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 Britain’s military spending is a fillip to NATO at a time when Mr. Biden also hopes to shore up the alliance. Mark Landler, New York Times, "Johnson Pins U.K. Future on U.S. Ties, as European Bonds Loosen," 16 Mar. 2021 Politically, the fillip to the Scotch whisky industry could also help Johnson at a time when a number of polls suggest there is majority support in Scotland for independence from Britain. Adrian Croft, Fortune, "Whisky redemption: Biden administration lifts hated tariffs on Scotland’s most famous export," 4 Mar. 2021 Recall that President Trump reinstated $300 in weekly benefits in August by reappropriating FEMA funds, but that fillip lapsed in most states in October. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Schumer’s Unemployment Flip-Flop," 9 Dec. 2020 And, oddly, it has been given a fillip by a messy election result at home. The Economist, "Why dollar assets are still riding high after America’s election," 7 Nov. 2020 Microsoft seemed ahead, and got a late fillip from Walmart joining its bid. The Economist, "Oracle’s Trump card Who are the TikTok saga’s biggest winners?," 16 Sep. 2020 L’Etoile later tells me every table is treated to the fillip, which happens to be gluten-free. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, "These three restaurants can help you keep date night on your to-do list," 21 Aug. 2020 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

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

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Fillip.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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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