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flounder1

[floun-der]
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verb (used without object)
  1. to struggle with stumbling or plunging movements (usually followed by about, along, on, through, etc.): He saw the child floundering about in the water.
  2. to struggle clumsily or helplessly: He floundered helplessly on the first day of his new job.

Origin of flounder1

1570–80; perhaps blend of flounce1 and founder2
Related formsfloun·der·ing·ly, adverbun·floun·der·ing, adjective

Synonyms

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2. falter, waver, muddle.

flounder2

[floun-der]
noun, plural (especially collectively) floun·der, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) floun·ders.
  1. a European, marine flatfish, Platichthys flesus, used for food.
  2. any of numerous similar or closely related non-European flatfishes.
  3. any flatfish other than soles.

Origin of flounder2

1400–50; late Middle English < Anglo-French floundre < Scandinavian; compare Norwegian flundra
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for flounder

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • And with his head still turned, Andrew felt a shock and flounder.

  • Let dear Aristide flounder about; this only moulds young people.

  • What we've done so far, you might best describe as flounder.

    Project Mastodon

    Clifford Donald Simak

  • If there was a sump-hole in sight, that horse was sure to flounder into it.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • Only when she came to describe Bim and to tell of what he said, did she flounder.


British Dictionary definitions for flounder

flounder1

verb (intr)
  1. to struggle; to move with difficulty, as in mud
  2. to behave awkwardly; make mistakes
noun
  1. the act of floundering

Word Origin

C16: probably a blend of founder ² + blunder; perhaps influenced by flounder ²

usage

Flounder is sometimes wrongly used where founder is meant: the project foundered (not floundered) because of a lack of funds

flounder2

noun plural -der or -ders
  1. Also called: fluke a European flatfish, Platichthys flesus having a greyish-brown body covered with prickly scales: family Pleuronectidae : an important food fish
  2. US and Canadian any flatfish of the families Bothidae (turbot, etc) and Pleuronectidae (plaice, halibut, sand dab, etc)

Word Origin

C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse flythra, Norwegian flundra
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

Word Origin and History for flounder

v.

1590s, perhaps an alteration of founder (q.v.), influenced by Dutch flodderen "to flop about," or native verbs in fl- expressing clumsy motion. Figurative use is from 1680s. Related: Floundered; floundering. As a noun derived from this sense, from 1867.

n.

flatfish, c.1300, from Anglo-French floundre, from Old North French flondre, from Old Norse flydhra; related to Middle Low German vlundere, Danish flynder; ultimately cognate with Greek platys "flat, wide, broad" (see plaice (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper