"wool coat of a sheep," Old English fleos, flies "fleece, wool, fur, sealskin," from West Germanic *flusaz (source also of Middle Dutch vluus, Dutch vlies, Middle High German vlius, German Vlies), which is of uncertain origin; probably from PIE *pleus- "to pluck," also "a feather, fleece" (source also of Latin pluma "feather, down," Lithuanian plunksna "feather").
1530s in the literal sense of "to strip (a sheep) of fleece," from fleece (n.). From 1570s in the figurative meaning "to cheat, swindle, strip of money." Related: Fleeced; fleecer; fleecing.
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