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From Middle English floteren, from Old English floterian, flotorian (to float about, flutter). 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 (Project Gutenberg; EBook #14852), New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, published 1 February 2005 (Project Gutenberg version), 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.



Wikipedia has an article on:

flutter (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. (audio, electronics) The rapid variation of signal parameters, such as amplitude, phase, and frequency.

Derived terms[edit]