flut·​ter | \ ˈflə-tər How to pronounce flutter (audio) \
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
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 How to pronounce flutterer (audio) \ noun
fluttery \ ˈflə-​tər-​ē How to pronounce fluttery (audio) \ 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

Now, the book flutters with Post-It Notes denoting women’s few inclusions and her bafflement at some of the choices: Cleopatra. Stephanie Ebbert, BostonGlobe.com, "Barbara Lee champions equality for women," 1 July 2019 Streamers the colors of the flags of the United States and United Kingdom fluttered throughout the stadium. James Wagner, New York Times, "Yankees Leave London With ‘Eye-Opening’ Wins Over Red Sox," 30 June 2019 Butterflies fluttered through her stomach, a rare sensation for Samantha Mewis. Helene Elliott, latimes.com, "World Cup newcomer Samantha Mewis sidesteps the butterflies to lead U.S. past Sweden," 21 June 2019 Ocasio-Cortez’s eyes widen, her hands flutter in agitation, then go to cover her mouth. Danielle Tcholakian, Longreads, "An Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Reading List," 10 July 2018 The cub was given the name Babochka, which means butterfly in Russian, by her keepers because her ears flutter like a butterfly’s wings whenever she nurses, according to the Toledo Zoo’s Facebook. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "Baby Snow Leopard Babs of the Toledo Zoo Is 2.5 Pounds of Fierceness," 12 June 2019 But a plastic bag waving in the deep ocean currents could be difficult to distinguish from a fluttering squid. Alejandra Borunda, National Geographic, "This pregnant whale died with 50 pounds of plastic in her stomach," 2 Apr. 2019 The only shot the Jets sent on target over the first 11-plus minutes was the one by Wheeler that went in, a wide-angle attempt on the power play that hit Jonas Brodin's stick and fluttered toward Dubnyk. Stephen Whyno, baltimoresun.com, "Blue Jackets' Calvert scores in OT, puts Capitals in 2-0 series hole heading to Columbus," 16 Apr. 2018 On March 30, royalty, aristocracy, dignitaries, and film stars fluttered into the Salle des Etoiles, Monaco’s premiere event venue. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "When Royalty Mingled With an Italian Elvis: Inside Bal de la Rose, Monaco’s Most Glamorous Night," 4 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Right behind that came the rich shock of chocolate, followed by a flutter of nuts. Ruth Reichl, Town & Country, "This English Toffee is the Best Candy in the World," 6 June 2019 That’s like telling the difference between the dragonfly’s flutter and the hum of a locust. Quanta Magazine, "The Neuroscience Behind Bad Decisions," 23 Aug. 2016 With the proliferation of professional services and extension salons offering semipermanent solutions to a full-on flutter, the go-to desert-island essential—with its lengthening, thickening, inky finish—is being discussed in analog terms. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "8 New Cutting-Edge Mascaras That Will Transform Your Lashes," 1 Mar. 2019 Here, there, a flash, a flutter, an ecstasy of shrillings remind us that not all the birds have flown south. Danny Heitman, WSJ, "An Ode to Holiday Companionship," 21 Dec. 2018 Photo: dado ruvic/Reuters Political wagers remain a small part of the £14.4 billion U.K. gambling industry, which is dominated by people having a flutter on sports like soccer and horse-racing. Avantika Chilkoti, WSJ, "What Betting Markets Have to Say About Brexit," 24 Dec. 2018 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

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

Verb and Noun

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

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Statistics for flutter

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

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)

: 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
British, informal : a small bet


flut·​ter | \ ˈflə-tər How to pronounce flutter (audio) \
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 How to pronounce flutter (audio) \

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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Comments on flutter

What made you want to look up flutter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to complain fretfully

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