Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia.
1. To remove the outermost layer of something, such as skin, paint, rind, etc., typically with one's fingers. Tommy! Stop peeling the bark off those trees this instant! That scrape is never going to heal if you keep peeling off the scab!
2. To remove a covering, layer, or thin piece from something. He peeled off the sweat-stained clothes and jumped in the shower. Let me peel off a sticky note for you so you can jot down the number.
3. To deviate or depart from a group's course or direction of movement. When he saw his parents approaching, Tom peeled off from his friends and ducked down a side alley. Why is that one plane peeling off from the rest?
4. Of a car, to accelerate to a very high speed after being stationary. After ramming into my rear bumper, the other car just peeled off and sped away out of view.
peel something off (of) (something)and peel something off from something
to remove the outside surface layer from something. (Of is usually retained before pronouns.) She carefully peeled the skin off the apple. She peeled off the apple's skin.
peel off (of) (something)
[for a surface layer] to come loose and fall away from something. (Of is usually retained before pronouns.) The paint is beginning to peel off the garage. The paint is peeling off.
(from something) [for one or more airplanes] to separate from a group of airplanes. The lead plane peeled off from the others, and soon the rest followed. The lead plane peeled off and dived into the clouds.
1. Remove an outer layer of skin, bark, paint, or the like; also, come off in thin strips or pieces. For example, Peeling off birch bark can kill the tree, or Paint was peeling off the walls. [Late 1500s]
2. Remove or separate, as in Helen peeled off her gloves and got to work, or Al peeled off a ten-dollar bill and gave it to the driver. [First half of 1900s]
3. Also, peel away. Depart from a group, as in Ruth peeled off from the pack of runners and went down a back road. This expression originated in air force jargon during World War II and was used for an airplane or pilot that left flight formation, a sight that suggested the peeling of skin from a banana.
1. To strip some outer layer, surface, or covering away from something in thin strips or pieces: I peeled off the wrapping from my new CD case and took out the CD. You have to peel the skin off before you eat a banana.
2. To come off from a surface in thin strips or pieces: My skin peeled off after I got a sunburn. The labels peeled off from the file folders.
3. To take off clothes, especially when they fit tightly: It was so hot, we peeled off our jackets. Eventually, the campers peeled their shoes and socks off as they sat on the beach.
4. To leave a flight formation in order to land or make a dive. Used of an aircraft: The plane peeled off from the rest of the formation and did a trick.
5. To leave a group and move in a different direction: The members who voted against me peeled off and formed their own school.