verb (used without object)
to rest or remain on the surface of a liquid; be buoyant: The hollow ball floated.
to move gently on the surface of a liquid; drift along: The canoe floated downstream.
to rest or move in a liquid, the air, etc.: a balloon floating on high.
to move lightly and gracefully: She floated down the stairs.
to move or hover before the eyes or in the mind: Romantic visions floated before his eyes.
to pass from one person to another: A nasty rumor about his firm is floating around town.
to be free from attachment or involvement.
to move or drift about: to float from place to place.
to vacillate (often followed by between ).
to be launched, as a company, scheme, etc.
(of a currency) to be allowed to fluctuate freely in the foreign-exchange market instead of being exchanged at a fixed rate.
(of an interest rate) to change periodically according to money-market conditions.
Commerce. to be in circulation, as an acceptance; be awaiting maturity.
verb (used with object)
to cause to float.
to cover with water or other liquid; flood; irrigate.
to launch (a company, scheme, etc.); set going.
to issue on the stock market in order to raise money, as stocks or bonds.
to let (a currency or interest rate) fluctuate in the foreign-exchange or money market.
to make smooth with a float, as the surface of plaster.
Theater. to lay down (a flat), usually by bracing the bottom edge of the frame with the foot and allowing the rest to fall slowly to the floor.
something that floats, as a raft.
something for buoying up.
an inflated bag to sustain a person in water; life preserver.
(in certain types of tanks, cisterns, etc.) a device, as a hollow ball, that through its buoyancy automatically regulates the level, supply, or outlet of a liquid.
Nautical. a floating platform attached to a wharf, bank, or the like, and used as a landing.
Aeronautics. a hollow, boatlike structure under the wing or fuselage of a seaplane or flying boat, keeping it afloat in water.
Angling. a piece of cork or other material for supporting a baited line in the water and indicating by its movements when a fish bites.
Zoology. an inflated organ that supports an animal in the water.
a vehicle bearing a display, usually an elaborate tableau, in a parade or procession: Each class prepared a float for the football pageant.
a glass of fruit juice or soft drink with one or more scoops of ice cream floating in it: a root-beer float.
(especially in the northeastern U.S.) a milk shake with one or more scoops of ice cream floating in it.
paddle1 ( def 6 ).
Banking. uncollected checks and commercial paper in process of transfer from bank to bank.
the total amount of any cost-of-living or other variable adjustments added to an employee's pay or a retiree's benefits: a float of $6 per month on top of Social Security benefits.
an act or instance of floating, as a currency on the foreign-exchange market.
Building Trades.
a flat tool for spreading and smoothing plaster or stucco.
a tool for polishing marble.
a single-cut file of moderate smoothness.
a loose-fitting, sometimes very full dress without a waistline.
(in weaving and knitting) a length of yarn that extends over several rows or stitches without being interworked.
British. a sum of money used by a storekeeper to provide change for the till at the start of a day's business.
British. a small vehicle, usually battery powered, used to make deliveries, as of milk.
a low-bodied dray for transporting heavy goods.
Geology, Mining.
loose fragments of rock, ore, etc., that have been moved from one place to another by the action of wind, water, etc.
ore that has been washed downhill from an orebody and is found lying on the surface of the ground.
any mineral in suspension in water.
Usually, floats. British Theater, footlights.

before 1000; Middle English floten, Old English flotian; cognate with Old Norse flota, Middle Dutch vloten; akin to Old English flēotan to fleet2

outfloat, verb (used with object)
refloat, verb

3. hover, waft, drift, suspend.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
float (fləʊt)
1.  to rest or cause to rest on the surface of a fluid or in a fluid or space without sinking; be buoyant or cause to exhibit buoyancy: oil floats on water; to float a ship
2.  to move or cause to move buoyantly, lightly, or freely across a surface or through air, water, etc; drift: fog floated across the road
3.  to move about aimlessly, esp in the mind: thoughts floated before him
4.  to suspend or be suspended without falling; hang: lights floated above them
5.  (tr)
 a.  to launch or establish (a commercial enterprise, etc)
 b.  to offer for sale (stock or bond issues, etc) on the stock market
6.  (tr) finance to allow (a currency) to fluctuate against other currencies in accordance with market forces
7.  (tr) to flood, inundate, or irrigate (land), either artificially or naturally
8.  (tr) to spread, smooth, or level (a surface of plaster, rendering, etc)
9.  something that floats
10.  angling an indicator attached to a baited line that sits on the water and moves when a fish bites
11.  a small hand tool with a rectangular blade used for floating plaster, etc
12.  chiefly (US) any buoyant object, such as a platform or inflated tube, used offshore by swimmers or, when moored alongside a pier, as a dock by vessels
13.  Also called: paddle a blade of a paddle wheel
14.  (Brit) a buoyant garment or device to aid a person in staying afloat
15.  a hollow watertight structure fitted to the underside of an aircraft to allow it to land on water
16.  another name for air bladder
17.  an exhibit carried in a parade, esp a religious parade
18.  a motor vehicle used to carry a tableau or exhibit in a parade, esp a civic parade
19.  a small delivery vehicle, esp one powered by batteries: a milk float
20.  (Austral), (NZ) a vehicle for transporting horses
21.  chiefly (US) banking the total value of uncollected cheques and other commercial papers
22.  chiefly (US), (Canadian) a sum to be applied to minor expenses; petty cash
23.  a sum of money used by shopkeepers to provide change at the start of the day's business, this sum being subtracted from the total at the end of the day when calculating the day's takings
24.  the hollow floating ball of a ballcock
25.  engineering a hollow cylindrical structure in a carburettor that actuates the fuel valve
26.  chiefly (US), (Canadian) a carbonated soft drink with a scoop of ice cream in it
27.  (in textiles) a single thread brought to or above the surface of a woven fabric, esp to form a pattern
28.  forestry a measure of timber equal to eighteen loads
[Old English flotian; related to Old Norse flota , Old Saxon flotōn; see fleet²]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

O.E. flotian "to float" (class II strong verb; past tense fleat, pp. floten), from P.Gmc. *flutojanan (cf. O.N. flota, M.Du. vloten). Related: Floated; floating. The noun is attested from early 12c., "state of floating" (O.E. flot meant "body of water"); meaning "platform on wheels used for displays
in parades, etc." is from 1888, probably from earlier sense of "flat-bottomed boat" (1557). Floater "dead body found in water" is 1890, U.S. slang.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
float   (flōt)  Pronunciation Key 
An air-filled sac in certain aquatic organisms, such as kelp, that helps maintain buoyancy. Also called air bladder, air vesicle.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences for floated
There were a couple of ideas that had previously floated for the fifth series.
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