View synonyms for flutter


[ fluht-er ]

verb (used without object)

  1. to wave, flap, or toss about:

    Banners fluttered in the breeze.

  2. to flap the wings rapidly; fly with flapping movements.
  3. to move in quick, irregular motions; vibrate.
  4. to beat rapidly, as the heart.
  5. to be tremulous or agitated.
  6. to go with irregular motions or aimless course:

    to flutter back and forth.

verb (used with object)

  1. to cause to flutter; vibrate; agitate.
  2. to throw into nervous or tremulous excitement; cause mental agitation; confuse.


  1. a fluttering movement:

    He made little nervous flutters with his hands.

  2. a state of nervous excitement or mental agitation:

    a flutter of anticipation.

    Synonyms: dither, stir, twitter, flurry

  3. Audio. a variation in pitch resulting from rapid fluctuations in the speed of a recording. Compare wow 2( def 1 ).
  4. Chiefly British. a small wager or speculative investment.


/ ˈflʌtə /


  1. to wave or cause to wave rapidly; flap
  2. intr (of birds, butterflies, etc) to flap the wings
  3. intr to move, esp downwards, with an irregular motion
  4. intr pathol (of the auricles of the heart) to beat abnormally rapidly, esp in a regular rhythm
  5. to be or make nervous or restless
  6. intr to move about restlessly
  7. swimming to cause (the legs) to move up and down in a flutter kick or (of the legs) to move in this way
  8. informal.
    tr to wager or gamble (a small amount of money)


  1. a quick flapping or vibrating motion
  2. a state of nervous excitement or confusion
  3. excited interest; sensation; stir
  4. informal.
    a modest bet or wager
  5. pathol an abnormally rapid beating of the auricles of the heart (200 to 400 beats per minute), esp in a regular rhythm, sometimes resulting in heart block
  6. electronics a slow variation in pitch in a sound-reproducing system, similar to wow but occurring at higher frequencies
  7. a potentially dangerous oscillation of an aircraft, or part of an aircraft, caused by the interaction of aerodynamic forces, structural elastic reactions, and inertia
  8. swimming See flutter kick
  9. Also calledflutter tonguing music a method of sounding a wind instrument, esp the flute, with a rolling movement of the tongue

Discover More

Derived Forms

  • ˈflutterer, noun
  • ˈflutteringly, adverb

Discover More

Other Words From

  • flutter·er noun
  • flutter·ing·ly adverb
  • un·fluttered adjective
  • un·flutter·ing adjective

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of flutter1

First recorded before 1000; Middle English floteren, Old English floterian, frequentative of flotian “to float

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of flutter1

Old English floterian to float to and fro; related to German flattern ; see float

Discover More

Synonym Study

See fly 2.

Discover More

Example Sentences

Put loudness and slowness together, though, and the results tend to feel hefty and overgrown in our mind’s ear, even though we’re only experiencing a weightless flutter of air.

There are ghosts that may flutter above the stage at the Met.

Farrow smiles and butterflies flutter and stars shoot across the night sky.

It started off small: a hint of annoyance here, a flutter of incredulity there.

There are no red carpets and you just flutter about watching films.

Just as suddenly she was gone, leaving a flutter of red curtains.

They generally flutter for two or three minutes about the most elevated point of any object, and then disappear.

Oh, Ive had it out and felt behind it, urged Miss Carrington, all of a flutter now.

There was a note in her voice of such absolute sincerity, mingled with fear, that he opened his arms and let her flutter away.

It is why they have black wings and tails, why they flutter so with joy, and why they never finish their song.

He half expected a check to fall fluttering to the floor; but alas, there was not a single flutter.


Discover More

More About Flutter

What does flutter mean?

To flutter is to wave, flap, or toss, usually in reference to wings. The baby robin fluttered its wings as it prepared to fly from the nest for the first time.

To flutter is to move in a quick, irregular motion or to vibrate, as when a flag flutters in a small breeze. Often, the difference between flapping and fluttering is that fluttering wings move in an irregular pattern or so fast that you cannot distinguish individual flaps.

A flutter is the movement of fluttering, as in The flutter of a hummingbird’s wings is so fast that it creates a buzzing sound.

A flutter is also a figurative term that describes a moment of nervousness, such as you might feel before a big exam. Some people describe it as feeling like butterflies fluttering in their stomach. A fluttering stomach is a nervous one, perhaps feeling slightly queasy. Other people describe such a feeling as a fluttering heart, particularly when they feel nervous about someone they have romantic feelings for. This, too, is figurative.

In medicine, flutter is used literally to describe an irregular heartbeat, often in the term atrial flutter, which can cause irregular blood flow and different issues in the body. If your heart flutters and it’s not temporary nervousness, you should tell your doctor.

Example: I always get a little flutter the night before a performance.

Where does flutter come from?

The first records of the term flutter are from before the 1000s. It ultimately comes from the Old English flotian meaning “to float.” When a small animal such as a hummingbird flutters its wings, it appears to float in the air.

When audio is recorded on hard disc or tape instead of digitally, occasionally the recording table or tape that the sound is printed on can become lopsided or off balance. This causes a fluctuation in the recording speed, which occasionally speeds up or slows down the sound that is recorded. This speeding up and slowing down is called fluttering because it causes the sound, especially if it is a human voice, to rapidly become high pitched or low pitched.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to flutter?

  • flutterer (noun)
  • flutteringly (adverb)
  • unfluttered (adjective)
  • fluttery (adjective)

What are some synonyms for flutter?

What are some words that share a root or word element with flutter?

What are some words that often get used in discussing flutter?

How is flutter used in real life?

Flutter is normally used casually unless it refers to specific or scientific phrases containing the term.

Try using flutter!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for flutter?

A. float
C. fly
D. sink