from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To remain suspended within or on the surface of a fluid without sinking.
  • intransitive verb To be suspended in or move through space as if supported by a liquid.
  • intransitive verb To move from place to place, especially at random.
  • intransitive verb To move easily or lightly.
  • intransitive verb Economics To rise or fall freely in response to the market.
  • intransitive verb To cause to remain suspended without sinking or falling.
  • intransitive verb To put into the water; launch.
  • intransitive verb To start or establish (a business enterprise, for example).
  • intransitive verb To flood (land), as for irrigation.
  • intransitive verb Economics To allow (the exchange value of a currency, for example) to rise or fall freely in response to the market.
  • intransitive verb To offer for consideration; suggest.
  • intransitive verb To release (a security) for sale.
  • intransitive verb To arrange for (a loan).
  • intransitive verb To make the surface of (plaster, for example) level or smooth.
  • intransitive verb Computers To convert (data) from fixed-point notation to floating-point notation.
  • noun Something that floats, as.
  • noun A raft.
  • noun A buoy.
  • noun A life preserver.
  • noun A buoyant object, such as a piece of cork or a plastic ball, used to hold a net or part of a fishing line afloat.
  • noun A landing platform attached to a wharf and floating on the water.
  • noun A floating ball attached to a lever to regulate the water level in a tank.
  • noun Biology An air-filled sac or structure that aids in the flotation of an aquatic organism.
  • noun A decorated exhibit or scene mounted on a mobile platform and pulled or driven in a parade.
  • noun The number of shares of a security that are publicly owned and traded.
  • noun A sum of money representing checks that are outstanding.
  • noun The time between the issuing or depositing of a check and the debiting of the issuer's account.
  • noun The time during which a credit card purchase can be repaid without interest.
  • noun A tool for smoothing the surface of wet plaster or cement.
  • noun A file with sharp ridges used for cutting or smoothing wood.
  • noun A soft drink with ice cream floating in it.
  • noun Excess time allowed for a task in a project schedule.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun That which floats, rests, or moves on the surface of water or other liquid.
  • noun Specifically— A boat.
  • noun A fleet.
  • noun A collection of timber, boards, or planks fastened together and floated down a stream; a raft.
  • noun A fishing-float.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun The small piece of ivory on the surface of the mercury in the basin of a barometer.
  • noun The hollow metallic sphere of a self-acting faucet, which floats in the boiler of a steam-engine or in a cistern.
  • noun The act or state of floating: now only in the prepositional phrase or adverb afloat.
  • noun The act of flowing; flux; flood; flood-tide.
  • noun A wave.
  • noun An inflated bag or pillow used to sustain a person in the water; a cork jacket; a life-preserver.


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

[Middle English floten, from Old English flotian; see pleu- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.



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

    December 11, 2006

  • Whatever floats your boat!

    October 14, 2007

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

    For horses, see here

    October 27, 2007

  • "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