Open main menu
See also: Fillip




From Middle English philippe, filippen (to make a sound with right forefinger and thumb, snap). Origin uncertain. Probably an alteration of Middle English flappen (to hit, slap, clap, applaud). More at flap. At first, the literal sense was extended to “something of small importance; a trifle” (“the rest is not worth a fillip with the finger”), then to a short space of time (the time it would take to flick a finger, as in “the a fillip of the finger was down in the gardens of Riu Gu”). Only in the 18th and 19th centuries did its current usage, as encouragement or stimulus, come to dominate.



fillip (plural fillips)

  1. (archaic) A flick; the act of releasing the index finger from the hold of a thumb with a snap.
    Synonym: flick
  2. (by extension) Something that excites or stimulates.
    This measure gave a fillip to the housing market.
    This athlete's victory provided a much-needed fillip for national pride.
    • 1824, Washington Irving, Tales of a Traveler - Club of Queer Fellows
      He sat at the head of the table with his hat on, and an eye beaming even more luminously than his nose. He had a quiz and a fillip for every one, and a good thing on every occasion.
    • 2011 May 25, Justin Chang, “The Day He Arrives”, in Variety[1]:
      The outline could apply to most of the self-effacing, increasingly inward-looking comedies written and directed by Hong Sang-soo, and it certainly describes “The Day He Arrives,” an agreeably meandering exercise that brings some clever French New Wave fillips and structural repetitions to Hong’s characteristically boozy party.
    • 2018 July 28, Katharine Murphy, “Super Saturday elections: Shorten passes test as Labor wins 'four from four'”, in The Guardian[2]:
      Labor has emerged victorious in critical byelection contests in Tasmania and Queensland in a significant fillip for the federal leader, Bill Shorten, boosting its primary vote in Longman and harvesting the lion’s share of preferences in Braddon.



fillip (third-person singular simple present fillips, present participle filliping, simple past and past participle filliped)

  1. (transitive) To strike or project with the nail of a finger snapped from the end of the thumb; flick.
    • Shakespeare: Troilus and Cressida 4.5.45
      You fillip me o' the head.
  2. (transitive) To tap or strike smartly.
  3. (transitive) To make a fillip; drive by or as by a fillip; stimulate; excite; whet.
    The spicy aroma filliped my appetite.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, chapter 40
      Grand snoozing to-night, maty; fat night for that. I mark this in our old Mogul’s wine; it’s quite as deadening to some as filliping to others.
  4. To snap; to project quickly.
    • Tylor
      the use of the elastic switch to fillip small missiles with

Related termsEdit