Definition of float in English:



  • 1Rest or move on or near the surface of a liquid without sinking.

    ‘she relaxed, floating gently in the water’
    • ‘His body was discovered on April 22 floating in the sea near Bournemouth pier.’
    • ‘She turned around, blonde hair floating gently in the water.’
    • ‘Apparently it takes three days to float down the river to the coast.’
    • ‘The boat boys' faces became more and more grim and all sorts of debris was floating in the sea.’
    • ‘On their way to the scene the divers had discovered the body of a man floating near the slipway.’
    • ‘The man, stripped of clothes, is floating near a patch of reeds.’
    • ‘He was floating just below the surface and the family initially thought he was joking then they realised that something was wrong.’
    • ‘As he headed down the fairway, revelling in his skillful shot, he noticed something floating on the surface of the pond.’
    • ‘The ponds were quiet with only white feathers floating on the surface or sticking to one's shoes.’
    • ‘It was freshly squeezed, with a wild orchid or gardenia floating on its surface.’
    • ‘The weed does not stick to the bottom; it floats on the surface and moves with the direction of the wind.’
    • ‘After floating near the surface for a few days, the raft sinks to the sea floor and the eggs hatch far away from their parents.’
    • ‘His boat was found unmanned and floating near Templenoe with the engine at full throttle.’
    • ‘It was discovered floating near a weir opposite the Nicholls Brasseries at 7.15 am.’
    • ‘Eight years later, fishermen on Prince Edward Island spotted a box floating near the shore.’
    • ‘In nature, mussels start life as microscopic larvae floating near the surface of the sea.’
    • ‘Diced spring onion was floating on the surface of the dark red soup, which was a little pungent.’
    • ‘Dead roach have shown up at several locations around the shores of both lake and can also be seen floating on the lake surface at different locations.’
    • ‘A lone survivor was found in a life raft floating aimlessly in the ocean.’
    • ‘Although they float freely on the water surface, they are treated as emergent weeds.’
    stay afloat, stay on the surface, be buoyant, be buoyed up
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object and adverbial Cause (a buoyant object) to rest or move on or near the surface of a liquid.
      ‘trees were felled and floated downstream’
      • ‘They were concerned that the buoyant forces of the concrete against the bottom forms would float the drains out of position.’
      • ‘The metal's surface tension is great enough to permit a steel needle to be floated on its surface.’
      • ‘The bow doors would open, allowing the cargo of tanks, armoured cars, bulldozers or lorries to drive off, and the LST would then wait for the flood tide to float it off again.’
      • ‘This introduces a lot of fine air bubbles into the effluent, floating the algal matter to the surface to be skimmed off.’
      • ‘Topping up casks of wine is essential in order to stop the wine turning into vinegar; alternatively, a layer of olive oil can be floated on the surface of the wine.’
    2. 1.2 Be suspended freely in a liquid or gas.
      ‘fragments of chipped cartilage floated in the joint’
      • ‘The cells would break off and could be seen floating in suspension in the tissue culture medium.’
      • ‘The crystals float in suspended stasis, with each passing second they start to expand and glow.’
      • ‘I felt a thrill of excitement as I floated weightless, suspended over the void.’
      • ‘The energetic particles floating in the space around Earth also can damage spacecraft without causing immediate catastrophic failures.’
      • ‘Normally, we'd give you a cast and tell you to come see us in a few weeks, but there appear to be some bone chips floating around.’
      • ‘He floated suspended above the planet in his spacesuit.’
      • ‘The idea is that there are huge derelict spacecraft floating about that are infested with nasty aliens.’
      • ‘What about the old space centers we have floating about in outer space?’
      • ‘There's a weightless, breathy quality to this music, like floating in space or being suspended in the humid air of a rainforest night.’
      • ‘The character within dies and becomes a frozen corpse floating in space.’
  • 2with adverbial of direction Move or hover slowly and lightly in a liquid or the air; drift.

    ‘clouds floated across a brilliant blue sky’
    • ‘Usually it was the clouds floating slowly past the window that would catch my eye.’
    • ‘Once safely over the French coastline, he simply pulled his parachute ripcord and floated gently to the ground on a clifftop near Calais.’
    • ‘David ignored him and busied himself with the clouds floating slowly by.’
    • ‘There was a handful of fluffy clouds floating lazily across the sky.’
    • ‘Dad's voice floated up the stairs, disturbing our secret rendezvous.’
    • ‘Clouds floated slowly across the sky, and the occasional bird skimmed across above her.’
    • ‘Once airborne, balloons just float with the wind.’
    • ‘The train hooted and a cloud of sooty dust floated past the window.’
    • ‘She watched as the white clouds slowly floated by in the sky and gave a sigh.’
    • ‘There is no music floating up the stairs, no sound of splashing water, no tendril of cigarette smoke snaking its delicate way towards the bed.’
    • ‘During my traffic-filled commute to work this morning, I gazed up over the sky of downtown and noticed a giant blimp floating about over the buildings.’
    • ‘Feathers float upward from the pit and hang in the air.’
    • ‘My mother's voice floated up the stairs, informing us that desert was on the table.’
    • ‘A warm breeze floated through the open window onto my face.’
    • ‘Michael's voice floated up the stairs before she could lie down again.’
    • ‘But I did notice when a voice came floating down from the stairs, a voice I knew only too well.’
    • ‘Finally, though, he drifted off, lulled by the noises that floated through his newly open window.’
    • ‘It drifted down from the heavens, little white nothings floating across your windows, settling on lamp-posts and windshields.’
    • ‘A bitter smell floated into the room from the open door.’
    • ‘I heard the front door slam violently and excited shouts float up the stairs.’
    hover, levitate, be suspended, hang, defy gravity
    drift, glide, sail, slip, slide, waft, flow, stream, move, travel, be carried
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1float about/around (of a rumour, idea, etc.) circulate.
      ‘the notion was floating around Capitol Hill’
      • ‘As a counter to a lot of misinformation floating about, the company offers nine reasons to be skeptical of press reports about medical breakthroughs.’
      • ‘A couple of hot rumors have been floating about involving Golden State.’
      • ‘There are rumors floating around the internet that you are his concubine.’
      • ‘‘It is an idea that is floating about at the moment, but I wouldn't put it any stronger than that,’ he added.’
      • ‘We did not need a bunch of rumors floating around concerning what had happened.’
      • ‘I believe that political life would be greatly improved if the ideas floating around it were informed by imagination and open minds.’
      • ‘A rumor is floating about that the businessman is getting ready to waste millions again in a futile attempt to become governor, but that's relevant only to the coyotes who will take his money.’
    2. 2.2 Move in a casual or leisurely way.
      ‘Araminta floated down the stairs’
      • ‘An ethereal but efficient waitress floats about the rooms and speaks quietly; she is a perfect match for The Red Tea Box.’
      • ‘For those few moments all life comes to a standstill as she gently floats past the cloth shop, the vile grocer and the newspaper stand.’
      • ‘Kylie Minogue's on-off squeeze, James Gooding, was floating about followed by a chorus of women whispering: ‘I'm not Kylie but I'm up for it if you are.’’
      • ‘I floated down the stairs with the soft fabric of the dress swishing around my legs.’
      • ‘She threw a pleased smile in my direction and floated up the stairs with him right behind her.’
      • ‘His voice drifted off as he floated over to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, cabinets, and the pantry.’
      • ‘Slowly I floated along the street; unaware of anyone or anything.’
      • ‘She moved her wand toward the stairs, and Ron floated that way.’
      • ‘She was floating between bowls of chips, bags of candy that had been ripped open and boxes of colourfully wrapped chocolate bars.’
      • ‘When she was finally ready, she walked gracefully down the stairs and floated toward the door.’
      • ‘She floated down the stairs of the main hall into a welcoming mass of guests.’
    3. 2.3with object and adverbial of direction (in sport) make (the ball) travel lightly and effortlessly through the air.
      ‘he floated the kick into the net’
      • ‘With half-time approaching, Ovenden were awarded a free kick well outside the penalty area and Megson floated the ball over everyone into the net.’
      • ‘Every time the ball came near me I imagined Nick was floating one of his wonderful passes into my hands.’
      • ‘He floated the ball over for young substitute Danny Forrest to head back across goal to Simon Parke at the far post.’
      • ‘Cosgrave floated the ball across, it bobbled around the six yard box before Sullivan cheekily back heeled it to the bottom corner for his twelfth goal of the season.’
      • ‘For once, the lineout maul was regenerated closer to the posts and O'Gara was able to float his pass towards an overlap near the left touchline.’
      • ‘Yorke floats a ball into England's box which Lawrence heads over, though the goal was never in danger.’
      • ‘This time Joe Hurley floated the ball across from the far side and Maurice O Rahilly thundered a header that the keeper, Dan Burke, managed to get a hand to.’
