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flotsam

[flot-suh m] /ˈflɒt səm/
noun
1.
the part of the wreckage of a ship and its cargo found floating on the water.
Compare jetsam, lagan.
2.
material or refuse floating on water.
3.
useless or unimportant items; odds and ends.
4.
a vagrant, penniless population:
the flotsam of the city slums in medieval Europe.
Also called flotsam and jetsam (for defs 3, 4).
Origin
1600-1610
1600-10; < Anglo-French floteson, derivative of floter to float < Old English flotian
Can be confused
flotsam, jetsam.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for flotsam jetsam

flotsam

/ˈflɒtsəm/
noun
1.
wreckage from a ship found floating Compare jetsam (sense 1), lagan
2.
useless or discarded objects; odds and ends (esp in the phrase flotsam and jetsam)
3.
vagrants
Word Origin
C16: from Anglo-French floteson, from floter to float
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
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Word Origin and History for flotsam jetsam

flotsam

n.

c.1600, from Anglo-French floteson, from Old French flotaison "a floating," from floter "to float" (of Germanic origin; see float) + -aison, from Latin -ation(em). Spelled flotsen till mid-19c. when it altered, perhaps under influence of many English words in -some.

In British law, flotsam are goods found floating on the sea as a consequence of a shipwreck or action of wind or waves; jetsam are things cast out of a ship in danger of being wrecked, and afterward washed ashore, or things cast ashore by the sailors. Whatever sinks is lagan. Figurative use for "odds and ends" attested by 1861.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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