1. Informal. a sudden or unexpected reversal, as of direction, belief, attitude, or policy.
  2. a backward somersault.
  3. Also called flip-flop circuit. Electronics. an electronic circuit having two stable conditions, each one corresponding to one of two alternative input signals.
  4. any of several similar devices having two alternative states, the change of state being caused by some input signal or by some change of input.
  5. the sound and motion of something flapping, as a wind-blown shutter; a banging to and fro.
  6. any backless, usually open-toed flat shoe or slipper.
  7. a flat, backless rubber sandal, usually secured on the foot by a thong between the first two toes, as for use at a beach, swimming pool, etc.Compare thong, zori.
  8. (in advertising) a display or presentation, usually on an easel, consisting of a series of pages hinged at the top and flipped over in sequence.
  1. with repeated sounds and motions, as of something flapping.
verb (used without object), flip-flopped, flip-flop·ping.
  1. Informal. to make a sudden or unexpected reversal, as of direction, belief, attitude, or policy: The opposition claimed that the president had flip-flopped on certain issues.
  2. to execute a backward somersault.
  3. to flap; bang to and fro: The door flip-flopped in the high wind.
Also flip-flap [flip-flap] /ˈflɪpˌflæp/ (for defs 2, 5, 9, 12), flip·flop (for defs 6, 7).

Origin of flip-flop

First recorded in 1655–65
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for flip-flops

Contemporary Examples of flip-flops

Historical Examples of flip-flops

  • I had a headache; my breath was short, and upon the least exertion my heart did flip-flops.

    Abroad at Home

    Julian Street

  • "Here, this is the way to begin," and he did some flip-flops slow and easy-like.

  • Dan broke off and almost retched as his stomach turned a flip-flop to end all flip-flops.

  • She lay back in the weak sun with her eyes closed behind her shades, her toes wiggling in her flip-flops.

    Little Brother

    Cory Doctorow

  • You know we call those girls who are always changing quarters the Flip-Flops.

    Jane Allen: Center

    Edith Bancroft

British Dictionary definitions for flip-flops


  1. a backward handspring
  2. Also called: bistable an electronic device or circuit that can assume either of two stable states by the application of a suitable pulse
  3. informal, mainly US a complete change of opinion, policy, etc
  4. a repeated flapping or banging noise
  5. Also called (US, Canadian, Austral, and NZ): thong a rubber-soled sandal attached to the foot by a thong between the big toe and the next toe
verb -flops, -flopping or -flopped (intr)
  1. informal, mainly US to make a complete change of opinion, policy, etc
  2. to move with repeated flaps
  1. with repeated flappingsto go flip-flop

Word Origin for flip-flop

C16: reduplication of flip
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 flip-flops



also flip flop, "thong sandal," by 1972, imitative of the sound of walking in them (flip-flap had been used in various echoic senses, mostly echoic, since 1520s); sense of "complete reversal of direction" dates from 1900.

Flip-flaps, a peculiar rollicking dance indulged in by costermongers, better described as the double shuffle; originally a kind of somersault. [Hotten's Slang Dictionary, 1864]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper