verb (used without object), flapped, flap·ping.

verb (used with object), flapped, flap·ping.


Origin of flap

1275–1325; Middle English flappe a blow, slap, flappen to hit, slap; compare Dutch flap, flappen
Related formsflap·less, adjectiveun·flap·ping, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for flapping

Contemporary Examples of flapping

  • Wingnuts were flapping their wings when far-left liberals got all misty-eyed talking about “Uncle Joe” Stalin.

    The Daily Beast logo
    America's 9 Worst Demagogues

    John Avlon

    September 2, 2010

Historical Examples of flapping

  • The sails had fallen off and they were flapping and thumping and clapping in the wind.

  • The cabman had put up his torch and was flapping his arms under his armpits.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • He raised his head with a noise in his ears that was like the flapping of wings in the dark.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • "There you are," said Pete, flapping the letter on one hand.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • Roger thought of his torn flag, flapping in the wind on the top of the flagpole.

British Dictionary definitions for flapping


verb flaps, flapping or flapped

to move (wings or arms) up and down, esp in or as if in flying, or (of wings or arms) to move in this way
to move or cause to move noisily back and forth or up and downthe curtains flapped in the breeze
(intr) informal to become agitated or flustered; panic
to deal (a person or thing) a blow with a broad flexible object
(tr sometimes foll by down) to toss, fling, slam, etc, abruptly or noisily
(tr) phonetics to pronounce (an (r) sound) by allowing the tongue to give a single light tap against the alveolar ridge or uvula


the action, motion, or noise made by flappingwith one flap of its wings the bird was off
a piece of material, etc, attached at one edge and usually used to cover an opening, as on a tent, envelope, or pocket
a blow dealt with a flat object; slap
a movable surface fixed to the trailing edge of an aircraft wing that increases lift during takeoff and drag during landing
surgery a piece of tissue partially connected to the body, either following an amputation or to be used as a graft
informal a state of panic, distress, or agitation
phonetics an (r) produced by allowing the tongue to give a single light tap against the alveolar ridge or uvula

Word Origin for flap

C14: probably of imitative origin
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 flapping



early 14c., "dash about, shake;" later "strike, hit;" see flap (n.). Meaning "to swing loosely" is from 1520s. Related: Flapped; flapping.



mid-14c., flappe "a blow, slap," probably imitative of the sound of striking. Meaning "something that hangs down" is first recorded 1520s. Sense of "motion or noise like a bird's wing" is 1774; meaning "disturbance, noisy tumult" is 1916, British slang.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for flapping




Tissue used in surgical grafting that is only partially detached from its donor site so that it continues to be nourished during transfer to the recipient site.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.