flut·ter | \ˈflə-tər \
fluttered; fluttering; flutters

Definition of flutter 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to flap the wings rapidly butterflies fluttering among the flowers

2a : to move with quick wavering or flapping motions a sail fluttering in the wind

b : to vibrate in irregular spasms his heart fluttered

3 : to move about or behave in an agitated aimless manner She nervously fluttered around the office.

transitive verb

: to cause to flutter The bird was fluttering its wings.



Definition of flutter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of fluttering

2a : a state of nervous confusion or excitement

b : flurry, commotion

c : abnormal spasmodic fluttering of a body part treatment of atrial flutter

3a : a distortion in reproduced sound similar to but of a higher pitch than wow

b : fluctuation in the brightness of a television image

4 : an unwanted oscillation (as of an aileron or a bridge) set up by natural forces

5 chiefly British : a small speculative venture or gamble

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Other Words from flutter


flutterer \ˈflə-tər-ər \ noun
fluttery \ˈflə-tər-ē \ adjective

Synonyms for flutter

Synonyms: Verb

dance, dart, flick, flicker, flirt, flit, flitter, zip

Synonyms: Noun

burst, flare, flare-up, flash, flicker, flurry, outbreak, outburst, spurt

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Examples of flutter in a Sentence


The bird was fluttering its wings. The bird's wings were fluttering. We watched the butterflies fluttering in the garden. Leaves fluttered to the ground. The breeze made the curtains flutter. The breeze fluttered the curtains. She fluttered her eyelashes at him. She nervously fluttered around the office.


With a flutter of wings, the birds settled into the nest. The flutter of the flame cast shadows on the ceiling. He was in a flutter until he found his keys. The news of her resignation caused quite a flutter. have a flutter on a horse in the second race
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Giant hissing, blood-sucking, fluttering animatronic bugs. Stephan Salisbury, Philly.com, "What to see in Philadelphia's museums this summer," 6 June 2018 Walleyes aggressively struck our flies, typically as the rig was lowered and the bait fluttered toward the riverbed. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Wolf River walleye run signals start of spring in Wisconsin," 31 Mar. 2018 The best in the bunch were paired with cloud-like floral puffer coats and jackets, a cool complement to Quinn’s fluttering silhouette. Sarah Mower, Vogue, "The Top 10 Collections of London Fashion Week," 21 Feb. 2018 Storm Reid, then 13 and playing A Wrinkle in Time’s protagonist, Meg Murry, flutters her eyes. Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY, "Exclusive: Go behind the scenes of 'A Wrinkle in Time' with Oprah Winfrey," 19 Feb. 2018 Beyond that, modeling suggests that the main heat in the country flutters back and forth between the Western and Central United States instead of here in the East. Matt Rogers, Washington Post, "June Washington weather outlook: Sticky and soggy, not unlike May," 31 May 2018 Various suits both painted and embroidered with the flora and fauna to be found in the gardens were hat tips to the 19th century collectors who had once fluttered through. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "Male Patterned Boldness: Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Sartoria Ode to Villa Carlotta," 9 July 2018 The town will flutter with bunting and ceremonial banners, and there will be live entertainment from local groups throughout the town center. Katie Nicholl, Vanities, "Royal Wedding: All the Date, Time, and Streaming Info a Royal-Obsessive Needs," 11 May 2018 Amidst the heaviness the Atlanta band occasionally left some space for Andy Hull’s fragile falsetto to soar, like a butterfly fluttering through a war zone. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Review: Arcade Fire burns hot enough to consume a few flaws at Summerfest," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As ballot boxes were brought into the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, the only noise was the flutter of votes being tallied, recalls Andrew Mitchell, a local Conservative MP. The Economist, "Local elections may show a reconfiguration of British politics," 26 Apr. 2018 Listen to the chirps, whirs and flutter of the creatures that still stir and witness the night-blooming plants. Sonja Haller, azcentral, "Best kids things to do in Phoenix in July: Splash pad parties, shark feeds and free fun," 28 June 2018 Listen to the chirps, whirs and flutter of the creatures that still stir and witness the night-blooming plants. Sonja Haller, azcentral, "Best kids things to do in Phoenix this June: Westgate, Phoenix Art Museum, movie nights," 1 June 2018 Listen to the chirps, whirs and flutter of the creatures that still stir and witness the night-blooming plants. Sonja Haller, azcentral, "Best kids things to do in Phoenix this June: Westgate, Phoenix Art Museum, movie nights," 1 June 2018 Delirious sounds pumping out of a Farfisa organ flutter and spin around a droning backbeat. Travis M. Andrews, chicagotribune.com, "Forty years ago, 'Rock Lobster' launched the career of the B-52s — and revived John Lennon's," 6 Apr. 2018 These drugs were Sutent and Inlyta, which both treat renal cell carcinoma, and Tikosyn, which treats arrhythmia in patients with atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pfizer agrees to pay nearly $24M for illegally using a charity to pay kickbacks to Medicare patients," 24 May 2018 But with Harry and Meghan getting married away from London and at Windsor Castle, which does not have a balcony, royal fans were a flutter at the thought that this iconic moment won’t happen. Rebecca Angel Baer, Southern Living, "The History of The Royal Balcony Kiss," 18 May 2018 While pouring cream into his coffee, his hand flutters and misses. refinery29.com, "Westworld Season 2, Episode 4 Recap: "The Riddle Of The Sphinx"," 14 May 2018

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1641, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for flutter


Middle English floteren to float, flutter, from Old English floterian, frequentative of flotian to float; akin to Old English flēotan to float — more at fleet


see flutter entry 1

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Statistics for flutter

Last Updated

2 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for flutter

The first known use of flutter was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for flutter



English Language Learners Definition of flutter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

of a bird or insect : to move or flap the wings quickly without flying

: to fly lightly with quick beats of the wings

: to move with quick, light movements



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

: a quick, light movement

: a state of excitement or confusion

: a small bet


flut·ter | \ˈflə-tər \
fluttered; fluttering

Kids Definition of flutter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to move the wings rapidly without flying or in making short flights Butterflies fluttered over the garden.

2 : to move with a quick flapping motion Flags fluttered in the wind.

3 : to move about excitedly Salesclerks fluttered about the store.



Kids Definition of flutter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of moving or flapping quickly a flutter of wings

2 : a state of excitement The contestants were all in a flutter.


flut·ter | \ˈflət-ər \

Medical Definition of flutter 

: an abnormal rapid spasmodic and usually rhythmic motion or contraction of a body part diaphragmatic flutter affected with ventricular flutter

Other Words from flutter

flutter intransitive verb

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