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 filliping motion : 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 and flicking. 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.
As their parents finished up dinner, the two boys entertained themselves at the table by filliping crumbs into an overturned cup.
"He leaves behind a business … which senior sources say will deliver record pre-tax profits in the region of [euros] 30 million this year, filliped by strong fundraising and private client business and surging stock markets." — Róisín Burke, The Sunday Business Post (Ireland), 7 Dec. 2014
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
What 4-letter word is a synonym of fillip that can mean "to stimulate" or "to sharpen by rubbing on or with something"?VIEW THE ANSWER
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