...we flounder, we lose breath, on the other hand—that is we fail, not of continuity, but of an agreeable unity, of the "roundness" in which beauty and lucidity largely reside—when we go in, as they say, for great lengths and breadths.
-- Henry James, Theory of Fiction, 1908
Guilt and defensiveness are bricks in a wall against which we all flounder; they serve none of our futures.
-- Audre Lorde, "Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism," Sister Outsider, 1984
Though the origin of flounder is unknown, it is thought to have come from the Dutch flodderen meaning "to flop about." This verb entered English in the late sixteenth century.