Definition of flibbertigibbet
: a silly flighty person
flibbertigibbetyplay \ˌfli-bər-tē-ˈji-bə-tē\ adjective
flibbertigibbet was our Word of the Day on 03/13/2009. Hear the podcast!
Examples of flibbertigibbet in a sentence
forced to endure a long flight with a flibbertigibbet as a seat companion
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. 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.
Origin and Etymology of flibbertigibbet
Middle English flepergebet
First Known Use: 15th century
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