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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 floaters
Historical Examples
  • The backs then receive three floaters at 80, in each of which they remain one week.

    Animal Proteins Hugh Garner Bennett
  • We were floating down the Rhine in the society of our friends, two hundred and fifty other floaters, and a string band.

    A Voyage of Consolation Sara Jeannette Duncan
  • Four or five "floaters" seen with equally good results kept the balance of power on the Democratic side on election day.

  • The dense city blocks were convenient lodging places for "floaters."

    The Boss and the Machine Samuel P. Orth
  • It was just that Nat hated farming; that he liked to rove and take a floaters fortune.

  • But the influx of tourists and "floaters" had indicated to him a less arduous form of labor.

  • Weve got beyond all the floaters, Jack, he remarked, and anyway my eyes begin to feel the strain.

  • And the evidence closes with Col. Dudley's direction to organize "the floaters in blocks of five."

  • These floaters that lie with deck almost awash will stand more hammering than a mud fort.

    The Mystery Stewart Edward White and Samuel Hopkins Adams
  • The water for as far as I could see was filled with buoys and glass balls (floaters to hold the nets) enclosed in netted ropes.

    The Land of the Long Night Paul du Chaillu
British Dictionary definitions for floaters


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 floaters



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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floaters in Medicine

floaters float·ers (flō'tər)
Specks or small threads in the visual field, usually perceived to be moving, that are caused by minute aggregations of cells or proteins in the vitreous humor of the eye.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for floaters



  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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