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

transitive verb

: to make a filliping motion with
: to strike or tap with a fillip
filliped him on the nose
: to project quickly by or as if by a fillip
fillip crumbs off the table
: stimulate
with this to fillip his spiritsRobert Westerby


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

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 and flicking. 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
Recent Examples on the Web
The new styling is essentially S550 with less fillip and more sneer. Sam Smith, Car and Driver, 25 Aug. 2023 The move will provide a further fillip to New Delhi’s attempt to position the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, or GIFT City, as an alternative trading center to Singapore and Dubai. Subhadip Sircar,, 5 June 2023 Leverage policy Companies would do well to use policies and regulations to provide a fillip to their deep tech efforts. François Candelon, Fortune, 2 June 2023 The streamers have been able to give the genre another, more technical fillip. Patrick Frater, Variety, 14 Apr. 2023 Go First’s loss is IndiGo’s again The low-cost carrier’s abrupt move has left its customers confused while giving a fillip to IndiGo, India’s largest airline. Niharika Sharma, Quartz, 3 May 2023 But as institutions like the Hammer confront the challenges of trying to emerge from the pandemic, these kinds of partnerships, which were once a fun fillip for patrons spending an afternoon at a museum or an evening at a concert hall, are taking on new urgency. Adam Nagourney, New York Times, 27 Nov. 2021 That gave the economy a fillip, Altberg said. Samanth Subramanian, Quartz, 25 Feb. 2021 Peacoats had a bit of a fillip at the back; jackets, just a bit of Poirot-like padding; gingham and leopard and Watteau florals, a faded kind of glory. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, 1 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fillip.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



probably of imitative origin

First Known Use


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


1519, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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


Dictionary Entries Near fillip

Cite this Entry

“Fillip.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a feature added to attract interest
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