      • ‘Cougars were trailing 22-16 when Adam Mitchell floated a high ball across to the right wing.’
      • ‘The ball is floated in to the box and Nesta heads clear.’
      • ‘And Shane Warne, bowling into the strong breeze, broke with his norm and floated the ball up tantalisingly slow.’
      • ‘He not only floated the ball out onto the green, but sent his chip closer and closer until the ball unbelievably dropped into the hole.’
      • ‘After a bright start the home side took a third minute lead when Matthew Rhead floated the ball over goalkeeper Mark Thornley and saw his effort drop just under the crossbar.’
      • ‘Lee Clark floated the ball into the area, but Marlet could not get any power on his header.’
      • ‘Robert Foley won possession on the stand side and floated a high ball towards goal.’
      • ‘For when Stanley were awarded a corner on eight minutes, following another Prendergast drive, the winger floated the corner to the near post.’
      • ‘The striker floated a great ball into the box which was met by Keith Kelly whose glancing header levelled the game.’
      • ‘Another strong serve from the Briton takes him to 30-but he floats the ball long for 30-15.’
      • ‘The ball is floated in and Mexico clear their lines courtesy of an overhead kick from Mercado.’
      • ‘The ball was floated the other way, where it caught the underside of the crossbar and dropped over the line.’
      • ‘Martin Keating floated a high ball into the square.’
  • 3with object Put forward (an idea) as a suggestion or test of reactions.

    • ‘Many ideas were floated and agreed upon and the challenge is now to work out the finer details of implementing the ideas.’
    • ‘After floating the idea at the last town partnership meeting, the support was so strong a working party has already been formed to put the event together.’
    • ‘The Geraldton Yacht Club has floated plans to move its premises to the Batavia Coast Marina.’
    • ‘After floating the idea to Glenn, a friend she had met while performing at a theatre in Woking, the two decided to give it a go and put on a show at a friend of a friend's house to try it out.’
    • ‘Two years ago the Scoliosis Association approached him to become a patron of the charity, and floated the idea for this exhibition.’
    • ‘A similar idea was floated in March this year by Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead following an energy summit held in the city last year.’
    • ‘He also floated the idea of convoking a Grand National Assembly in order to change the constitution.’
    • ‘The BBC report is amusing, because it floats the idea that maybe people should be charged for the bandwidth they use - hey, maybe metered internet time could be the future?’
    • ‘A leaked Downing Street report last week floated the idea of a ‘fat tax’ on unhealthy food targeting full-fat milk, cheese and butter.’
    • ‘I floated an idea past my year 11 class today, that if they do their homework they will get an A, no matter what else happens.’
    • ‘Since floating the idea in Germany earlier this week he has refused to give details of how it would work.’
    • ‘As would be expected, irreverent ideas were constantly floated.’
    • ‘Spain has floated the idea of increasing the vote required for ministers taking decisions in councils.’
    • ‘And an idea floated by the Housing Authority to build housing across the border in southern China was pulled back soon after it was made.’
    • ‘Controversial plans to allow voters to veto inflation-busting council tax rises were floated yesterday by an ex-Labour Cabinet Minister.’
    • ‘One idea being floated by traffic police involves placing silhouettes at the roadside, marking locations where people have died.’
    • ‘He has floated the idea that parents should be fined or jailed for failing to stop their children's criminal behaviour.’
    • ‘He floated the idea of raising the amount of money taxpayers must earn before they're subjected to the top marginal tax rate.’
    • ‘Followers of city politics will be surprised to learn that York council is floating the idea of a congestion charge.’
    • ‘The US Treasury Secretary is also floating the same idea.’
    • ‘The Home Office Minister has floated the idea of setting up a part-time police force in North Yorkshire to fight crime in rural areas.’
    suggest, put forward, come up with, submit, raise, moot, propose, advance, offer, proffer, posit, present, table, test the popularity of
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 Offer the shares of (a company) for sale on the stock market for the first time.
      • ‘The second consequence was that many fortunes were made by university academics when their embryonic companies were floated on the stock market.’
      • ‘He regularly spoke of floating the company for a valuation of over €200 million.’
      • ‘He can expect to make a killing when the Life Energy Corporation is floated on the Nasdaq in September.’
      • ‘In 1999, the company was floated on the stock exchange and her wealth was briefly estimated at over a billion dollars.’
      • ‘The company was floated on the Nasdaq stock market in November 1997.’
