Definition of flivver
: a small cheap usually old automobile
flivver was our Word of the Day on 07/13/2011. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
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."
Origin and Etymology of flivver
First Known Use: 1910See Words from the same year
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up flivver? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).