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Uncertain. First used in the 18th century. Perhaps a metathesis of film +‎ -s +‎ -y; or related to flimflam.


  • IPA(key): /ˈflɪmzi/
  • (file)


flimsy (comparative flimsier or more flimsy, superlative flimsiest or most flimsy)

  1. Likely to bend or break under pressure.
    Synonyms: weak, shaky, flexible, fragile
    Antonyms: robust, strong, sturdy
    He expected the flimsy structure to collapse at any moment.
  2. (figurative) Weak; ill-founded.
    Synonyms: weak, feeble, unconvincing, unfounded, unsubstantiated
    Antonyms: well-founded, substantiated
    a flimsy excuse



flimsy (plural flimsies)

  1. Thin typing paper used to make multiple copies.
    • 1977, John Le Carré, The Honourable Schoolboy, Folio Society, published 2010, page 251:
      Smiley peered once more at the flimsy which he still clutched in his pudgy hand.
  2. (naval slang) A service certificate
    • 1964, Australia. Parliament, Records of the Proceedings and Printed Papers of the Parliament:
      A perusal of the comments of officers under whom he has served as recorded in his “flimsies" indicates that he has almost consistently received high commendation for his service.
    • 1994, John Wells, The Royal Navy: An Illustrated Social History, 1870-1982, page 7:
      Regulations required a commanding officer to render annual confidential reports on the character and ability of his officers - with particular reference to sobriety - on forms known as 'flimsies'.
  3. (informal, in the plural) Skimpy underwear.
    • 2007 October 25, Ruth La Ferla, “Now It’s Nobody’s Secret”, in New York Times[1]:
      Choosing lingerie “is about what makes you look good, but also what looks good with or through your clothing,” said Monica Mitro, a spokeswoman for Victoria’s Secret, the brand that catapulted racy flimsies into the public eye.
  4. (slang) A banknote.
    • 1846, George William MacArthur Reynolds, The Mysteries of London, page 60:
      [] Q was a Queer-screen, that served as a blind; / R was a Reader, with flimsies well lined; []

Derived terms[edit]