Definitions

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

  • intransitive v. To remain suspended within or on the surface of a fluid without sinking.
  • intransitive v. To be suspended in or move through space as if supported by a liquid.
  • intransitive v. To move from place to place, especially at random.
  • intransitive v. To move easily or lightly: "Miss Golightly . . . floated round in their arms light as a scarf” ( Truman Capote).
  • intransitive v. Economics To find a level in relationship to other currencies solely in response to the law of supply and demand: allowed the dollar to float.
  • transitive v. To cause to remain suspended without sinking or falling.
  • transitive v. To put into the water; launch: float a ship; float a navy.
  • transitive v. To start or establish (a business enterprise, for example).
  • transitive v. To flood (land), as for irrigation.
  • transitive v. Economics To allow (the exchange value of a currency) to find freely its real level in relationship to other currencies.
  • transitive v. To offer for consideration; suggest: floated my idea to the committee.
  • transitive v. To release (a security) for sale.
  • transitive v. To arrange for (a loan).
  • transitive v. To make the surface of (plaster, for example) level or smooth.
  • transitive v. Computer Science To convert (data) from fixed-point notation to floating-point notation.
  • n. Something that floats, as:
  • n. A raft.
  • n. A buoy.
  • n. A life preserver.
  • n. A buoyant object, such as a cork, used to hold a net or fishing line afloat.
  • n. A landing platform attached to a wharf and floating on the water.
  • n. A floating ball attached to a lever to regulate the water level in a tank.
  • n. Biology An air-filled sac or structure that aids in the flotation of an aquatic organism. Also called air bladder, air vesicle.
  • n. A decorated exhibit or scene mounted on a mobile platform and pulled or driven in a parade.
  • n. A sum of money representing checks that are outstanding.
  • n. A tool for smoothing the surface of plaster or cement.
  • n. A soft drink with ice cream floating in it. See Regional Note at milk shake.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A buoyant device used to support something in water or another liquid.
  • n. A tool similar to a rasp, used in various trades
  • n. A sort of trowel used for finishing concrete surfaces.
  • n. An elaborately decorated trailer or vehicle, intended for display in a parade or pageant.
  • n. A small battery-powered vehicle used for local deliveries, especially in the term milk float.
  • n. Funds committed to be paid but not yet paid.
  • n. An offering of shares in a company (or units in a trust) to members of the public, normally followed by a listing on a stock exchange.
  • n. The total amount of checks/cheques or other drafts written against a bank account but not yet cleared and charged against the account.
  • n. Premiums taken in but not yet paid out.
  • n. A floating-point number.
  • n. A soft beverage with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream floating in it.
  • n. A small sum of money put in a cashier's till at the start of business to enable change to be made.
  • n. A maneuver where a player calls on the flop or turn with a weak hand, with the intention of bluffing after a subsequent community card.
  • n. One of the loose ends of yarn on an unfinished work.
  • n. a car carrier or car transporter truck or truck-and-trailer combination
  • n. a lowboy trailer
  • v. Of an object or substance, to be supported by a liquid of greater density than the object so as that part of the object or substance remains above the surface.
  • v. To cause something to be suspended in a liquid of greater density; as, to float a boat.
  • v. To be capable of floating.
  • v. To move in a particular direction with the liquid in which one is floating
  • v. To drift or wander aimlessly.
  • v. To drift gently through the air.
  • v. To move in a fluid manner.
  • v. (colloquial) (of an idea or scheme) To be viable.
  • v. To propose (an idea) for consideration.
  • v. To automatically adjust a parameter as related parameters change.
  • v. (of currencies) To have an exchange value determined by the markets as opposed to by rule.
  • v. To allow (the exchange value of a currency) to be determined by the markets.
  • v. (colloquial) To extend a short-term loan to.
  • v. To issue or sell shares in a company (or units in a trust) to members of the public, followed by listing on a stock exchange.
  • v. To use a float (tool).
  • v. To perform a float.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Anything which floats or rests on the surface of a fluid, as to sustain weight, or to indicate the height of the liquid surface, or mark the place of, something.
  • n. A mass of timber or boards fastened together, and conveyed down a stream by the current; a raft.
  • n. The hollow, metallic ball of a self-acting faucet, which floats upon the water in a cistern or boiler.
  • n. The cork or quill used in angling, to support the bait line, and indicate the bite of a fish.
  • n. Anything used to buoy up whatever is liable to sink; an inflated bag or pillow used by persons learning to swim; a life preserver.
  • n. The hollow, metallic ball which floats on the fuel in the fuel tank of a vehicle to indicate the level of the fuel surface, and thus the amount of fuel remaining.
  • n. A hollow elongated tank mounted under the wing of a seaplane which causes the plane to float when resting on the surface of the water.
  • n. A float board. See Float board (below).
  • n. A contrivance for affording a copious stream of water to the heated surface of an object of large bulk, as an anvil or die.
  • n. The act of flowing; flux; flow.
  • n. A quantity of earth, eighteen feet square and one foot deep.
  • n. The trowel or tool with which the floated coat of plastering is leveled and smoothed.
