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

The crowd looked like an enormous flock of fluttering white doves. S.b. | Cali, The Economist, "A festival in Cali celebrates peace as well as Pacific music," 26 Aug. 2019 Jackson generally avoided the sidearm releases and fluttering misfires that made critics question his passing skills last season. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "Five Things We Learned from the Ravens’ 29-0 preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars," 9 Aug. 2019 Out of the mist, riders shot by like apparitions, silence cut by the sound of wet-suit tails fluttering and their boards pushing water, leaving a brief trail of wake, only to disappear again. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Athletic director resigns at scandal-plagued USC," 10 Sep. 2019 Live video from the Frying Pan Tower shows that the flag is torn but is still fluttering proudly. David Williams, CNN, "American flag torn but still flying at former Coast Guard station after Hurricane Dorian," 6 Sep. 2019 The vintage taxidermy pieces are startling: Visitors are met by an impala in the dining room, while a brace of flamingos and peacocks flutters feathers in the living room. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "These 6 European Apartments Are Basically Private Design Hotels," 23 Aug. 2019 Doris Weiserova, one year younger, sketched butterflies fluttering through a flowery meadow. The Economist, "Historical memorials are not enough to stop anti-Semitism in Europe," 22 Aug. 2019 After a three-city, three-time zone, sweltering road trip, the Giants welcomed the cool breezes fluttering around Oracle Park on Monday. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "Giants’ fate may be determined during this homestand," 5 Aug. 2019 But now, with Skye bleeding like a stuck pig, Camila was an attentive nurse, fluttering around the American like a concerned butterfly. Stephanie Green, chicagotribune.com, "2019 Algren Awards: Finalist: Host Mother," 20 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Keenan’s voice is gentler—older—intact, still hovering and swerving, still making its folky dips and flutters, but with hardly a tight-chested scream on the whole album. James Parker, The Atlantic, "The Persistent Complexity of Tool," 24 Aug. 2019 Mainlanders keen for a flutter must travel to Macau’s extravagant casinos or to Hong Kong’s jockey clubs. The Economist, "The Chinese state manages the world’s second-biggest lottery industry," 29 Aug. 2019 Some awkward ambient occlusion here; an unnatural animation flutter there. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Lion King remake review: Roaring visuals, but the execution is a hairball," 12 July 2019 During the heat of the day, the bass are mostly at 20 feet and more on the shell bars and ledges—jigs and flutter spoons will catch some of them, says Barton; www.brianoutdoors.com. Frank Sargeant, al, "Get Friday Fishing Report, plus info on conservation banquet in Birmingham," 16 Aug. 2019 My flutter of fear caused by Morrison’s daunting, leonine presence, at the beginning of the semester, quickly settled into cheerful enthusiasm. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "The Indelible Substance of a Semester with Toni Morrison," 7 Aug. 2019 The excitement over the flutter of life the Giants showed in July is indicative of the deep pull this team still has on the Bay Area. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "Giants’ fate may be determined during this homestand," 5 Aug. 2019 Downriver, best bite is on shell bars at 25 feet on football head jigs or flutter spoons. Frank Sargeant, al.com, "Friday Fishing Report: Find out what’s working and where," 12 July 2019 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

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

16 Oct 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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