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 The filets — flounder, my server told me, and there are many — swim in a broth equal parts murky and beautiful. Amy Drew Thompson, orlandosentinel.com, "Numb’s the word at Taste of Chengdu’s new Baldwin Park outpost," 12 Nov. 2020 Then he was judged a clueless flounder by halftime. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "49ers soar, crash; leave New Orleans with heads down, hopes alive," 15 Nov. 2020 Trifari will take a look at specks of muscle from walleye pollock, Atka mackerel, flounder, Pacific cod, rockfish and sculpin that are waiting in a UAF freezer. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, "Steller sea lions from the western Aleutians have a higher level of mercury. Where does it come from?," 31 Oct. 2020 Harvesting for flounder will resume at 12:01 a.m. on December 1. al, "Flounder season closed during November," 20 Oct. 2020 As negotiations over the next COVID-19 stimulus package flounder, Federal Reserve officials are pushing for greater fiscal support from Congress. Alexander William Salter, National Review, "Fiscal Stimulus Is Ineffective. The Fed Requesting It Is Even Worse.," 12 Oct. 2020 Rosters turn over all the time, players blossom, flounder, and play through pain or don’t play at all. Bradford William Davis, courant.com, "Blake Snell is the Rays' ace, but not their best option against the Yankees," 3 Oct. 2020 Local flatfish, such as sole, sand dabs and flounder, tend to be lean and are more difficult. SFChronicle.com, "To grill a gorgeous whole salmon, anoint the grate with oil. Lots and lots of oil," 27 Sep. 2020 At Pelican Island, find more than 140 species of birds (including the refuge’s namesake) as well as over 200 species of fish — including smalltooth sawfish sturgeon, pipefish, goby, tarpon, flounder, ladyfish, mackerel, bluefish, American eel. Kathleen Christiansen, orlandosentinel.com, "National Wildlife Day: 7 places to appreciate animals in Florida," 4 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Resilient kids don’t have some kind of superpower that helps them persevere while others flounder. Vanessa Lobue, The Conversation, "Stressful times are an opportunity to teach children resilience," 28 Sep. 2020 Ultimately, the coach's fate might be tied to his ability to make a viable starter out of Mitchell Trubisky — or his willingness to bench the fourth-year veteran if the offense continues to flounder. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "NFL coach hot seat rankings: Matt Patricia, Adam Gase already on notice ahead of Week 1," 8 Sep. 2020 An interest can also flounder if someone relevant crushes it, even unwittingly. Brett Berk, Car and Driver, "Playing with Cars: How Kids Become Adults Obsessed with Machines," 9 Aug. 2020 Shows like Pan y Circo depend on the suitability of the topics for group conversation and the chemistry of the guests — and unfortunately, the producers mostly flounder on both counts. Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Pan y Circo': TV Review," 6 Aug. 2020 Ride-hailing and food-delivery businesses are locked in a fierce battle for market share even as the lockdown measures imposed by authorities to combat the global coronavirus pandemic cause their core operations to flounder. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Gig workers sound off on the Uber-Postmates deal: ‘It’s like an embezzler buying a bank’," 7 July 2020 Hwaji Shin, who teaches sociology at the University of San Francisco, expressed concern about college employees feeling financial pressure to work in risky conditions, especially at a time of budget cuts prompted by the floundering economy. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "The next 100 days: How the coronavirus will continue to change your life at home, at work, at school and beyond," 27 May 2020 These are the first of a wave of deep cuts expected to be announced by some of the biggest players in global travel this week, as an already floundering industry faces many more months of difficulty. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "Thousands of jobs have been cut at the world’s biggest travel companies, and it’s only Tuesday," 5 May 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

1 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Flounder.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flounder. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

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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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