Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[flurt] /flɜrt/
verb (used without object)
to court triflingly or act amorously without serious intentions; play at love; coquet.
to trifle or toy, as with an idea:
She flirted with the notion of buying a sports car.
to move with a jerk or jerks; dart about:
butterflies flirting from flower to flower.
verb (used with object)
to give a sudden or brisk motion to; wave smartly, as a fan.
to throw or propel with a toss or jerk; fling suddenly.
Also, flirter. a person who is given to flirting.
a quick throw or toss; sudden jerk or darting motion.
1540-50; expressive word; compare similar initial cluster in flap, flick1, flip1, and final elements of squirt, spurt, etc.
Related forms
flirtingly, adverb
1. tease. 1, 2. dally. 6. minx, coquette, tease. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for flirting
  • Brightening his colors and flirting with different styles didn't seem to help.
  • The temperature outside was flirting with sub-zero temperatures, but hundreds of people lined up early to get in.
  • The former is still flirting with economic and political collapse, the latter has simply exploded.
  • Organizing or attending protests gets fitted between flirting, studying, and holding down a job.
  • For both purveyors and consumers of personal ad romance, the effectiveness of flirting in column inches has not yet been proved.
  • These days, we're flirting with technological infinity.
  • At night they continued the party into the wee hours online, chatting and flirting.
  • And you have to recognize that you're flirting with things that could create a stall.
  • After flirting with more complicated and faddish products, the company has decided to move back to simpler offerings.
  • She stated that the slap occurred because she had smiled at a hotel doorman and the respondent interpreted the smile as flirting.
British Dictionary definitions for flirting


(intransitive) to behave or act amorously without emotional commitment; toy or play with another's affections; dally
(intransitive) usually foll by with. to deal playfully or carelessly (with something dangerous or serious); trifle: the motorcyclist flirted with death
(intransitive) usually foll by with. to think casually (about); toy (with): to flirt with the idea of leaving
(intransitive) to move jerkily; dart; flit
(transitive) to subject to a sudden swift motion; flick or toss
a person who acts flirtatiously
Derived Forms
flirter, noun
flirty, adjective
flirtingly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for flirting



1550s, originally "to turn up one's nose, sneer at," then "to rap or flick, as with the fingers" (1560s). The noun is first attested 1540s, from the verb, with the meaning "stroke of wit." It's possible that the original word was imitative, along the lines of flip (v.), but there seems to be some influence from flit, such as in the flirt sense of "to move in short, quick flights," attested from 1580s.

Meanwhile flirt (n.) had come to mean "a pert young hussey" [Johnson] by 1560s, and Shakespeare has flirt-gill (i.e. Jill) "a woman of light or loose behavior," while flirtgig was a 17c. Yorkshire dialect word for "a giddy, flighty girl." All or any of these could have fed into the main modern verbal sense of "play at courtship" (1777), which also could have grown naturally from the earlier meaning "to flit inconstantly from object to object" (1570s), perhaps influenced by Old French fleureter "talk sweet nonsense," also "to touch a thing in passing," diminutive of fleur "flower" and metaphoric of bees skimming from flower to flower.

The noun meaning "person who flirts" is from 1732. The English word also is possibly related to East Frisian flirt "a flick or light blow," and flirtje "a giddy girl." French flirter "to flirt" is a 19c. borrowing from English. Related: Flirted; flirting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for flirt

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for flirting

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with flirting

Nearby words for flirting