  • n. A polishing block used in marble working; a runner.
  • n. A single-cut file for smoothing; a tool used by shoemakers for rasping off pegs inside a shoe.
  • n. A coal cart.
  • n. The sea; a wave. See Flote, n.
  • n. The free use of money for a time between occurrence of a transaction (such as depositing a check or a purchase made using a credit card), and the time when funds are withdrawn to cover the transaction; also, the money made available between transactions in that manner.
  • n. a vehicle on which an exhibit or display is mounted, driven or pulled as part of a parade. The float often is based on a large flat platform, and may contain a very elaborate structure with a tableau or people.
  • intransitive v. To rest on the surface of any fluid; to swim; to be buoyed up.
  • intransitive v. To move quietly or gently on the water, as a raft; to drift along; to move or glide without effort or impulse on the surface of a fluid, or through the air.
  • transitive v. To cause to float; to cause to rest or move on the surface of a fluid.
  • transitive v. To flood; to overflow; to cover with water.
  • transitive v. To pass over and level the surface of with a float while the plastering is kept wet.
  • transitive v. To support and sustain the credit of, as a commercial scheme or a joint-stock company, so as to enable it to go into, or continue in, operation.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To rest on the surface of water or other liquid, with or without movement; more commonly, to be buoyed up by water and moved by its motion alone.
  • To rest or move in or as if in a liquid medium; be or appear to be buoyed up, moved, or carried along by or with the aid of a surrounding element: as, clouds, motes, feathers, etc., float in the air; odors float on the breeze; strains of music float on the wind.
  • To drift about fortuitously; be moved or carried along aimlessly or vaguely; go and come passively: as, a rumor has floated hither; confused notions floating in the mind.
  • In weaving, to pass, as a thread, crosswise under or over several threads without intersecting them.
  • To cause to float; buoy; cause to be conveyed on the surface of a liquid: as, the tide floated the ship into the harbor; to float timber down a river.
  • To cover with water; flood; irrigate.
  • In oyster-culture, to place on a float for fattening. See float, n., 1 .
  • In plastering, to pass over and level the surface of, as plaster, with a float frequently dipped in water.
  • In ceramics, to wash over or cover with a thin coat, as of varnish, or with enamel.
  • In white-lead making, to subject to the process of floating. See floating, n., 4.
  • In farriery, to file, as the teeth of horses, especially old horses.
  • To set afloat; give course or effect to; procure recognition or support for: used of financial operations: as, to float stocks or bonds; to float a scheme by raising funds to carry it on.
  • In sporting, to hunt by approaching with a boat or float at night: as, to float deer.
  • n. That which floats, rests, or moves on the surface of water or other liquid.
  • n. Specifically— A boat.
  • n. A fleet.
  • n. A collection of timber, boards, or planks fastened together and floated down a stream; a raft.
  • n. A fishing-float.
  • n. A platform of planks or other material, as a galvanized iron netting or something similar, on which oysters are piled in fresh water to fatten for marketing.
  • n. A floating platform fastened to a wharf or the shore, from which to embark in or land from boats, as a landing-place at a ferry.
  • n. A cork or other light substance used on an angling-line to support it and show by its movement when a fish takes the hook.
  • n. The small piece of ivory on the surface of the mercury in the basin of a barometer.
  • n. The hollow metallic sphere of a self-acting faucet, which floats in the boiler of a steam-engine or in a cistern.
  • n. The act or state of floating: now only in the prepositional phrase or adverb afloat.
  • n. The act of flowing; flux; flood; flood-tide.
  • n. A wave.
  • n. An inflated bag or pillow used to sustain a person in the water; a cork jacket; a life-preserver.
  • n. A platform on wheels, bearing a group of objects or persons forming a tableau or scenic effect, and designed to be drawn through the streets in a procession.
  • n. A kind of dray having the body hung below the axle, used for transporting heavy goods.
  • n. A coal-cart.
  • n. A name of various mechanical tools and appliances.
  • n. pl. Theat., the footlights: in allusion to the wicks, which floated in a trough filled with oil.
  • n. In weaving, especially of fancy fabrics, the passing of a thread crosswise under or over several threads without intersecting them.
  • n. In zoology: In Mollusca, specifically, the vesicular appendage of the Ianthinidæ. See cut under Ianthinidæ.
  • n. A local name of a discoid medusa of the genus Velella.
  • n. An air-sac or other light hollow or vesicular part or organ which floats or buoys some animals on the water, as the pneumatophore or pneumatocyst of a hydrozoan.
  • n. Same as floater, 4.
  • n. A timber drag used for dressing off roads, especially race-courses.
  • n. In stereotyping by the plaster process, the iron plate (about half an inch thick) which upholds the baked plaster mold in its dipping-pan. The plate and the pan float in a bath of the much heavier medium of melted type-metal.
  • n. In geology and mining, loose pieces of ore which have become detached from the parent mass in place and have traveled a greater or less distance. They indicate the presence of a vein and guide the prospector in his discoveries.
  • n. plural Commercial fertilizers consisting of low-grade phosphates ground to an impalpable powder. They are used with special advantage in connection with green manures and in composts to render the phosphoric acid more available.

