8 Words That Are Older Than You Think


[fluht-er] /ˈflʌt ər/
verb (used without object)
to wave, flap, or toss about:
Banners fluttered in the breeze.
to flap the wings rapidly; fly with flapping movements.
to move in quick, irregular motions; vibrate.
to beat rapidly, as the heart.
to be tremulous or agitated.
to go with irregular motions or aimless course:
to flutter back and forth.
verb (used with object)
to cause to flutter; vibrate; agitate.
to throw into nervous or tremulous excitement; cause mental agitation; confuse.
a fluttering movement:
He made little nervous flutters with his hands.
a state of nervous excitement or mental agitation:
a flutter of anticipation.
Audio. a variation in pitch resulting from rapid fluctuations in the speed of a recording.
Compare wow2 (def 1).
Chiefly British. a small wager or speculative investment.
before 1000; Middle English floteren, Old English floterian, frequentative of flotian to float
Related forms
flutterer, noun
flutteringly, adverb
unfluttered, adjective
unfluttering, adjective
2. See fly1 . 10. flurry, twitter, stir, dither. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for fluttering
  • He hops and shakes, wings flapping or tucked in, chin whiskers fluttering.
  • Sparrows seem pleasant, but fluttering feathers can hide vicious claw-to-claw combat at feeders.
  • Optimists hear the fluttering of good fairies' wings.
  • Winding down the flank of the mountain, there is a graceful fluttering in the woods off to the side of the road.
  • As she flies she calls to him by modulating the whine of her fluttering wings.
  • Some early bat fossils suggest that they may have shifted from gliding to alternating between gliding and bursts of fluttering.
  • All the scurrying and fluttering about now seem to him a sort of nebulous, beloved maternal figure.
  • The fluttering of their wings reduces the moisture content of the honey.
  • Dancers, while fluttering one leg in the air, suddenly and softly contract their torsos.
  • Bat found on ground on cement patio, wings fluttering, could not fly.
British Dictionary definitions for fluttering


to wave or cause to wave rapidly; flap
(intransitive) (of birds, butterflies, etc) to flap the wings
(intransitive) to move, esp downwards, with an irregular motion
(intransitive) (pathol) (of the auricles of the heart) to beat abnormally rapidly, esp in a regular rhythm
to be or make nervous or restless
(intransitive) to move about restlessly
(swimming) to cause (the legs) to move up and down in a flutter kick or (of the legs) to move in this way
(transitive) (Brit, informal) to wager or gamble (a small amount of money)
a quick flapping or vibrating motion
a state of nervous excitement or confusion
excited interest; sensation; stir
(Brit, informal) a modest bet or wager
(pathol) an abnormally rapid beating of the auricles of the heart (200 to 400 beats per minute), esp in a regular rhythm, sometimes resulting in heart block
(electronics) a slow variation in pitch in a sound-reproducing system, similar to wow but occurring at higher frequencies
a potentially dangerous oscillation of an aircraft, or part of an aircraft, caused by the interaction of aerodynamic forces, structural elastic reactions, and inertia
(swimming) See flutter kick
(music) Also called flutter tonguing. a method of sounding a wind instrument, esp the flute, with a rolling movement of the tongue
Derived Forms
flutterer, noun
flutteringly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English floterian to float to and fro; related to German flattern; see 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 fluttering



Old English floterian "to flutter, fly, flicker, float to and fro, be tossed by waves," frequentative of flotian "to float" (see float (v.)). Related: Fluttered; fluttering. As a noun from 1640s; meaning "state of excitement" is 1740s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fluttering in Medicine

flutter flut·ter (flŭt'ər)
Abnormally rapid pulsation, especially of the atria or ventricles of the heart.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for fluttering


in sound reproduction, waver in a reproduced tone or group of tones that is caused by irregularities in turntable or tape drive speed during recording, duplication, or reproduction. Low-frequency irregularities (as one per revolution of a turntable, referred to as "once arounds") cause wow and are recognized aurally as fluctuations in pitch. Irregularities that occur at higher frequencies are called flutter and cause a roughening of the tone: a piano sounds like a harp, and voices waver with small, rapid variations above and below proper pitch. Included among the causes of flutter and wow in disks are high spots in drive rollers and an off-centre hole in the disk. In tape and film reproducers, characteristic causes include nonuniform tension in take-up and payoff reels and mechanical distortion of the tape. Low-frequency background noise, either recorded on disk or tape from the recording mechanism or added to the reproduced tone from the reproducing mechanism, is known as rumble and is usually the result of vibration of the drive mechanism

Learn more about flutter with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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