Definition of flap in English:



  • 1[with object] (of a bird) move (its wings) up and down when flying or preparing to fly.

    ‘a pheasant flapped its wings’
    [no object] ‘gulls flapped around uttering their strange cries’
    • ‘A bird dashed across the window, flapped its wings and shot off in to the black void.’
    • ‘Birds flapped their colorful wings as they settled here and there.’
    • ‘If you took a parrot or a bird of prey, you'd hear it flapping its wings.’
    • ‘During flight, hummingbirds sometimes flap their wings so rapidly that it causes the hum which gave the birds their name.’
    • ‘The six-week-old chicks flap their wings and attempt to fly in their section of the nursery.’
    • ‘He then moves his arm slightly so the bird wobbles, and flaps its wings to keep its balance.’
    • ‘A colorful bird had stepped out of the forest, and was flapping its wings and turning around, as if trying to chase its tail.’
    • ‘I've seen our power lines go down when a bird flaps its wings near them, so I'm thinking we may be in the dark tonight.’
    • ‘An unusual physiotherapy session involving holding the buzzard while it flaps its wings, is now planned, to prepare the bird for release.’
    • ‘Hummingbirds flap their wings at fantastic speeds which allow them to hover in midair while they feed.’
    • ‘On the side of the road a male pigeon flaps his wings around a female.’
    • ‘In birds, the nestlings vocalize, stretch their bodies, flap their wings, and jockey for favorable feeding positions in the nest.’
    • ‘Perched atop a man's shoulder, this bird flaps her wings to the sounds during Thursday night's concert.’
    • ‘These tiny birds can flap their wings up to 70 times per second.’
    • ‘The dumb birds swarmed me, flapping their wings like crazy, making clucking sounds, and pecking at my legs.’
    • ‘Scientists have discovered that as each bird flaps its wings it creates uplift for the bird immediately following.’
    • ‘A miniature bird flapped around his head, squawking indignantly.’
    • ‘Rather than flapping the wings from back to belly, as other birds do, the partridges flap from head to tail.’
    • ‘Hummingbirds can flap their wings up to 80 times per second.’
    • ‘The bird flapped its newly usable wing, bowed its little head towards Jace, and flew off.’
    beat, flutter, move up and down, agitate, wave, wag, waggle, shake, swing, twitch
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    1. 1.1[no object](of something loosely fastened) flutter or wave around.
      ‘lines of washing flapped in the wind’
      • ‘There was nothing really on that corner, but it look a though it was flapping in the wind.’
      • ‘The result: tight and shapely arms that you'll be proud to wave, and the confidence of knowing that nothing is flapping in the wind.’
      • ‘As the plants were locked away in a closed section next to the cafe, I strained my neck to see the price tags flapping furiously in the wind.’
      • ‘My wife says that one of her first memories of me is when she saw me cycling past her bus, with my mane flapping against the wind.’
      • ‘She closed her eyes and listened to the cloth flapping in the breeze.’
      • ‘They flapped in the wind, but only rarely were snapped in two by bashing against the toggle on your duffle coat.’
      • ‘This motion always tended to loosen that sleeve from its anchor until finally (to the relief of the class) it flapped loosely about as a cape might.’
      • ‘Shelley Singer stood in the doorway, her coat flapping in the chill wind.’
      • ‘Emery, known for steadiness, emerged, the lapels on his blue blazer flapping as he waved people out.’
      • ‘A vintage sports car passed me and disappeared into the distance, the headscarf of the lady passenger flapping in the wind.’
      • ‘The fibre doors flap in the stiff wind; a cursory glance is enough to tell me the toilets are yet to be used.’
      • ‘Tending the flagstick, the polite golfer is considerate enough to hold the flag against the pin to keep it from flapping if the wind is blowing.’
      • ‘A thin breeze caught some strands of her short hair and sent some waves flapping in the wind.’
      • ‘Jamie lifted his head and looked at the green tent as it flapped and waved in the wind and rain.’
      • ‘The skylights billow like sheets flapping in the wind and dancing curtains shine green and faintly red.’
      • ‘The sheets have been flapping furiously on the washing lines as if heralding the new front approaching from the west.’
      • ‘But he missed three greens in his first nine holes Saturday as he battled swirling wind that had flags flapping.’
      • ‘You see them everywhere: on the roadsides, clogging up ditches, flapping in the hot winds down dusty streets.’
      • ‘The guy had a long thin coat wrapped around him, its corners flapping as he walked.’
      • ‘He has a close up of the scarf flapping in the wind.’
      flutter, swing, sway, ripple, undulate, stir, shake, quiver, shiver, tremble, fly, blow
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Move (something) up and down or to and fro.
      ‘he flapped the envelope in front of my face’
      • ‘They flap an umbrella, and walk it through the restaurant, dripping on the flagstones.’
      • ‘He then flapped the script in my direction, which in the circumstances was probably not that hygienic.’
      • ‘The process has been compared to moving a rug by flapping one end of it to create a wave, causing the rug to inch along bit by bit.’
      • ‘He flapped a clip board at me.’
      • ‘‘You're not going to school without them,’ said Hysterical Mum Brenda, holding the boots out and flapping them in the air.’
      • ‘He then picked up all the real money and flapped it in my face.’
    3. 1.3[with object and adverbial of direction]Strike at (something) loosely, especially to drive it away.
      ‘she flapped my hands away as she sat up’
  • 2British informal [no object] Be agitated or panicky.

