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[floh] /floʊ/
Also called ice floe. a sheet of floating ice, chiefly on the surface of the sea, smaller than an ice field.
a detached floating portion of such a sheet.
Origin of floe
1810-20; perhaps < Norwegian flo layer (compare Old Norse flō layer, level); cognate with Old English flōh piece, flagstone; cf. flaw1
Can be confused
floe, flow (see synonym study at flow) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for floes
Historical Examples
  • The rending crash which accompanies the breaking of floes of ice.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • Freezing out on the floes; stewing under their roofs of snow.

    Fast in the Ice R.M. Ballantyne
  • We left our canoes and oomiaks there, and took to sledges because the floes were unbroken.

    The Giant of the North R.M. Ballantyne
  • We should have had to scramble on the floes and wait there till—till we died together.

    The Walrus Hunters R.M. Ballantyne
  • Then I thought to myself, Why should we live always among the floes and bergs?

    The Walrus Hunters R.M. Ballantyne
  • Out on the floes was an exposed place—to vision as well as to wind and drift.

    The Walrus Hunters R.M. Ballantyne
  • “Take care, Massan,” said Mr Stanley, on approaching one of these floes.

    Ungava R.M. Ballantyne
  • The land-ice is impassable, but the floes out on the sea seem still to be fast.

    Red Rooney R.M. Ballantyne
  • They turned to the south, and plunged at haphazard into the Antarctic floes.

  • It was foul weather all the way from St. John's to the floes.

    Billy Topsail, M.D. Norman Duncan
British Dictionary definitions for floes


See ice floe
Word Origin
C19: probably from Norwegian flo slab, layer, from Old Norse; see flaw1
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 floes



1817, first used by Arctic explorers, probably from Norwegian flo "layer, slab," from Old Norse flo, related to first element in flagstone (q.v.). Earlier explorers used flake.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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floes in Science
A mass or sheet of floating ice.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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