flounder

1 of 2

noun

floun·​der ˈflau̇n-dər How to pronounce flounder (audio)
plural flounder or flounders
: flatfish
especially : any of various marine fishes (families Pleuronectidae, Paralichthyidae, and Bothidae) that include important food fishes

flounder

2 of 2

verb

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

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

Did you know?

Flounder is a relatively common verb that current evidence dates to the late 16th century, when it was likely born by means of an alteration of an older verb, founder. The two have been confused ever since. Today, founder is most often used as a synonym of fail, or, in the case of a waterborne vessel, as a word meaning "to fill with water and sink." Formerly, it was also frequently applied when a horse stumbled badly and was unable to keep walking. It's likely this sense of founder led to the original and now-obsolete meaning of flounder: "to stumble." In modern use, flounder typically means "to struggle" or "to act clumsily"; the word lacks the finality of founder, which usually denotes complete collapse or failure, as that of a sunken ship.

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Choose from flounder, perch or whiting on a bun with tartar sauce. Heidi Finley, Charlotte Observer, 13 Feb. 2024 Hop aboard a boat called Sailfish for a 70-minute excursion through the Mississippi Sound, catching shrimp along with blue crabs, flounder, squid, and other local marine life. Kelsey Ogletree, Southern Living, 16 Jan. 2024 Snowy flounder, sour cabbage and glassy thin noodles add up to a restorative soup, and squiggles of lamb, garlic and crisp green bell peppers, everything smoky from the wok, arrive with a blast of red chiles and cumin. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 27 Nov. 2023 The High-Low Surf Fishing Rig Although the high-low rig can be used for larger targets like bluefish, striped bass, and red drum, it’s typically reserved for smaller fish like croakers, seatrout, flounder, and pompano. Joe Cermele, Field & Stream, 26 Oct. 2023 The officials on Wednesday had sashimi of flounder, octopus and sea bass, which was caught off the Fukushima coast, along with rice harvested in the prefecture, according to Economy and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who was at the lunch meeting. Julia Mio Inuma, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2023 As the Egyptian economy flounders, Sisi may also see an opportunity to squeeze debt relief and other concessions from Western countries and international institutions in exchange for agreeing to humanitarian aid corridors and facilitating the departure from Gaza of foreign nationals. Lisa Anderson, Foreign Affairs, 25 Oct. 2023 Republicans’ anti-Trump effort flounders as the former president cruises ahead So far, not a single rival campaign or their related super PACs have devoted significant advertising funds for explicitly attacking former President Donald Trump. Elizabeth Both, NBC News, 25 Sep. 2023 Whole flounder is fried to a crisp, deboned and delivered to the table with a flotilla of fresh herbs, woven rice noodles and lettuce to accompany the snowy fish. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 22 Sep. 2023
Verb
The smartphone revolution was in full swing, and Google and Apple were charging ahead, while Microsoft’s efforts to build a mobile business were floundering. Gerrit De Vynck, Washington Post, 31 Jan. 2024 And in 2016, when his solar power company SolarCity was floundering, the Tesla board waved through a merger into Tesla that rescued the solar firm’s shareholders at the expense of Tesla’s. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 31 Jan. 2024 As the past year progressed, regional employment appeared to flounder. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Jan. 2024 Right now, boys in public schools across the state are more likely than girls to be suspended, expelled, or floundering. Daniel Foster, National Review, 30 Nov. 2023 While each proposal has been trumpeted as a key element in the fight against crime, and some have passed on an emergency basis, others have floundered in committees, and no individual bill has emerged as a defining response to a seemingly intractable problem. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2024 Efforts to pursue the two-state solution repeatedly floundered. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 1 Feb. 2024 Its studio competitors had floundered during the strikes, with smaller international slates to lean on during the production freezes. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 24 Jan. 2024 Local authorities say the absence of regulations has left them floundering with little assistance for solutions, unsure of the need for transparency to the public and potentially saddled with huge costs. Kevin Spear, Orlando Sentinel, 8 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'flounder.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

Verb

probably alteration of founder

First Known Use

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near flounder

Cite this Entry

“Flounder.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flounder. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

flounder

1 of 2 noun
floun·​der ˈflau̇n-dər How to pronounce flounder (audio)
plural flounder or flounders
: flatfish
especially : any of various important marine food fishes

flounder

2 of 2 verb
floundered; floundering -d(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce flounder (audio)
: to struggle or go clumsily
floundering through the deep snow
Etymology

Noun

Middle English flounder "a flatfish"; of Scandinavian origin

Verb

probably an altered form of founder "to go lame, collapse"

More from Merriam-Webster on flounder

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