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 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 This increase in revenue is a welcome fillip for a country struggling to close the 2019 budget deficit of a whopping 2.18 trillion Naira. Stephen Onyeiwu, Quartz Africa, "Nigeria needs a competent customs service, not border closure," 28 Oct. 2019 Some of the stylistic fillips feel excessive, and at the end of the day, this is just a tawdry, gory B-picture, with little to say about human behavior. Los Angeles Times, "Review: A funny, intense ‘Harpoon,’ Aaron Paul, a terrifying ‘Clown’ and more," 3 Oct. 2019 That looks like a fillip for Comac, especially considering the problems of Boeing’s 737 Max, which was grounded by Beijing’s regulators after two crashes in five months and now will be potentially excluded from a China-U.S. trade deal. Washington Post, "China Inc.’s Boeing Rival Just Won’t Fly," 20 Sep. 2019 Yet two decades on, the film has become a fillip for internet trolls. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "The Gig Economy Is Under Attack, But Not for the First Time—Data Sheet," 12 Sep. 2019 China pepped up its economy with faster credit growth and other fillips to spending. The Economist, "Crude thinkingWhy the oil price is so high," 18 Jan. 2018 The response from creditors is a fillip to the government of left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras which is trailing rival conservatives in opinion polls ahead of a general election next year. Raf Casert, The Seattle Times, "Greece: Creditors approve U-turn on pension cuts," 21 Nov. 2018

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.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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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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Comments on fillip

What made you want to look up fillip? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


very cautious or careful

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