- to provide incriminating evidence about (an associate or accomplice); inform on: I only work with people I know won’t flip me.
- to turn into an informer: The prosecutor will try to flip the defendant in exchange for a reduced sentence.
- to react to something in an excited, astonished, or delighted manner: He really flipped over his new girlfriend.
- to become insane, irrational, angry, or highly excited (often followed by out).
Idioms about flip
Origin of flip1
Words nearby flip
Other definitions for flip (2 of 3)
Origin of flip2
Other definitions for flip (3 of 3)
Origin of flip3
MORE ABOUT FLIP
Where does flip come from?
When it comes to studying the origins of words, it’s easy to overlook—and take for granted—everyday, unassuming words, like flip. But oftentimes, the story behind these most basic of words can provide great insights into how words work.
Flip is first recorded around 1585–95. It appears to be related to, and may even be a contraction of, the word fillip. This word means “to strike with the nail of a finger snapped from the end of the thumb.” Compared to flip, fillip is less common but older, recorded around 1425–75.
While the ultimate origin of fillip is unknown, etymologists think the word is what’s called expressive. While imitative words evoke the actual sound of a word being defined (boom), the sound of expressive words can conjure up a particular emotion, sensation, shape, movement, and so on. So, a word like fillip evokes the movement involved in the action of fillipping.
Try flipping—or filliping—your thumb and index finger. Can you hear how the words evoke such finger flicking? And use of the word flick is no accident here. Flick is very similar in sense and form, imitating the sound of flicking something.
Like flick, the word flip also brings to mind flop, as in flip-flop and its variant, flip-flap. Flop itself originates as a variant of flap. Flip-flops, like the kind of sandals you might wear at the pool, are so named for the sound they make when you walk in them.
Flip, flap, flop, flick—the initial cluster, fl-, in English is associated with flittering, fluttering, flitting motion. This relationship between the sound fl– and the meaning of unsteady movement is called sound symbolism.
Sound symbolism is the “nonarbitrary connection between phonetic features of linguistic items and their meanings, as in the frequent occurrence of close vowels in words denoting smallness, as petite and teeny-weeny.”
One commonly cited example of sound symbolism in English is how many words dealing with light begin with the cluster gl-: glance, glare, glimmer, glitter, and glimpse, to name a few. Can you think of other words to add to this list?
One the most familiar forms of sound symbolism is onomatopoeia, the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.
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The word flip, and the underlying type of movement the word expresses, is also apparently the source of the adjective flippant, meaning “frivolously disrespectful, shallow, or lacking in seriousness; characterized by levity.” Flippant entered English around 1595–1605. Its earliest senses were “talkative,” “nimble,” and “playful,” which extended to “unserious” and “disrespectful.”
The adjective flip is an informal synonym for flippant, recorded around 1840–50. It may have shortened from flippant or extended directly from flip.
How to use flip in a sentence
The seat is considered among the most likely to flip this year.Election live updates: Trump returns to Wisconsin; Biden to face live audience at town hall|Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner|September 17, 2020|Washington Post
This stability is invaluable, as traveling rough side-hills is an easy way to flip your machine.
Recent research shows that the Arctic peatlands will flip from being carbon sinks to carbon sources as the region heats up further.What wildfires in Brazil, Siberia, and the US West have in common|Lili Pike|September 17, 2020|Vox
It went nowhere in a Republican-controlled Senate, but that could change if the majority flips.
These “good” drawings are only a few flips away from accepting the edge without breaking planarity.A New Algorithm for Graph Crossings, Hiding in Plain Sight|Stephanie DeMarco|September 15, 2020|Quanta Magazine
In a neat line, his agent, beginning a bidding war, promised: “Michiko Kakutani will flip for this.”What On Earth Is ‘The Affair’ About? Season One’s Baffling Finale|Tim Teeman|December 22, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Were you playing up or, on the flip side, shying away from portraying a romantic attraction?Inside the Lifetime Whitney Houston Movie’s Lesbian Lover Storyline|Kevin Fallon|December 16, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The answer is that you flip state legislatures, since in most places, state legislatures draw the congressional district lines.
With the freedom of doing that, we were able to do a non-human, flip-y thing.‘No Regrets’: Peter Jackson Says Goodbye to Middle-Earth|Alex Suskind|December 4, 2014|DAILY BEAST
So whatever college campuses are doing, they need to flip that script.
Nor could they forget the Sunday mornings when his reverence took his dose of egg-flip before church, in order to clear his voice.Skipper Worse|Alexander Lange Kielland
Caroline, unable decently to go away, gives her gown a sort of flip on one side, as if to produce a separation.The Petty Troubles of Married Life, Complete|Honore de Balzac
With a deft twist and flip he tossed the open noose over his prisoner's upheld wrists and jerked it tight.Blazed Trail Stories|Stewart Edward White
Up flies his rapier idly—she with a sudden flip tosses it higher still, and with a leap, by Gox!Tales of Northumbria|Howard Pease
Then, with one quick flip of his wrist and a sudden spasmodic movement of his gullet, he downed it.Unwise Child|Gordon Randall Garrett