Definitions

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

  • noun Goods floating on the surface of a body of water after a shipwreck or after being cast overboard to lighten the ship.
  • noun Discarded or unimportant things.
  • noun People who are considered to be worthless or to have been rejected by society.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Such part of the wreck of a ship and its cargo as is found floating. See jetsam.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Law) Goods lost by shipwreck, and floating on the sea; -- in distinction from jetsam or jetson.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Debris floating in a river or sea, in particular fragments from a shipwreck.

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

  • noun the floating wreckage of a ship

Etymologies

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

[Anglo-Norman floteson, from Old French floter, to float, of Germanic origin; see pleu- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman floteson, from Old French flotaison ("a floating"), from floter ("to float"), of Germanic origin (See float.), + -aison, from Latin -atio

Examples

  • Rourke describes its dark banks well: its trolley-littered bed, its murky depths, its surface covered in flotsam and streaks of oily pollution.

    Not the Booker prize: The Canal by Lee Rourke

  • Frenchman — a trifle of flotsam from a mid-ocean wreck and landed to grow up among the farmer-sailormen of the coast of Maine.

    The Little Lady of the Big House, by Jack London

  • a Frenchman — a trifle of flotsam from a mid-ocean wreck and landed to grow up among the farmer-sailormen of the coast of Maine.

    CHAPTER XVIII

  • But missed in the economic floodwaters among the flotsam was the waterlogged performance of Wal-Mart.

    The Unraveling

  • There were deserters and rejects from the American army, one or two curious fragments of human flotsam from the Spanish Civil War, and the first American negro Raymond had known, a huge, clever man, rumoured to be a lawyer from West Virginia.

    Overlord D-Day And The Battle for Normandy

  • There were deserters and rejects from the American army, one or two curious fragments of human flotsam from the Spanish Civil War, and the first American negro Raymond had known, a huge, clever man, rumoured to be a lawyer from West Virginia.

    Overlord D-Day And The Battle for Normandy

  • There were deserters and rejects from the American army, one or two curious fragments of human flotsam from the Spanish Civil War, and the first American negro Raymond had known, a huge, clever man, rumoured to be a lawyer from West Virginia.

    Overlord D-Day And The Battle for Normandy

  • There were deserters and rejects from the American army, one or two curious fragments of human flotsam from the Spanish Civil War, and the first American negro Raymond had known, a huge, clever man, rumoured to be a lawyer from West Virginia.

    Overlord D-Day And The Battle for Normandy

  • Our flotsam was a trick of the fading light on the sea, just where Broken Rocks raised the swell a little; but in the exquisite, the almost menacing, calm of the evening, we leaned on our oars and watched for a while.

    A Poor Man's House

  • In addition to this flotsam, which is found in large masses in every big city, the militia which I mentioned consists of many adherents of an international European republic.

    The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 10 Prince Otto Von Bismarck, Count Helmuth Von Moltke, Ferdinand Lassalle

Comments

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  • This is one strange-looking word.

    October 29, 2007

  • Solar flotsam.

    March 2, 2009

  • flotsam and jetsam; the floating debris jettisoned from spacecraft

    August 10, 2011