    ‘it's all right, Mother, don't flap’
    • ‘The comment is restrained, yet behind the scenes you know technicians are flapping and executives are panicking.’
    • ‘The maid flapped and fussed and settled her mistress in the chair, arranging cushions and shawls.’
    • ‘But she found that other people tended to flap and fuss over her problems more than she herself did, and if you wanted something done about the subject, it was best to do it yourself.’
    • ‘I was still in an agitated state, so I spent the first few songs flapping about.’
    panic, go into a panic, become flustered, be agitated, fuss
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  • 1A thin, flat piece of cloth, paper, metal, etc. that is hinged or attached on one side only and covers an opening or hangs down from something.

    ‘the flap of the envelope’
    ‘he pushed through the tent flap’
    • ‘Caroline had moved to where his tent stood open, the flaps pinned back to allow easy entrance.’
    • ‘She shoved the supplies at him and pointed at the tent flap.’
    • ‘He nodded to Hazel and she left, watching Katrina until the flaps of the tent covered her face.’
    • ‘In a centered closure, the zipper is concealed by two flaps of cloth running along either side.’
    • ‘Turin opened the entrance flap and allowed her to walk in first.’
    • ‘There was the lilac coloured dress which rested at my ankles and had all these weird flaps of cloth everywhere.’
    • ‘It was a very large room, looking like a gym only a bit smaller, and there were several holes in the side of the wall that were covered up by metal flaps which looked like they could be opened.’
    • ‘Through the metal flaps in the vent I could see that it wasn't the police, but it was the F.B.I. instead.’
    • ‘This was a narrow oblong table with a single broad hinged flap.’
    • ‘The cloth flaps were open, invitingly, yet forebodingly, as well.’
    • ‘I pick up my book bag, a black and red mailman style bag, the front flap completely covered in band pins and buttons.’
    • ‘She threw off her covers and ran to the tent flaps.’
    • ‘To maintain secrecy, the return ballot paper envelope had a detachable flap on which the voter filled in their details.’
    • ‘Vents are the flaps of cloth below the waist, at the back.’
    • ‘The dog-eared flap of cardboard hung on the fence post, stained by a lengthy exposure to the elements.’
    • ‘They are all instant communications that are far less bother than putting pen to paper, finding an envelope, licking the flap, sticking on a stamp and popping it in a post box.’
    • ‘He flipped back a flap of the cloth and a crying baby's face was revealed to his sight.’
    • ‘The neck is covered by flaps attached to the vest.’
    • ‘He went inside and opened the flap on the keypad for the security alarm.’
    • ‘He answered the call and pulled the tent flap to one side.’
    fold, overhang, overlap, covering
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    1. 1.1A hinged or sliding section of an aircraft wing used to control lift.
      ‘flaps are normally moved by the hydraulics’
      • ‘The landing gear and wing flaps were retracted.’
      • ‘Pilots need a complex endorsement to fly airplanes with retractable gear, flaps and a constant-speed propeller.’
      • ‘The aircraft also have composite ailerons, spoilers, flaps, vertical tail skin and horizontal tail skin, but they have aluminum wings.’
      • ‘An aeroplane requires a set of wings for lift, wing flaps and rear rudder for control and engines for propulsion.’
      • ‘At the pilot's command, retract the landing gear and raise the wing flaps.’
      • ‘New flaps and ailerons were built and installed.’
      • ‘I finally got things under control, raised the flaps, leveled off at 10,000 feet.’
      • ‘Though the checklist might not say it, open your aircraft's cowl flaps on short final.’
      • ‘The wing and the center section flaps were interconnected and operated together.’
      • ‘Another consideration is to minimize the drag devices: the landing gear, the flaps and the windmilling propeller.’
      • ‘The ailerons, flaps, and speed brakes are back on the aircraft.’
      • ‘Maybe they noted that pilots had problems maintaining control of the aircraft in some way while retracting the flaps after taking off.’
      • ‘The missile launcher and the trailing edges of the flaps and aileron took most of the damage.’
      • ‘The wing was also equipped with flaps which lowered the landing speed down to 50-60 mph.’
      • ‘He reduced power, lowered his flaps and readied the aircraft to land.’
      • ‘Agglomerations of wings and cowling, flaps, rudders and fuselage rise dramatically from narrow steel legs.’
      • ‘Initial drawings showed an aircraft with a tightly cowled radial engine, streamlined fuselage, retractable landing gear and flaps.’
      • ‘The problem, he said, had been traced to an actuator - a device that drives flaps and other aircraft control surfaces.’
      • ‘The left wing is now finished as are the flaps and ailerons while the wing tips are nearing completion.’
      • ‘Retract flaps and the landing gear to prevent ice accumulation on them.’
  • 2An act of flapping something, typically a wing or arm, up and down or from side to side.

