece, MacNeice, Matisse, McAleese, Nice, niece, obese, peace, pelisse, piece, police, Rees, Rhys, set piece, sublease, surcease, two-piece, underlease •mantelpiece • headpiece • hairpiece •tailpiece • Greenpeace •chimney piece • frontispiece •timepiece • codpiece • crosspiece •mouthpiece • showpiece • earpiece •masterpiece •centrepiece (US centerpiece) •altarpiece • workpiece • ambergris •calabrese

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fleece sb. OE. flēos = Du., (M)HG. vlies :- WGmc. *fleusa, and OE. flēs (WS. flīes) = MLG. vlüs, MDu. vluus, MHG. vlius :- WGmc. *fleusi, rel. to MLG., MHG. vlūs sheepskin (G. flaus woollen coat) :- *flūsa-; prob. ult. rel. to the base of L. plūma PLUME.
Hence vb. lit. and fig. XVI.