Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[floun-der] /ˈflaʊn dər/
verb (used without object)
to struggle with stumbling or plunging movements (usually followed by about, along, on, through, etc.):
He saw the child floundering about in the water.
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 forms
flounderingly, adverb
unfloundering, adjective
2. falter, waver, muddle.


[floun-der] /ˈflaʊn dər/
noun, plural (especially collectively) flounder (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) flounders.
a European, marine flatfish, Platichthys flesus, used for food.
any of numerous similar or closely related non-European flatfishes.
any flatfish other than soles.
1400-50; late Middle English < Anglo-French floundre < Scandinavian; compare Norwegian flundra Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for flounder
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And with his head still turned, Andrew felt a shock and flounder.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • 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.

    The Book of All-Power Edgar Wallace
  • I have floundered unawares into the pitfall, and now I must flounder out.

    The Bertrams

    Anthony Trollope
  • It would be very pretty if it were otherwise, but that's how we flounder.

    Some Short Stories Henry James
British Dictionary definitions for flounder


verb (intransitive)
to struggle; to move with difficulty, as in mud
to behave awkwardly; make mistakes
the act of floundering
Usage note
Flounder is sometimes wrongly used where founder is meant: the project foundered (not floundered) because of a lack of funds
Word Origin
C16: probably a blend of founder² + blunder; perhaps influenced by flounder²


noun (pl) -der, -ders
Also called fluke. a European flatfish, Platichthys flesus having a greyish-brown body covered with prickly scales: family Pleuronectidae: an important food fish
(US & 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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for flounder

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.


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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for flounder

Word Value for flounder

Scrabble Words With Friends