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[flip-er] /ˈflɪp ər/
a broad, flat limb, as of a seal or whale, especially adapted for swimming.
Also called fin. one of a pair of paddlelike devices, usually of rubber, worn on the feet as an aid in scuba diving and swimming.
Theater. a narrow flat hinged or attached at right angles to a larger flat.
Slang. the hand.
someone or something that flips.
Origin of flipper
First recorded in 1815-25; flip1 + -er1


[flip] /flɪp/
adjective, flipper, flippest. Informal.
flippant; pert.
First recorded in 1840-50; adj. use of flip1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for flipper


the flat broad limb of seals, whales, penguins, and other aquatic animals, specialized for swimming
(often pl) Also called fin. either of a pair of rubber paddle-like devices worn on the feet as an aid in swimming, esp underwater
(cricket) a ball bowled with backspin imparted by the action of the bowler's wrist


verb flips, flipping, flipped
to throw (something light or small) carelessly or briskly; toss: he flipped me an envelope
to throw or flick (an object such as a coin) so that it turns or spins in the air
to propel by a sudden movement of the finger; flick: to flip a crumb across the room
(foll by through) to read or look at (a book, newspaper, etc) quickly, idly, or incompletely
(intransitive) (of small objects) to move or bounce jerkily
(intransitive) to make a snapping movement or noise with the finger and thumb
(intransitive) (slang) to fly into a rage or an emotional outburst (also in the phrases flip one's lid, flip one's top, flip out)
(intransitive) (slang) to become ecstatic or very excited: he flipped over the jazz group
a snap or tap, usually with the fingers
a rapid jerk
a somersault, esp one performed in the air, as in a dive, rather than from a standing position
same as nog1 (sense 1)
(informal) impertinent, flippant, or pert
Word Origin
C16: probably of imitative origin; see fillip
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for flipper

"limb used to swim with," 1822, agent noun from flip (v.). Sense of "rubber fin for underwater swimming" is from 1945. Slang meaning "the hand" dates from 1836. Related: Flippers.



1590s (1520s in flip-flop), imitative or else a contraction of fillip (q.v.), which also is held to be imitative. Sense of "get excited" is first recorded 1950; flip one's lid "lose one's head, go wild" is from 1950. For flip (adj.) "glib," see flippant. Meaning "to flip a coin" (to decide something) is by 1879. As a noun by 1690s. Related: Flipped. Flipping (adj.) as euphemism for fucking is British slang first recorded 1911 in D.H. Lawrence. Flip side (of a gramophone record) is by 1949.



sailors' hot drink usually containing beer, brandy and sugar, 1690s, from flip (v.); so called from notion of it being "whipped up" or beaten.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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flipper in Science
A wide, flat limb adapted for swimming, found on aquatic animals such as whales, seals, and sea turtles. Flippers evolved from legs.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for flipper



  1. A hand; flapper: I manfully gripped his flipper (1832+)
  2. Traders who buy initial public offerings as the market opens and sell them when vigorous trading begins: It's been a boom year for initial public offerings, just the right environment for ''flippers'' (1990s+ Stock market)
  3. A person who buys real estate and then turns around and quickly tries to sell it for a profit

flip 1


Flippant; impudent; cheeky: Mr Lawrence is flip and easy/ Someone else thought he was too flip at press conferences (1847+)

flip 2


Something that causes hilarity or pleasure: The big flip of the year is Peter Arno's book of cartoons (1950+)


  1. To change or switch diametrically; flip-flop: So I flipped over to the opposite opinion (1900s+)
  2. To respond enthusiastically; feel great excitement and pleasure: ''They flipped over it,'' Riveroll recalls/ I flip over this record (1950+)
  3. To cause one to respond with enthusiasm; give one great pleasure: My imitation of Mr Kissinger flipped the assemblage (1950+)
  4. To become angry: When he told me what he had done, I flipped (1940s+)
  5. To go insane; behave irrationally; flip out: I was flipping at first but then the marvelous vibes got to me (1950s+ Cool talk)
  6. To become an informer; fink out, sing: Someone had tipped the police off to where they should look: a suspect who had been persuaded to flip, become a government informant, on the night of his arrest/ It was the easiest flip Stone ever made. The man rolled over like a puppy (1980s+ Police)
  7. To vomit: Many jockeys have to ''flip'' (regurgitate) their meals to make weight (1980s+)
  8. To exchange one for another; trade in: You buy one, get it out of your system, flip it for a gray Lexus or Infiniti (1990s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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