(1)   The choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience
"The gist of the prosecutor's argument"
"The heart and soul of the Republican Party"
"The nub of the story"
(2)   The flesh of animals (including fishes and birds and snails) used as food
(3)   The inner and usually edible part of a seed or grain or nut or fruit stone
"Black walnut kernels are difficult to get out of the shell"


mete, cognate with Old High German maz 'food', Latin madere 'to be wet', Greek μαστός mastos 'wet, breast'


  1. The flesh of an animal used as food.
  2. Any relatively thick, solid part of an edible plant.
    The apple looked fine on the outside, but the meat was not very firm.
  3. A type of meat, by anatomic position and provenance.
    The butchery's profit rate on various meats varies greatly
  4. Volume or substance.
    If the assembly is too flexible, we could add some more meat to the supports to stiffen it up.
  5. The best part of something.
    We recruited him right from the meat of our competitor.
  6. The sweet spot.
    He hit it right on the meat of the bat.
  7. A meathead.
    Throw it in here, meat.
  8. A totem; metonymy for its owner(s).
    • 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.
  9. Erect phallus.

Usage notes

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).