From flitter + mouse (compare flickermouse, flindermouse), after Middle Dutch fleddermuys, vledermuys, vlermuys (Modern Dutch vleermuis), from Middle Dutch vledderen, vlederen (“to flutter, float, hover”) + muys (“mouse”). Cognate with West Frisian flearmûs (“bat”), Middle Low German vledermūs (“bat”), German Fledermaus (“bat”), Swedish fladdermus (“bat”) and flädermus (“bat”). More at flitter, flutter, flatter, mouse.
flittermouse (plural flittermice)
- (now chiefly dialectal) A bat; a reremouse; flindermouse.
1891, Conway Lloyd Morgan, Animal sketches:
- I thank thee, gentle flittermouse, for these so pleasant memories. Have you ever caught and examined a flittermouse?
- 1894, Philip Stewart Robinson, Birds of the Wave and Woodland, Electronic Edition, unnumbered page,
- The bats wheel overhead, their soft wings crumpling as they turn their somersaults, but never a voice in the air, save sharp needle-points of sound, as flittermouse calls to flittermouse.
- 1969, Rayner Heppenstall, The Shearers, page 183,
- They don't bump into folk, blind people don't. They're like flittermice. You never saw two flittermice bump into each other.