flim·​flam | \ ˈflim-ˌflam How to pronounce flimflam (audio) \

Definition of flimflam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : deceptive nonsense


flimflammed; flimflamming

Definition of flimflam (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to subject to a flimflam

Other Words from flimflam


flimflammer noun
flimflammery \ ˈflim-​ˌfla-​mə-​rē How to pronounce flimflam (audio) \ noun

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English is full of words concerned with trickery and deception, ranging from the colorful "flimflam," "bamboozle," and "hornswoggle" to the more mundane "deceive," "mislead," and "delude." "Flimflam" first entered English as a noun meaning "deceptive nonsense" in the second half of the 16th century. A sense meaning "deception" or "fraud" soon developed. The verb use didn't show up until well into the next century. In addition to general deceiving or tricking, the verb "flimflam" is often used specifically to refer to swindling someone out of money. The ultimate origin of "flimflam" is uncertain, but the word is probably of Scandinavian origin and may be related to the Old Norse flim, meaning "mockery."

Examples of flimflam in a Sentence

Noun The report is just a lot of corporate flimflam. giving the new guy at work her cell phone number—“in case of an emergency”—was just a flimflam to pique his romantic interest Verb everyone likes to think that they're too smart to be flimflammed by anyone
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Instead, Democrats should present voters with a material choice between a party that has nothing to offer the majority of Americans but abuse and conspiratorial flimflam and a party committed to building a democracy and an economy that work for all. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, 5 Feb. 2021 Might that statement actually be a bit of protective flimflam? Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 26 Feb. 2020 There’s always seemed to be a bit of flimflam behind that gigglemug of his. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, 4 Dec. 2019 Zirin does not get lost in the clouds of flimflam that have spewed out of Trump for decades, which other biographers have taken as their mission to prove or disprove. Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2019 The telltale sign of political flimflam is a promise to deliver all the benefits associated with a particular policy without any of the costs. Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post, 7 Nov. 2019 The far-reaching, proposed climate legislation championed by liberal lawmakers Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, and derided by Trump as economic flimflam, aims to tackle climate change. Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY, 5 Sep. 2019 Voters’ civic duty lies in applying their best judgment to separate the fact from the flimflam. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, 17 Jan. 2019 Once the flimflam is removed, stocks and bonds are telling a consistent story of a slower but still-growing economy. James Mackintosh, WSJ, 30 Aug. 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flimflam.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of flimflam


circa 1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1660, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for flimflam


perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse flim mockery

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The first known use of flimflam was circa 1538

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Dictionary Entries Near flimflam



flimflam artist/man

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Cite this Entry

“Flimflam.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flimflam. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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