fleer

1 of 2

verb

fleered; fleering; fleers

intransitive verb

: to laugh or grimace in a coarse derisive manner : sneer
fleeringly adverb

fleer

2 of 2

noun

archaic
: a word or look of derision or mockery

Did you know?

Fleer first appeared in English as a verb (fleryen in Middle English) meaning "to laugh, grin, or grimace in a coarse manner." The verb is of Scandinavian origin and is akin to the Norwegian flire, meaning "to giggle." The noun fleer first and most famously appeared in William Shakespeare's tragedy Othello, in which the evil Iago invites Othello to observe the signs of his wife's unfaithfulness in the visage of her supposed lover, Cassio: "And mark the fleers, the gibes, and notable scorns / That dwell in every region of his face…."

Choose the Right Synonym for fleer

scoff, jeer, gibe, fleer, sneer, flout mean to show one's contempt in derision or mockery.

scoff stresses insolence, disrespect, or incredulity as motivating the derision.

scoffed at their concerns

jeer suggests a coarser more undiscriminating derision.

the crowd jeered at the prisoners

gibe implies taunting either good-naturedly or in sarcastic derision.

hooted and gibed at the umpire

fleer suggests grinning or grimacing derisively.

the saucy jackanapes fleered at my credulity

sneer stresses insulting by contemptuous facial expression, phrasing, or tone of voice.

sneered at anything romantic

flout stresses contempt shown by refusal to heed.

flouted the conventions of polite society

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English fleryen, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian flire to giggle

First Known Use

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1604, in the meaning defined above

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

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near fleer

Cite this Entry

“Fleer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fleer. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!