fliv·​ver | \ ˈfli-vər How to pronounce flivver (audio) \

Definition of flivver

: a small cheap usually old automobile

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Did You Know?

In 1908, Henry Ford changed the world with the Model T, the first affordable automobile. English speakers quickly coined an array of colorful terms for the Model T and the other relatively inexpensive cars that followed it. No one is sure why cheap cars came to be called "flivvers," but we do know that in the early 1900s that colorful term was also used as a slang verb meaning "to fail," as in "If this film flivvers, I'll be in trouble." In Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang, author Tom Dalzell lists "flivver" (which made its print debut in 1910, just two years after the Model T hit the streets) among a number of terms applied to "the humble Ford." Others included "bone crusher," "bouncing Betty," "Henry's go-cart," "puddle jumper," "Spirit of Detroit," and "Tin Lizzie."

Examples of flivver in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the background are two flivvers, which brought them there over bouncy roads. Frederick N. Rasmussen, baltimoresun.com, "The history of Maryland’s first state park, Patapsco Valley State Park," 30 Aug. 2019 Leader of the campaign is a white man, the county health officer, a former Georgia farm boy who drove a flivver through fields of mud, 36 miles a day to medical school. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "How the Public Learned About the Infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study," 25 July 2017

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

First Known Use of flivver

1910, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for flivver

origin unknown

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The first known use of flivver was in 1910

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Cite this Entry

“Flivver.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flivver. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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