flounder

1
[floun-der]

verb (used without object)

to struggle with stumbling or plunging movements (usually followed by about, along, on, through, etc.): He saw the child floundering about in the water.
to struggle clumsily or helplessly: He floundered helplessly on the first day of his new job.

Origin of flounder

1
1570–80; perhaps blend of flounce1 and founder2
Related formsfloun·der·ing·ly, adverbun·floun·der·ing, adjective

Synonyms for flounder

flounder

2
[floun-der]

noun, plural (especially collectively) floun·der, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) floun·ders.

a European, marine flatfish, Platichthys flesus, used for food.
any of numerous similar or closely related non-European flatfishes.
any flatfish other than soles.

Origin of flounder

2
1400–50; late Middle English < Anglo-French floundre < Scandinavian; compare Norwegian flundra
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for flounder

Contemporary Examples of flounder

Historical Examples of flounder

  • And, indeed, Mart soon found that he need spend no worry over leaving wounded fish to flounder out their lives.

    The Pirate Shark

    Elliott Whitney

  • The alligator gave a spring, and began to flounder in the sand, while his companions deserted him, taking to the water.

    Down South

    Oliver Optic

  • They rise to Alpine heights of pure wisdom and power, leaving him to flounder ignobly in the mire of his own fatuity.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • What we've done so far, you might best describe as flounder.

    Project Mastodon

    Clifford Donald Simak

  • Where the crust held us we made good time, but most of the way we had to flounder along through soft drifts.

    Track's End

    Hayden Carruth



British Dictionary definitions for flounder

flounder

1

verb (intr)

to struggle; to move with difficulty, as in mud
to behave awkwardly; make mistakes

noun

the act of floundering

Word Origin for flounder

C16: probably a blend of founder ² + blunder; perhaps influenced by flounder ²

usage

Flounder is sometimes wrongly used where founder is meant: the project foundered (not floundered) because of a lack of funds

flounder

2

noun plural -der or -ders

Also called: fluke a European flatfish, Platichthys flesus having a greyish-brown body covered with prickly scales: family Pleuronectidae : an important food fish
US and Canadian any flatfish of the families Bothidae (turbot, etc) and Pleuronectidae (plaice, halibut, sand dab, etc)

Word Origin for flounder

C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse flythra, Norwegian flundra
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 flounder
v.

1590s, perhaps an alteration of founder (q.v.), influenced by Dutch flodderen "to flop about," or native verbs in fl- expressing clumsy motion. Figurative use is from 1680s. Related: Floundered; floundering. As a noun derived from this sense, from 1867.

n.

flatfish, c.1300, from Anglo-French floundre, from Old North French flondre, from Old Norse flydhra; related to Middle Low German vlundere, Danish flynder; ultimately cognate with Greek platys "flat, wide, broad" (see plaice (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper