"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[floun-der] /ˈflaʊn dər/
verb (used without object)
to struggle with stumbling or plunging movements (usually followed by about, along, on, through, etc.):
He saw the child floundering about in the water.
to struggle clumsily or helplessly:
He floundered helplessly on the first day of his new job.
Origin of flounder1
1570-80; perhaps blend of flounce1 and founder2
Related forms
flounderingly, adverb
unfloundering, adjective
2. falter, waver, muddle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for floundering
  • The ripple effects of the floundering stock market and the poor economy are finally hitting home in college fund raising, a new.
  • The outside world's efforts to persuade the government to pursue a peaceful solution are floundering.
  • Nobody knows who first thought of using wooden boards to glide over snow rather than floundering through it.
  • We actually spent quite a lot of time floundering around.
  • Hapless efforts to rescue the floundering financial and property sectors only reinforce that feeling.
  • With so many people out of work, bold and creative ideas are needed to revive floundering economies.
  • Huh says he'll give a floundering site a month or two before shutting it down and repurposing the content.
  • Maintaining underperforming and floundering programs at the expense of healthy programs violates that trust.
  • The economy was soaring, and the opposition floundering.
  • Frustration begat resentment which begat lack of focus which begat a floundering career.
British Dictionary definitions for floundering


verb (intransitive)
to struggle; to move with difficulty, as in mud
to behave awkwardly; make mistakes
the act of floundering
Usage note
Flounder is sometimes wrongly used where founder is meant: the project foundered (not floundered) because of a lack of funds
Word Origin
C16: probably a blend of founder² + blunder; perhaps influenced by flounder²


noun (pl) -der, -ders
Also called fluke. a European flatfish, Platichthys flesus having a greyish-brown body covered with prickly scales: family Pleuronectidae: an important food fish
(US & Canadian) any flatfish of the families Bothidae (turbot, etc) and Pleuronectidae (plaice, halibut, sand dab, etc)
Word Origin
C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse flythra, Norwegian flundra
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 floundering



1590s, perhaps an alteration of founder (q.v.), influenced by Dutch flodderen "to flop about," or native verbs in fl- expressing clumsy motion. Figurative use is from 1680s. Related: Floundered; floundering. As a noun derived from this sense, from 1867.


flatfish, c.1300, from Anglo-French floundre, from Old North French flondre, from Old Norse flydhra; related to Middle Low German vlundere, Danish flynder; ultimately cognate with Greek platys "flat, wide, broad" (see plaice (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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