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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 spirits Robert 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.

Example Sentences

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
Ayyub played another student leader, a tyro named Shiva Shekhar—not quite the main role, but a key one nevertheless, and a fillip to his career. Samanth Subramanian, The New Yorker, 10 Oct. 2022 That fillip was separate from a temporary 15% bump in benefits as part of pandemic relief. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 27 Sep. 2022 Having a price on carbon is likely to mean a fillip to work that recharges our natural ecosystem. Pawan Mehra, Forbes, 9 Aug. 2022 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party is returning to power in the country's richest state, Maharashtra, giving it a fillip ahead of the 2024 national election after an unlikely ruling alliance of parties crumbled after more than two years. Reuters, CNN, 30 June 2022 Counterpoint data also shows that almost all Chinese smartphones sold in India are made in India—a fillip to the Modi’s government’s goal of fashioning India as an electronics manufacturing hub. Megha Mandavia, WSJ, 16 May 2022 Investors will also be keenly looking at the dividend as the carrier’s profit gets a fillip from a faster 5G subscriber net addition in June and cost cutting measures. Shirley Zhao,, 12 Aug. 2021 Adding to the gloom, Summers (rightly) worries about the way that ultra-low interest rates do give a fillip to one type of investment: malinvestment . . . Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 13 Nov. 2021 Such a move would constitute a fillip to the West but China has already been warm in its diplomatic response to the Taliban. Mike O'sullivan, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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 5 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



: a feature added to attract interest
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