    ‘the surviving bird made a few final despairing flaps’
    • ‘It hovers for two flaps and draws its head back to strike.’
    • ‘The Butterfly Effect derives its name from the chaos theory which suggests that the simple flap of a butterfly's wings has the potential to set off a tornado thousands of miles away.’
    • ‘Residents have enjoyed watching the young birds progress from falling to the ground after a couple flaps of their wings to confident flyers.’
    • ‘He could feel the wind blowing his bangs backwards and could hear the soft flap of his headband.’
    flutter, fluttering, beat, beating, waving, shaking, flailing
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  • 3informal [in singular] A state of agitation; a panic.

    ‘your Gran was in a flap, worrying she'd put her foot in it’
    • ‘I remember a Christmas, not too long ago, when I was in a flap because our new daughter-in-law was coming for Christmas Dinner and I wanted it to be perfect.’
    • ‘The most important trick is to listen to the answers, which sounds simple but isn't if you are in a flap.’
    • ‘An Ilkley theatre audience was left in a flap by a mystery guest that entered from the wings - quite literally.’
    • ‘There's nothing quite like journalists in a flap to make a cold-ridden Tuesday afternoon more enjoyable.’
    • ‘Dot's in a flap, but Sonia gives her a mantra to repeat.’
    • ‘A rare visitor to Salford has got twitchers all over Britain in a flap.’
    • ‘However I got up late and having to go to work was in a flap this morning.’
    • ‘We all laugh, and nobody gets in a flap about that.’
    • ‘They might not be the best looking birds, but an ugly turkey contest has got a Cheshire farmer in a flap.’
    • ‘Size isn't important, or so the saying goes… but abseilers might think differently after a banner left them, and Rochdale Council, in a flap.’
    • ‘Now, I know Mother well, I know her tendency to get into a flap; I should have expected something.’
    • ‘My neighbour Virginia recently arrived at my house in a flap, having just had lunch in a restaurant and drunk two glasses of wine.’
    • ‘Kind-hearted Duncan had them all in a flap when he took the lost bird to court to reunite it with its anxious owner.’
    • ‘It caused mass perturbation in Ireland and had the whole country in a flap when it was published - and no wonder.’
    • ‘Never one to get in a flap, Nigel agreed to give the bird a temporary home while he sought the owner.’
    • ‘A stork had bird watchers in a flap when it flew away from a stately home.’
    • ‘I sheltered behind bales of browned heather, the only place where I could re-fold my map without getting in a flap.’
    • ‘A lovesick swan in search of his mate got in a flap when he crash-landed on to railway lines in the centre of York.’
    • ‘Clark was booted off the show in a flap over a previous arrest he didn't tell producers about.’
    • ‘An injured cygnet had a rescue team in a flap as it took five days to catch in Chippenham.’
    panic, fluster, state of agitation, state of panic
    fuss, agitation, commotion, stir, hubbub, excitement, tumult, ado, storm, uproar, flurry
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  • 4A large broad mushroom.

  • 5Phonetics
    A type of consonant produced by allowing the tip of the tongue to strike the palate very briefly.


  • someone's ears are flapping

    • informal Someone is trying to a listen to a conversation between other people.


Middle English: probably imitative.