[ flot-suhm ]
See synonyms for flotsam on Thesaurus.com
  1. the part of the wreckage of a ship and its cargo found floating on the water.: Compare jetsam, lagan.

  2. material or refuse floating on water.

  1. useless or unimportant items; odds and ends.

  2. a vagrant, penniless population: the flotsam of the city slums in medieval Europe.

Origin of flotsam

1600–10; <Anglo-French floteson, derivative of floter to float <Old English flotian
  • Also called flotsam and jetsam (for defs. 3, 4).

Words that may be confused with flotsam

Words Nearby flotsam

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use flotsam in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for flotsam


/ (ˈflɒtsəm) /

  1. wreckage from a ship found floating: Compare jetsam (def. 1), lagan

  2. useless or discarded objects; odds and ends (esp in the phrase flotsam and jetsam)

  1. vagrants

Origin of flotsam

C16: from Anglo-French floteson, from floter to float

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