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

  • n. A snap or light blow made by pressing a fingertip against the thumb and suddenly releasing it.
  • n. An embellishment that excites or stimulates: "Spritely tabasco onions, just a little crunch for the top, were an added fillip” ( Alison Arnett).
  • n. One that is trivial or of little importance.
  • transitive v. To strike or propel rapidly by as or as if by a fillip: filliped his finger against my ear; filliped the pretzel across the counter.
  • transitive v. To stimulate or arouse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A flick; the act of releasing the index finger from the hold of a thumb with a snap.
  • n. Something that excites or stimulates.
  • v. To strike or project with the nail of a finger snapped from the end of the thumb; flick.
  • v. To tap or strike smartly.
  • v. To make a fillip; drive by or as by a fillip; stimulate; excite; whet.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A jerk of the finger forced suddenly from the thumb; a smart blow.
  • n. Something serving to rouse or excite.
  • transitive v. To strike with the nail of the finger, first placed against the ball of the thumb, and forced from that position with a sudden spring; to snap with the finger.
  • transitive v. To snap; to project quickly.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To strike slightly or with some light instrument; especially, to strike with the nail of a finger first bent against the ball of the thumb, and let fly from that position with some force.
  • To strike, nudge, or touch, as a horse or a person, in order to urge or press forward; incite; drive.
  • To strike or tap with the nail of the finger.
  • n. A jerk of a finger bent against the ball of the thumb, and then suddenly let fly; hence, a smart tap or stroke.
  • n. Anything which tends to rouse, excite, or revive: as, that acted as a fillip to my spirits.

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

  • n. anything that tends to arouse


(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English philippe, filippen ("to make a sound with right forefinger and thumb, snap"). Origin uncertain. Probably an alteration of Middle English flappen ("to hit, slap, clap, applaud"). More at flap. A fillip gradually became “something of small importance; a trifle.” “The rest is not worth a fillip with the finger.” And, the word could also express a short space of time (perhaps the time it took to “flick” the finger). “The a fillip of the finger was down in the gardens of Riu Gu.” Only in the 18th and 19th centuries did its current usage, as encouragement or stimulus, tend to dominate. (Wiktionary)



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  • "You fillip me o' the head."
    - W. Shakespeare, 'Troilus and Cressida'.

    May 25, 2009

  • I mark this in our old Mogul's wine; it's quite as deadening to some as filliping to others.

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 40

    July 25, 2008