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

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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 But mostly, The Kitchen flounders, taking one page from Quentin Tarantino here and another from Martin Scorsese there, without ever finding its own sense of authorship. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "The Kitchen Wastes a Sizzling Idea and Terrific Ingredients," 9 Aug. 2019 The main course features restaurant specialties, such as sauteed flounder, chicken piccata, veal marsala and shrimp primavera. Chris Shelton, Houston Chronicle, "Roundups: Zammitt’s joins Houston Restaurant Weeks, new HR solutions firm debuts in Kingwood," 18 July 2019 Hundreds of other Bering Sea and Gulf boats area also targeting cod, flounders, rockfish, and myriad other whitefish. Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska’s commercial salmon season is off to a mixed start," 19 June 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Saikawa's resignation comes as Nissan is floundering in the critical American market, where sales fell 5.9% in the first eight months of 2019, compared with the previous year. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa resigns as chaos continues at Nissan after Carlos Ghosn scandal," 9 Sep. 2019 That will give it less room to act if the economy flounders for other reasons. The Economist, "The trade war escalates, and the fog of war descends," 8 Aug. 2019 As the Heat floundered last season, missing the playoffs and finishing with a losing record, Whiteside lost his starting job to second-year center Bam Adebayo and saw a drastic reduction in playing time. Joe Freeman, oregonlive.com, "Hassan Whiteside seeks ‘fresh start’ after landing in a ‘perfect situation’ with Portland Trail Blazers," 11 July 2019 Intimacy is an important part of a romantic relationship, and one of the first areas to suffer if feelings are floundering. Kimberly Dawn Neumann, Woman's Day, "How to Rekindle a Marriage, According to Experts," 27 Feb. 2019 Costco has reported robust quarterly sales in recent years, even as other retailers floundered in the face of online competition. Patrick Thomas, WSJ, "Sales Rise at Costco, but Fall Short of Expectations," 13 Dec. 2018 As the team floundered in its attacking third, with Marta providing the team’s only two chances of the game, the veteran forward’s frustration wore through. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Marta roars back into NWSL play ready to challenge Pride teammates," 17 Aug. 2018 From a business standpoint the league initially floundered, but a number of the league’s stars were more than content returning to the diamond. Ben Pickman, SI.com, "Remembering the Short-Lived, Ill-Fated Senior Professional Baseball Association," 28 Aug. 2019 VMware and Dell formed Pivotal in 2013 to concentrate on big data analytics, but the spinoff has floundered since going public in 2018 at $15 per share. Fortune, "Why Twitter Has Regrets About Killing Vine. Hint: It’s Called TikTok—Data Sheet," 15 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for flounder

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
How to pronounce flounder (audio)

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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