a broad, flat limb, as of a seal or whale, especially adapted for swimming.
Also called fin. one of a pair of paddlelike devices, usually of rubber, worn on the feet as an aid in scuba diving and swimming.
Theater. a narrow flat hinged or attached at right angles to a larger flat.
Slang. the hand.
someone or something that flips.

Nearby words

  1. flipbook,
  2. flipchart,
  3. flippancy,
  4. flippant,
  5. flippantly,
  6. flipping,
  7. flippy,
  8. flirt,
  9. flirtable,
  10. flirtation

Origin of flipper

First recorded in 1815–25; flip1 + -er1



adjective, flip·per, flip·pest. Informal.

flippant; pert.

Origin of flip

First recorded in 1840–50; adj. use of flip1

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for flipper

British Dictionary definitions for flipper



the flat broad limb of seals, whales, penguins, and other aquatic animals, specialized for swimming
Also called: fin (often plural) either of a pair of rubber paddle-like devices worn on the feet as an aid in swimming, esp underwater
cricket a ball bowled with backspin imparted by the action of the bowler's wrist


verb flips, flipping or flipped

to throw (something light or small) carelessly or briskly; tosshe flipped me an envelope
to throw or flick (an object such as a coin) so that it turns or spins in the air
to propel by a sudden movement of the finger; flickto flip a crumb across the room
(foll by through) to read or look at (a book, newspaper, etc) quickly, idly, or incompletely
(intr) (of small objects) to move or bounce jerkily
(intr) to make a snapping movement or noise with the finger and thumb
(intr) slang to fly into a rage or an emotional outburst (also in the phrases flip one's lid, flip one's top, flip out)
(intr) slang to become ecstatic or very excitedhe flipped over the jazz group


a snap or tap, usually with the fingers
a rapid jerk
a somersault, esp one performed in the air, as in a dive, rather than from a standing position


informal impertinent, flippant, or pert

Word Origin for flip

C16: probably of imitative origin; see fillip

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 flipper
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for flipper



A wide, flat limb adapted for swimming, found on aquatic animals such as whales, seals, and sea turtles. Flippers evolved from legs.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.