flib·​ber·​ti·​gib·​bet ˌfli-bər-tē-ˈji-bət How to pronounce flibbertigibbet (audio)
: a silly flighty person
flibbertigibbety adjective

Did you know?

Flibbertigibbet is one of many incarnations of the Middle English word flepergebet, meaning "gossip" or "chatterer" (others include flybbergybe, flibber de' Jibb, and flipperty-gibbet). It is a word of onomatopoeic origin, created from sounds that were intended to represent meaningless chatter. William Shakespeare apparently saw a devilish aspect to a gossipy chatterer; he used flibbertigibbet in King Lear as the name of a devil. This use never caught on, but the devilish connotation of the word reappeared over 200 years later when Sir Walter Scott used Flibbertigibbet as the nickname of an impish urchin in the novel Kenilworth. The impish meaning derived from Scott's character was short-lived and was laid to rest by the 19th-century's end, leaving us with only the "silly flighty person" meaning.

Example Sentences

forced to endure a long flight with a flibbertigibbet as a seat companion
Recent Examples on the Web Projects about Monroe have handled her personal life to varying degrees of success, often leaning into her flibbertigibbet persona, her struggles with addiction, and the paradox of her oozing sexuality and her little girl brokenness. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 24 Jan. 2023 Miranda Hart is touching as the flibbertigibbet Miss Bates, whom Emma thoughtlessly mocks. Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Feb. 2020 The thought leader of the hippie girls is played by that avatar of feminine passive-aggressive flibbertigibbet solipsism, Lena Dunham, the polar opposite of the no-nonsense, two-fisted, self-contained, masculine ideal represented by Cliff. Kyle Smith, National Review, 13 Dec. 2019 Instead of acting cool and sophisticated our narrator prattled like a flibbertigibbet. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 6 Apr. 2018 Warning: The book has my three-year-old calling her grandmother a flibbertigibbet. Megan Gambino, Smithsonian, 18 Dec. 2017 And never mind that its mother is a flibbertigibbet who has no business having a baby. Matt Giles, Longreads, 29 Sep. 2017 See More

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

Word History


Middle English flepergebet

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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


Dictionary Entries Near flibbertigibbet

Cite this Entry

“Flibbertigibbet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flibbertigibbet. Accessed 10 Jun. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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