[ flot-suh m ]
/ ˈflɒt səm /


the part of the wreckage of a ship and its cargo found floating on the water.Compare jetsam, lagan.
material or refuse floating on water.
useless or unimportant items; odds and ends.
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).

Can be confused

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

Examples from the Web for flotsam

British Dictionary definitions for flotsam


/ (ˈflɒtsəm) /


wreckage from a ship found floatingCompare jetsam (def. 1), lagan
useless or discarded objects; odds and ends (esp in the phrase flotsam and jetsam)

Word Origin for 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