Word of the Day : August 12, 2011


verb FIL-up


1 a : to strike by holding the nail of a finger against the ball of the thumb and then suddenly releasing it from that position

b : to make a filliping motion with

2 : to project quickly by or as if by a fillip : snap

3 : to urge on : stimulate

Did You Know?

Like "flip" and "flick," "fillip" is considered a phonetic imitation of the sharp release of a curled-up finger aimed to strike something. Language history suggests that people were "filliping" in the 15th-century, well before they were "flipping" (1567) and "flicking" (1629). Specifically, "fillip" describes a strike or gesture made by the sudden straightening of a finger curled up against the thumb -- a motion commonly referred to as "a flick." It didn't take long before the sensational stinging smartness of filliping was extended to figurative use. "I mark this in our old Mogul's wine; it's quite as deadening to some as filliping to others," observes Herman Melville's Dutch sailor of wine's "stimulating" effect in Moby Dick.


Inexplicably, Carl walked up to his baby sister and filliped her on the nose.

"'Moonlight Mile' is everything that Lehane readers have come to expect: a tight story filliped with unexpected turns, delivered in prose that goes down easily." -- From a book review by Robin Vidimos in The Denver Post, October 31, 2010

Test Your Memory

What recent Word of the Day can mean "an ornamental tuft" or "flamboyance in style and action"? The answer is ...


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!