fil·​lip | \ ˈfi-ləp How to pronounce fillip (audio) \
filliped; filliping; fillips

Definition of fillip

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to make a filliping motion with
b : to strike or tap with a fillip filliped him on the nose
2 : to project quickly by or as if by a fillip fillip crumbs off the table
3 : stimulate with this to fillip his spirits— Robert Westerby



Definition of fillip (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a blow or gesture made by the sudden forcible straightening of a finger curled up against the thumb
b : a short sharp blow : buffet
2 : something tending to arouse or excite: such as
a : stimulus just the fillip my confidence needed lent a fillip of danger to the sport
b : a trivial addition : embellishment showy fillips of language
c : a significant and often unexpected development : wrinkle plot twists and fillips

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Did You Know?


Like "flip" and "flick," "fillip" is considered a phonetic imitation of the sharp release of a curled-up finger aimed to strike something. Language history suggests that people were "filliping" in the 15th-century, well before they were "flipping" (1567) and "flicking" (1629). Specifically, "fillip" describes a strike or gesture made by the sudden straightening of a finger curled up against the thumb - a motion commonly referred to as "a flick." It didn't take long before the sensational stinging smartness of filliping was extended to figurative use. "I mark this in our old Mogul's wine; it's quite as deadening to some as filliping to others," observes Herman Melville's Dutch sailor of wine's "stimulating" effect in Moby Dick.

Examples of fillip in a Sentence

Verb used a splash of orange-flavored liqueur to fillip the otherwise ordinary cranberry sauce Noun a structural fillip that will add much to the appearance of the building lent a fillip of danger to the sport
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Not just because of the potential revival of IS and the fillip to Mr Assad. The Economist, "Donald Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds is a blow to America’s credibility," 17 Oct. 2019 An extra fillip on the main floor is the 24-foot bonus room. Judy Rose, Detroit Free Press, "$2.8M Bloomfield Township mansion is dramatic, inside and out," 25 Jan. 2020 The only fillip the appetizer requires is parked nearby: brown soda bread with dreamy Irish butter. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, "In Dublin, Chapter One begins and ends with pampering," 20 Nov. 2019 Abandoning plans to form a national champion and retrenching to focus on core clients might not give either bank’s stock price an immediate fillip. Washington Post, "Put Germany’s Big Banking Merger Out of Its Misery," 5 Apr. 2019 Adding eating it on the occasion of the birth of the Christ Child is a fillip. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, "Get Cooking: How to make panettone bread pudding," 24 Dec. 2019 The share of yuan in global currency trade, stuck at a modest 4.3%, would get a fillip. Andy Mukherjee | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Libra Retreat Would Bring Joy and Relief to Asia," 23 Oct. 2019 In a possible fillip for retail demand, the offering will be Hong Kong’s first fully paperless listing, according to Reuters. Washington Post, "Alibaba’s Hong Kong Share Sale Is Feeling Lucky," 16 Nov. 2019 There were also fillips for ordinary Taiwanese, such as allowing them to seek help from Chinese consulates when travelling—something that has happened on occasion in the past but has now been formalised. The Economist, "China tries to deepen economic ties with Taiwan yet more," 7 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fillip.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fillip


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1519, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for fillip


probably of imitative origin

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Time Traveler for fillip

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The first known use of fillip was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Fillip.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for fillip



English Language Learners Definition of fillip

: an added part or feature that makes something more interesting or exciting

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