flounder

noun
floun·​der | \ ˈflau̇n-dər How to pronounce flounder (audio) \
plural flounder or flounders

Definition of flounder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: flatfish especially : any of various marine fishes (families Pleuronectidae, Paralichthyidae, and Bothidae) that include important food fishes

flounder

verb
floundered; floundering\ ˈflau̇n-​d(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce flounder (audio) \

Definition of flounder (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to struggle to move or obtain footing : thrash about wildly The poor horse was floundering in the mud.
2 : to proceed or act clumsily or ineffectually the normally surefooted governor floundered a moment like a prize pupil caught unpreparedTime

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Synonyms for flounder

Synonyms: Verb

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Did You Know?

Verb

Despite the fact that flounder is a relatively common English verb, its origins in the language remain obscure. It is thought that it may be an alteration of an older verb, founder. To founder is to become disabled, to give way or collapse, or to come to grief or to fail. In the case of a waterborne vessel, to founder is to sink. The oldest of these senses of founder, "to become disabled," was also used, particularly in reference to a horse and its rider, for the act of stumbling violently or collapsing. It may have been this sense of founder that later appeared in altered form as flounder in the sense of "to stumble."

Examples of flounder in a Sentence

Verb The horses were floundering through the deep snow. He was floundering around in the pool like an amateur. After watching me flounder for a few minutes, my instructor took over.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Favorites on the menu included Greek chicken, pork, shrimp Creole, grilled flounder and roast leg of lamb, along with steaks and seafood. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, "15 Birmingham restaurants that are gone but not forgotten," 7 Apr. 2021 If a deal isn’t reached by July, and the Cowboys flounder again in 2021, the team could choose to move forward without a cap hit like the Eagles recently bore in trading away Carson Wentz. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "Here's where Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott stand before franchise tag deadline: Five things to know," 8 Mar. 2021 Fishing continues in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea for pollock, cod, flounder and many other kinds of fish. Anchorage Daily News, "Seafarers union looks to Alaska as it seeks hundreds of apprentice workers on contracted vessels," 13 Apr. 2021 The month-long halt to harvesting flounder was announced via a news release Tuesday by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. al, "Flounder season closed during November," 20 Oct. 2020 But a normal day of catching whiting, croakers, flounder, gafftopsail catfish, and the like took a turn when one of my two rods indicated a hit. David A. Rose, Field & Stream, "This Giant Gulf Sturgeon Could Be One of the Rarest Fish Ever Caught in the Surf," 15 Mar. 2021 Hopes of quickly ending a pandemic that has killed about 280,000 people here are eroding as government efforts to secure enough vaccines flounder. Ryan Dube, WSJ, "U.S. Economic Recovery, Higher Fuel Prices Force Brazil’s Hand in Rate Rise," 17 Mar. 2021 That's even worse than Wells Fargo (+3 points), which saw its popularity flounder for years following its fake accounts scandal. Fortune, "Robinhood’s brand is severely damaged: 56% of account holders are considering leaving the app," 19 Feb. 2021 The sandwich, featuring flaky flounder, builds off the great success of its chicken sandwich introduced in August 2019. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Popeyes releases new Cajun flounder sandwich, includes option for insurance," 12 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Bills long opposed by Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo and other beverage companies continue to flounder. Samantha Young, San Francisco Chronicle, "California soda tax bill dies in another win for Big Soda," 19 Apr. 2021 German engineers expressed concern that the ship's knife-like hull could lead it to flounder or even capsize. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Good News: The USS Zumwalt Can Stay Afloat in Rough Seas," 17 Mar. 2021 After the half, the Warriors continued to flounder while Purcell Marian started getting shots to fall. Alex Harrison, The Enquirer, "Purcell Marian clinches spot in state tournament with Division III regional title victory," 6 Mar. 2021 As the depleted Lakers continue to flounder through midseason games that are essentially two hours of garbage time, their best player is insistent on playing garbage minutes, and LeBron James needs to just tell himself no. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, "Column: LeBron James needs rest to chase a title, not more minutes and an MVP," 25 Feb. 2021 The DREAM Act for immigrant minors was first introduced nearly 20 years ago, only to flounder in Congress, leading Mr. Obama to create DACA in 2012 as a temporary reprieve. Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, "Biden proposes a path to citizenship. Some Dreamers have already bailed.," 5 Feb. 2021 Even though GameStop's shares continued to flounder, the idea of a GameStop surge was taking hold. Tyler Van Dyke, Washington Examiner, "Reddit users push GameStop stocks up 400%, prompting trading halt," 25 Jan. 2021 The league has seen the Lions flounder for far too long and — with two inexperienced football people in charge (owner Sheila Ford Hamp and president Rod Wood) — is trying to provide some guidance to put the organization on the right path. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Here's what could change Detroit Lions' general manager search," 7 Dec. 2020 Sunshine cascades through the generous windows of the I.C.U., but the rays seem to flounder once in the rooms—an aubade without an audience. Danielle Ofri, The New Yorker, "A Bellevue Doctor’s Pandemic Diary," 1 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flounder.' 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 flounder

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for flounder

Noun

Middle English, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian flundra flounder

Verb

probably alteration of founder

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Time Traveler for flounder

Time Traveler

The first known use of flounder was in the 15th century

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Statistics for flounder

Last Updated

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Flounder.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flounder. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for flounder

flounder

noun

English Language Learners Definition of flounder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a type of fish that has a flat body and that is eaten as food

flounder

verb

English Language Learners Definition of flounder (Entry 2 of 2)

: to move in an awkward way with a lot of difficulty and effort
: to be unsure about what to do or say
: to have a lot of problems and difficulties

flounder

noun
floun·​der | \ ˈflau̇n-dər How to pronounce flounder (audio) \

Kids Definition of flounder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a flatfish used for food

flounder

verb
floundered; floundering

Kids Definition of flounder (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to struggle to move or get footing The horses were floundering in the mud.
2 : to behave or do something in a clumsy way I floundered through the speech.

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