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

  • v. convert from a fixed point notation to a floating point notation
  • v. put into the water
  • v. circulate or discuss tentatively; test the waters with
  • n. a drink with ice cream floating in it
  • v. set afloat
  • n. the number of shares outstanding and available for trading by the public
  • v. be in motion due to some air or water current
  • v. move lightly, as if suspended
  • n. an elaborate display mounted on a platform carried by a truck (or pulled by a truck) in a procession or parade
  • n. the time interval between the deposit of a check in a bank and its payment
  • v. be afloat either on or below a liquid surface and not sink to the bottom
  • n. an air-filled sac near the spinal column in many fishes that helps maintain buoyancy
  • n. something that floats on the surface of water
  • n. a hand tool with a flat face used for smoothing and finishing the surface of plaster or cement or stucco
  • v. allow (currencies) to fluctuate
  • v. make the surface of level or smooth

Etymologies

Middle English floten, from Old English flotian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English floten, from Old English flotian ("to float"), from Proto-Germanic *flutōnan (“to float”), from Proto-Indo-European *plewd-, *plew- (“to float, swim, fly”). Cognate with Middle Low German vloten, vlotten ("to float, swim"), Middle Dutch vloten, Old Norse flota, Icelandic fljóta, Old English flēotan ("to float, swim"), Ancient Greek πλέω, Lithuanian plaukti, Russian плавать. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "Cummings was looking at an aerial photograph of an area in east Baghdad called Kamaliya, where there was an abandoned spaghetti factory with a hole in the courtyard, a hole in which some of his soldiers had discovered Bob.
    Bob: It's shorthand for 'bobbin' in the float,' Cummings explained.
    Float: It's shorthand for 'two to three feet of raw sewage,' he further explained."
    - David Finkel, Psychopathy in Action: A Grisly Problem, "Grateful" Dead Iraqis and a Grim Outlook, Washington Post, 25 April 2007.

    September 11, 2009

  • 8. to smooth (as plaster or cement) with a float

    For horses, see here

    October 27, 2007

  • Whatever floats your boat!

    October 14, 2007

  • Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution! Whitman, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

    December 11, 2006