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See also: Flitter




From Middle English flytteren, frequentative form of flitten, flytten, flütten, possibly from Old Norse flytja (to carry about, convey), equivalent to flit + -er (frequentative suffix) (and formed that way in the modern science-fiction sense).


flitter (third-person singular simple present flitters, present participle flittering, simple past and past participle flittered)

  1. To scatter in pieces.
  2. To move about rapidly and nimbly.
  3. To move quickly from one condition or location to another.
    • 2003, Rudy Gray, D'n'd, iUniverse, page 41,
      How she remembered the gray-feathered titmouse flittering about as she stared unbelievingly at the grave of her sister and clung to Reese, then five years old.
    • 2006, Katherine Macinnis, Kelsar, Publishing, page 60,
      There were two bugs flittering on either side of her.
    • 2014, Daniel Freeman, The Conquest, College Essays That Made a Difference, 6th Edition, Penguin Random House, page 129,
      The back of the group flittered in and out of my view, pulling me forward with only dim hopes of success.
  4. To flutter or quiver.

Derived termsEdit


flitter (plural flitters)

  1. A rag; a tatter; a small piece or fragment.
  2. (science fiction) A small aircraft or spacecraft.
    • 1941 July, Smith, Edward Elmer, “The Vortex Blaster”, in Comet Stories, volume 1, number 5, page 10:
      Then all three went out to the flitter. A tiny speedster, really; a torpedo bearing stubby wings and the ludicrous tail-surfaces, the multifarious driving-, braking-, side-, top-, and under-jets so characteristic of the tricky, cranky, but ultra-maneuverable breed.
    • 1944 March, Smith, George Oliver, “Circle of Confusion”, in Astounding Science Fiction, volume 33, number 1, page 54:
      Small flitters were powered and made ready, and everything that carried manual controls was inspected and cleared for action.
    • 1955, Norton (as Andrew North), Alice Mary, Sargasso of Space, page 53:
      The small flitters carried by the Queen for exploration work held with comfort a two-man crew—with crowding, three.
    • 1994, Baxter, Stephen, Ring, →ISBN, page 43:
      The flitter tumbled from the shimmering throat of the wormhole transit route from Port Sol to Earthport.


Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for flitter in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)




  1. First-person singular present of flittern.
  2. Imperative singular of flittern.