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[floh-ter] /ˈfloʊ tər/
a person or thing that floats.
Informal. a person who is continually changing his or her place of abode, employment, etc.
an employee without a fixed job assignment:
One of our officers works as a floater, filling in when someone is out.
U.S. Politics. a voter not attached to any party, especially a person whose vote may be purchased.
a person who fraudulently votes, usually for pay, in different places in the same election.
a speck or string that appears to be drifting across the eye just outside the line of vision, caused by cells or cell fragments in the vitreous humor registering on the retina; musca volitans.
Also called floating policy. Insurance. a policy that insures movable personal property, covering a loss in any location.
Finance. any security or note that has a floating rate.
Medicine/Medical Slang. a corpse found floating in a body of water.
Animal Behavior. a territorial animal that has been unable to claim a territory and is forced into undefended, marginal areas with limited resources.
Australian. a meat pie served in a plate of gravy or pea soup.
Origin of floater
First recorded in 1710-20; float + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for floater
Historical Examples
  • Euripides used almost the same term in floater, for a seaman.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • The floater under him churned a little, but there was no noise.

    Unwise Child Gordon Randall Garrett
  • At that instant her floater began to bob fiercely up and down.

    Dorothy's Triumph

    Evelyn Raymond
  • This afternoon we passed a floater who had gone by us at New Madrid.

    The houseboat book William F. Waugh
  • He was a financier and a floater of companies which generally paid.

    The Coast of Adventure Harold Bindloss
  • We had to swim good and hard to catch up with our only hope, the floater.

    Friend Island Francis Stevens
  • I parked my floater beside the house that had sheltered Kron as long as I had known him.

    To Choke an Ocean

    Jesse F. (Jesse Franklin) Bone
  • Cameron wasn't a bad chap—he simply hadn't character enough to be bad—he was a floater!

    The Shield of Silence Harriet T. Comstock
  • When the floater goes under, you will know that a fish is biting at the worm on the hook.

    Seven O'Clock Stories Robert Gordon Anderson
  • I been along the waterfront long enough t' know that th' lad that picks up a floater gets a reward o' ten dollars from th' city.

    Captain Scraggs Peter B. Kyne
British Dictionary definitions for floater


a person or thing that floats
any of a number of dark spots that appear in one's vision as a result of dead cells or fragments in the lens or vitreous humour of the eye
(US & Canadian)
  1. a person of no fixed political opinion
  2. a person who votes illegally in more than one district at one election
  3. a voter who can be bribed
(US & Canadian, insurance) Also called floating policy. a policy covering loss or theft of or damage to movable property, such as jewels or furs, regardless of its location
(US, informal) a person who often changes employment, residence, etc; drifter
(Austral) a loose gold- or opal-bearing rock
(Austral) (esp in Adelaide) a meat pie in a plate of pea soup
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 floater

"dead body found in water," 1890, U.S. slang, agent noun from float (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for floater



  1. A person who habitually moves about; vagabond; drifter (1958+)
  2. A blunder: made an error, slip or floater (1913+ British universities)
  3. A slow pitch that appears to float in the air (1906+ Baseball)
  4. A corpse taken from the water (1852+)
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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