Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To wave or flap rapidly in an irregular manner: curtains that fluttered in the breeze.
  • intransitive v. To fly by a quick light flapping of the wings.
  • intransitive v. To flap the wings without flying.
  • intransitive v. To move or fall in a manner suggestive of tremulous flight: "Her arms rose, fell, and fluttered with the rhythm of the song” ( Evelyn Waugh).
  • intransitive v. To vibrate or beat rapidly or erratically: My heart fluttered wildly.
  • intransitive v. To move quickly in a nervous, restless, or excited fashion; flit.
  • transitive v. To cause to flutter: "fluttering her bristly black lashes as swiftly as butterflies' wings” ( Margaret Mitchell).
  • n. The act of fluttering.
  • n. A condition of nervous excitement or agitation: Everyone was in a flutter over the news that the director was resigning.
  • n. A commotion; a stir.
  • n. Pathology Abnormally rapid pulsation, especially of the atria or ventricles of the heart.
  • n. Rapid fluctuation in the pitch of a sound reproduction resulting from variations in the speed of the recording or reproducing equipment.
  • n. Chiefly British A small bet; a gamble: "If they like a flutter, Rick will get them better odds than the bookies” ( John le Carré).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To flap or wave quickly but irregularly.
  • v. Of a winged animal: to flap the wings without flying; to fly with a light flapping of the wings.
  • v. To cause something to flap.
  • n. The act of fluttering.
  • n. A state of agitation.
  • n. An abnormal rapid pulsation of the heart.
  • n. A small bet or risky investment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of fluttering; quick and irregular motion; vibration.
  • n. Hurry; tumult; agitation of the mind; confusion; disorder.
  • transitive v. To vibrate or move quickly.
  • transitive v. To drive in disorder; to throw into confusion.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To float; undulate; fluctuate.
  • To move up and down or to and fro in quick irregular motions; vibrate, throb, or move about rapidly or variably; hover or waver in quick motion.
  • To be in agitation; fluctuate in feeling; be in uncertainty; hang on the balance.
  • To be frivolous or foppish; play the part of a beau of the period; fly from one thing to another.
  • To move in quick irregular motions; agitate; vibrate: as, a bird fluttering its wings.
  • To cause to flutter; disorder; throw into confusion.
  • n. Quick and irregular motion, as of wings; rapid vibration, undulation, or pulsation: as, the flutter of a fan or of the heart.
  • n. Agitation; confusion; confused or excited feeling or action.
  • n. A flow of mingled water and steam from the gage-cocks of a steam-boiler. This occurs in locomotives when the boiler primes, or works water into the cylinders.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. wink briefly
  • v. move along rapidly and lightly; skim or dart
  • n. the motion made by flapping up and down
  • n. the act of moving back and forth
  • v. flap the wings rapidly or fly with flapping movements
  • n. abnormally rapid beating of the auricles of the heart (especially in a regular rhythm); can result in heart block
  • v. beat rapidly
  • v. move back and forth very rapidly
  • n. a disorderly outburst or tumult

Etymologies

Middle English floteren, from Old English floterian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English floteren, from Old English floterian, flotorian ("to float about, flutter"). Cognate with Low German fluttern, fluddern ("to flutter") and Albanian flutur ("butterfly"). More at float. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In these two wind-conscious memoirs, the word flutter appears often and imaginatively.

    Deconstructing Obama

  • State Capitol police today reversed an earlier decision to allow the bright yellow "Don't Tread On Me" banner to flutter from the highly visible flagpole after learning that activists had planned a political rally following the flag-raising ceremony.

    POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: April 9, 2010

  • Using a series of flexible solar cells as leaves, GROW takes the shape of ivy growing on a building - the leaves are solar cells while the wind that causes them to flutter is harvested as viable energy using a series of piezoelectric generators on the underside of each leaf.

    SMIT’s GROW: Solar and Wind Photovoltaic ‘Leaves’ | Inhabitat

  • She dreams she leans over the brown dust and lifts a brown leaf that is a moth, holds it inside her mouth to revive the flutter from a frost now covering the still-live glass, the fallen pears half eaten by deer, and her shoulders exposed from the comforter her lover always drags to his side of the mattress.

    Wednesday Shout Out : Rigoberto González : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation

  • Out in the street the loudspeakers bellow, the flags flutter from the rooftops, the police with their tommy-guns prowl to and fro, the face of the Leader, four feet wide, glares from every hoarding; but up in the attics the secret enemies of the régime can record their thoughts in perfect freedomthat is the idea, more or less.

    As I Please

  • Therein flutter the souls of the dead; for the dead be many and the living few.

    Nam-Bok, The Liar

  • In answer to that word flutter, Priscilla wrote as follows:

    He Knew He Was Right

  • QUESTION: Would that be something that would create the condition known as flutter in the vertical fin?

    CNN Transcript Nov 15, 2001

  • Really, the flutter was a genuine stirring of her heart with inquietude, timidity and semi-repentance; but Mae couldn't say this, and it's only what one says out that can be reckoned on in this world.

    Mae Madden

  • The flutter of excitement was renewed, and this time it might almost be called a flutter of apprehension.

    Mr. Crewe's Career — Complete

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