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

Chest heaving and eyes fluttering, the 3-year-old boy lay silently on a hospital ward in the highland town of Hajjah, a bag of bones fighting for breath. Declan Walsh, The Seattle Times, "The tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen," 26 Oct. 2018 The ensemble also came equipped with hundreds of fluttering butterflies carried down the runway by a full entourage of shadowy figures – not kidding. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "If You Thought Gigi Hadid's Wedding Dress Was Crazy From the Front, Wait Until You See the Back," 21 Sep. 2018 Its architecture of four minarets and nine domes tipped with crescent moons would be at home anywhere in the Islamic world, save for the large red and yellow Chinese flags fluttering from the ramparts and the wide central staircase. Sam Mcneil, Fox News, "China blames local officials for protest over mosque razing," 30 Aug. 2018 On state media Thursday, the streets of Daraa appeared calm as the national flag - still eschewed by the opposition - fluttered in the wind and military officials strolled around greeting elderly residents. Louisa Loveluck, chicagotribune.com, "Syrian army raises flag above city considered birthplace of uprising against Assad," 12 July 2018 Rather than fluttering away in a display of beauty, the butterflies crawled around the stage aimlessly. Patrick Crowley, Billboard, "'RuPaul's Drag Race': 5 Memorable Moments From Season 10 Finale," 28 June 2018 There’s a fluttering kinship between them, like starlings or Aspen trees. Maggie Lange, The Cut, "Some Thoughts on the Tassel Earring," 28 June 2018 And branches with their new leaves were bowing and fluttering in the breeze. Anne Gusewelle, kansascity, "Hunt for morels brings back happy memories and rush of grief, gratitude," 16 June 2018 The other came off a tip by Everson Griffen at the line that sent the ball fluttering into Anthony Barr’s arms at the Minnesota 10-yard line to thwart the next possession. Dave Campbell, The Seattle Times, "Vikings top Saints rally with last-play stunner in 29-24 win," 14 Jan. 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

11 Dec 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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Comments on flutter

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having a pattern of small flowers

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