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 floundering (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

blunder, bumble, flog [British], limp, lumber, plod, struggle, stumble, trudge

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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

Worryingly, about a third of the time, the halibut was actually raw olive flounder, which commonly contains parasites. Gemma Zoe Price, WSJ, "The Fish Industry Is Plagued by Poor Quality and Fraud. One Chef Is Working to Combat It," 19 July 2018 The researchers aren’t saying sea bass and flounder would no longer be found off areas such as the New Jersey coast, but their main habitats could move, forcing fishing operations to roam further, spending more time at sea and burning more gas. Frank Kummer, Philly.com, "N.J. flounder, sea bass pushed north because of climate change, say scientists," 18 May 2018 Cod, pollock, flounders and other whitefish are being hauled in from the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. Laine Welch, Anchorage Daily News, "For Alaska sockeye salmon, record highs in Bristol Bay, record lows nearly everywhere else," 9 July 2018 The company has bet on appliance sales as rival Sears Holdings flounders. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "J.C. Penney stock plunges as cold weather zaps sales," 17 May 2018 Summertime highlights include Buffalo brussels sprouts with blue cheese mousse, bluefish cakes, and fish tacos made with Vineyard flounder. Alyssa Giacobbe, Town & Country, "T&C Travel Guide: The Best of Martha's Vineyard," 13 June 2018 When studying populations of a flounder-like North Sea fish called plaice in the early 1900’s, a man named Heincke noticed that older, larger fish are found deeper in the water than younger, smaller fish. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Ecological “law” turns out to just be the result of us fishing," 8 June 2018 That word was originally used to describe an early GMO tomato variety that contained a flounder gene. Kevin Begos, Smithsonian, "The Quest to Grow the First Great American Wine Grape," 6 June 2018 But Virak Uy, a Cambodian refugee who is the director of the college’s new Program for Asian American Student Advancement, had no intention of letting her flounder. Linda K. Wertheimer, New York Times, "At Middlesex Community College, Extra Help for Asian Students," 5 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

While Shirley’s feminist company prospered, other British computing companies using outdated, discriminatory business practices floundered, dragging down their industry as a whole. Marie Hicks, The Verge, "The long history behind the Google Walkout," 9 Nov. 2018 Mexico’s oil production has dropped 26 percent since 2013, largely due to lower international crude prices during that time frame, and Pemex, the national oil company now stripped of its monopoly status, has been floundering. Rob Nikolewski, sandiegouniontribune.com, "What happens to Mexico's energy reform — and Sempra — if the presidential front runner wins?," 31 May 2018 No flounder this time, but Steele had landed several while fishing the tide change the evening before. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "Bay food chain comes to life with tide change," 14 Apr. 2018 Michigan is coming off an 8-5 season in which its offense floundered under Harbaugh, a former quarterback who had a reputation for developing QBs. Genaro C. Armas, The Seattle Times, "COLLEGE FOOTBALL ’18: Key transfers from Big House to Bayou," 6 Aug. 2018 That case was eventually dismissed after Congress gave AT&T and other telecom companies retroactive immunity under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008; similar lawsuits floundered, too. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "The Snowden Legacy, part one: What’s changed, really?," 21 Nov. 2018 The homer was a reminder of the threat the Phillies missed while their offense floundered when Hoskins was on the disabled list. Matt Breen, Philly.com, "A refreshed Rhys Hoskins is finding success again after returning to Phillies lineup," 16 June 2018 Relying on outdated and inaccurate census data, the foundation’s vaccine distribution floundered; some areas ran short of doses while others wound up with great excesses. Emily Strasser, Curbed, "A secret city opens up," 8 Aug. 2018 Its performance improved only after the manager, Dima, turned the sound system off—suggesting that Pilot would flounder in thumping Moscow nightclubs. Dylan Love, WSJ, "Can Smart Earbuds Instantly Translate Foreign Speech?," 29 June 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near flounder

FLOTUS

flounce

flouncing

flounder

flounderingly

flour

flour beetle

Statistics for flounder

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Time Traveler for flounder

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

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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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