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

From the moment a flotilla of pro and anti-Brexit boats dueled on the Thames outside Parliament the week of the Brexit vote, the tone was set for successive national absurdities. Tina Brown, Time, "Tina Brown: How Britain Lost the Plot Over Brexit," 6 June 2019 The river doesn’t need to be an attraction for a flotilla of plastic boats. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Kayaks on Guadalupe River may scatter turtles and fish," 5 June 2019 And among this new space flotilla were small satellites representing the vanguard for a new generation of global surveillance. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "How Small Satellites Will Help Police Earth's Vast Oceans," 4 Feb. 2019 The naval flotilla includes several thousand U.S. Marines deployed on amphibious vessels capable of landing behind enemy lines. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Pentagon Scales Back Joint U.S./South Korean Military Exercises," 26 Nov. 2018 At least eight ships, including a missile cruiser and two missile-carrying submarines, have joined the Russian flotilla over the past three weeks. Fox News, "NATO reports Russian naval buildup amid Syria tensions," 29 Aug. 2018 The latest is Record of a Spaceborn Few, which follows the descendants of the last flotilla of starships to depart Earth, who have clung to their way of life aboard the aging fleet. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Our favorite science fiction and fantasy books of 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 In that book, Dr. Rose explored the experience of 10,000 blacks in Port Royal, S.C., who were freed early in the Civil War when a Union flotilla captured the city in 1861 and plantation owners fled. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Willie Lee Rose, Historian of Reconstruction, Dies at 91," 27 June 2018 The Israeli Navy stormed a similar pro-Palestinian flotilla organized by Turkish charity in 2010, an incident in which nine Turkish activists were killed. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, "Turkey’s Rise Sparks New Friendship Between Israel and Greece," 21 July 2018

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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Statistics for flotilla

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for flotilla

The first known use of flotilla was in 1711

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More Definitions for flotilla



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flotilla

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for flotilla

Spanish Central: Translation of flotilla

Nglish: Translation of flotilla for Spanish Speakers

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