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From Middle English floteren, from Old English floterian, flotorian (to float about, flutter), from Proto-Germanic *flutrōną, frequentative of Proto-Germanic *flutōną (to float), equivalent to float +‎ -er (frequentative suffix). Cognate with Low German fluttern, fluddern (to flutter), Dutch fladderen; also Albanian flutur (butterfly). More at float.



flutter (third-person singular simple present flutters, present participle fluttering, simple past and past participle fluttered)

  1. (intransitive) To flap or wave quickly but irregularly.
    flags fluttering in the wind
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter III, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326:
      Long after his cigar burnt bitter, he sat with eyes fixed on the blaze. When the flames at last began to flicker and subside, his lids fluttered, then drooped ; but he had lost all reckoning of time when he opened them again to find Miss Erroll in furs and ball-gown kneeling on the hearth [].
  2. (intransitive, of a winged animal) To flap the wings without flying; to fly with a light flapping of the wings.
  3. (transitive) To cause something to flap.
    A bird flutters its wings.
  4. (transitive) To drive into disorder; to throw into confusion.
    • William Shakespeare (c.1564–1616)
      Like an eagle in a dovecote, I / Fluttered your Volscians in Corioli.
    • 1868, Anthony Trollope, He Knew He Was Right XIII:
      ‘I know,’ continued he, ‘that this is a very bald way of telling, of pleading my cause; but I don’t know whether a bald way may not be the best, if it can only make itself understood to be true. Of course, Miss Rowley, you know what I mean. As I said before, you have all those things which not only make me love you, but which make me like you also. If you think that you can love me, say so; and, as long as I live, I will do my best to make you happy as my wife.’
      There was a clearness of expression in this, and a downright surrender of himself, which so flattered her and so fluttered her that she was almost reduced to the giving of herself up because she could not reply to such an appeal in language less courteous than that of agreement. After a moment or two she found herself remaining silent, with a growing feeling that silence would be taken as conveying consent. There floated quickly across her brain an idea of the hardness of a woman’s lot, in that she should be called upon to decide her future fate for life in half a minute. He had had weeks to think of this, weeks in which it would have been almost unmaidenly in her so to think of it as to have made up her mind to accept the man. Had she so made up her mind, and had he not come to her, where would she have been then?
  5. (intransitive) To be in a state of agitation or uncertainty.
  6. (intransitive, obsolete) To be frivolous.



English Wikipedia has an article on:

flutter (countable and uncountable, plural flutters)

  1. The act of fluttering; quick and irregular motion.
    the flutter of a fan
    • Milnes
      the chirp and flutter of some single bird
  2. A state of agitation.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Alexander Pope to this entry?)
    • Henry James
      Their visitor was an issue - at least to the imagination, and they arrived finally, under provocation, at intensities of flutter in which they felt themselves so compromised by his hoverings that they could only consider with relief the fact of nobody's knowing.
  3. An abnormal rapid pulsation of the heart.
  4. (Britain) A small bet or risky investment.
    • 1915, W. Somerset Maugham, chapter 93, in Of Human Bondage:
      "Oh, by the way, I heard of a rather good thing today, New Kleinfonteins; it's a gold mine in Rhodesia. If you'd like to have a flutter you might make a bit."
    • Gray Matter: How will Schu do?
      So with his victory odds currently at 14/1 or 3/1 for the podium, he's still most certainly well worth a flutter []
  5. A hasty game of cards or similar.
  6. (audio, electronics) The rapid variation of signal parameters, such as amplitude, phase, and frequency.

Derived termsEdit