flo·​til·​la | \ flō-ˈti-lə How to pronounce flotilla (audio) \

Definition of flotilla

1 : a fleet of ships or boats especially : a navy organizational unit consisting of two or more squadrons of small warships
2 : an indefinite large number a flotilla of changes

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Did You Know?

Flotilla comes from the diminutive form of the Spanish noun flota, meaning "fleet." Flota derives via Old French from Old Norse "floti" and is related to Old English "flota" ("ship"), an ancestor to our word float. Much like other words referring to groups of particular things (such as "swarm"), "flotilla" has taken on expanded usage to refer simply to a large number of something not necessarily having to do with nautical matters, often with humorous effect (e.g., "a flotilla of rather mature-looking male models" - Jed Perl, The New Republic).

Examples of flotilla in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web An existing flotilla of more than 80 microsatellites owned by the startup Spire Global captures signals that have traversed the atmosphere from GPS satellites to measure key properties such as temperature and humidity. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "Microsatellites will capture GPS reflections to sharpen weather forecasts," 11 Dec. 2019 Imagine a flotilla of Wampanoag canoes crosses the Atlantic and goes to England, and then the Wampanoags buy land from the English there. Claire Bugos, Smithsonian, "The Myths of the Thanksgiving Story and the Lasting Damage They Imbue," 27 Nov. 2019 This December, flotillas covered from bow to stern in Christmas lights and elves, dancing Santa Clauses and reindeer will deck our waterways during several holiday boat parades across South Florida. Phillip Valys, sun-sentinel.com, "Boats and ho ho hos: Holiday boat parades light up South Florida Intracoastal," 4 Dec. 2019 The tule reed craft will be accompanied on the bay crossing by a small flotilla of modern boats, in case a rescue is in the cards. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, "Reeds, hands and old ways come together to make Ohlone boat to paddle to Alcatraz," 13 Oct. 2019 Published in 1973, the dystopian novel details how a flotilla of Indian migrants reach France’s southern coast to invade the country. New York Times, "A Racist Book’s Malign and Lingering Influence," 22 Nov. 2019 Crisp, light and colorful, these are streamlined versions of the drink to which you might be accustomed, mint-garnished and free of that familiar fruit flotilla. Amy Drew Thompson, orlandosentinel.com, "Disney Springs: Celebrity chef José Andrés has a heavenly hit in Jaleo," 1 Aug. 2019 Bensouda earlier declined a request by the Indian Ocean island nation of Comoros to investigate the May 31, 2010, storming of a vessel in the flotilla, which was sailing under a Comoros flag. Washington Post, "ICC judges order prosecutor to review Gaza flotilla decision," 3 Sep. 2019 The boat was accompanied into New York by a flotilla of 17 sailboats the United Nations organized — one for each of the 17 U.N. goals to end poverty and preserve the environment by 2030, including action to prevent climate change. Washington Post, "Teen activist sails across Atlantic to go to climate meeting," 28 Aug. 2019

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

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First Known Use of flotilla

1711, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for flotilla

Spanish, diminutive of flota fleet, from Old French flote, from Old Norse floti; akin to Old English flota ship, fleet — more at float

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Time Traveler for flotilla

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The first known use of flotilla was in 1711

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Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Flotilla.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flotilla. Accessed 29 January 2020.

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More Definitions for flotilla


How to pronounce flotilla (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of flotilla

: a group of small ships


flo·​til·​la | \ flō-ˈti-lə How to pronounce flotilla (audio) \

Kids Definition of flotilla

: a fleet of usually small ships

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More from Merriam-Webster on flotilla

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for flotilla

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flotilla

Spanish Central: Translation of flotilla

Nglish: Translation of flotilla for Spanish Speakers

Comments on flotilla

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to assert without proof or before proving

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