      • ‘For these two reasons - raising capital and releasing equity in the business - the directors may decide to float their company on the stock market.’
      • ‘The option of floating the company on the stock market is unlikely to be used.’
      • ‘The internet banking service will be floated on the stock exchange.’
      • ‘They're talking of floating the company on the stock market in the next few months.’
      • ‘Just over a year ago, few would have dared to float a retail business in Hong Kong.’
      • ‘He will need to muster all his not inconsiderable sales skills to help float the company at a time when stock markets are in the doldrums.’
      • ‘A central part of the reform process was to privatize many of the nationalized industries through floating the companies on the stock market.’
      • ‘And, if his plans work, he says he would be happy to float his business on the stock market in the future.’
      • ‘Alternatively, investors can hold on to the warrant until the company is floated or sold.’
      • ‘The company was floated on the AIM in June, 2001.’
      • ‘The budget airline was floated on the stock market in 1997 and since 1998 some 10 million share options have been awarded to workers.’
      • ‘‘It is just not possible to float companies of this size, let alone in the IT sector,’ he said.’
      • ‘The losses reflected the costs of setting up and floating the website company as well as the cost of internet broadcasting.’
      • ‘She is not certain she wants to float the company, but hints at a possible buyout or merger in the future.’
      • ‘Mr Johnson began stalking the restaurant chain in 1990 and eventually floated the company on the London Stock Exchange in 1993.’
      launch, get going, get off the ground, offer, sell, introduce, establish, set up, institute, promote
      View synonyms
  • 4(of a currency) fluctuate freely in value in accordance with supply and demand in the financial markets.

    ‘a policy of letting the pound float’
    • ‘But this is a free trade position, to say that currencies should float.’
    • ‘If China allows its dollar-linked currency to float, traders would buy yuan and take pressure off the euro.’
    • ‘Eire's punt, once tied to sterling, was allowed to float free.’
    • ‘By default, the world's major currencies began floating.’
    • ‘Uruguay has allowed its national currency, the peso, to float freely in an effort to make its exports more competitive.’
    • ‘The first days after allowing the peso to float freely saw a stable value of the peso against the dollar.’
    • ‘I recently suggested in China that the yuan should float freely, which would probably lead to a substantial appreciation.’
    • ‘The Chinese are moving closer to their WTO deadline for letting their currency float.’
    • ‘China has been under pressure from other countries to let its currency float more freely.’
    • ‘The new system is similar to Singapore's managed ‘basket, band and crawl’ model in which currency floats within a set policy band.’
    • ‘Afterward the dollar floated against other currencies, its value determined by the demand and supply of foreign exchange.’
    • ‘Is China ready to let its currency float in a wider band?’
    1. 4.1with object Allow (a currency) to float.
      • ‘The president will remain under pressure to encourage Beijing to float its currency, currently pegged to the dollar, which experts argue makes imports artificially cheap.’
      • ‘China abandoned its policy of pegging the yuan to the US dollar, but didn't go all the way to floating it freely.’
      • ‘An initially more painful, but eventually more efficient mechanism for dealing with economic shock and inflation is to float a currency if it is pegged.’
      • ‘When the gold standard was abandoned around 1971, currencies had been floated against each other to measure their worth in the global scenario.’
      • ‘The pressure by the U.S. government for China to float its currency will last only as long as it favors politically influential interests.’
      • ‘Uruguay floated its currency late last month following a run on banks and a plunge in foreign reserves.’
      • ‘In an atmosphere of crisis, he rammed through a series of policy coups, including floating the currency and removing interest rate controls.’
      • ‘It's not even clear if floating China's currency would result in a stronger yuan.’
      • ‘The US has led calls for China to adjust or float its currency, with US industry arguing that the low rate is responsible for job losses.’
      • ‘He denounced the government's decision to float Venezuela's currency, the bolivar, and to cut next year's budget.’
      • ‘The White House says the president will again urge the premier to take steps to float China's currency.’
      • ‘Congressional leaders want China to float its currency on the open market to help adjust what they consider artificially low prices for Chinese goods.’
      • ‘The chaos since Argentina floated its currency was due not to floating but to the conditions that had been created before the floating began.’
      • ‘The President has ruled out floating his country's currency.’
      • ‘However, the interim steps do not involve any concrete moves toward floating the yuan on global currency markets.’
      • ‘Indeed, if the currency were floated, it might well decline as Chinese convert their domestic currency holdings into dollars.’
      • ‘And even if China were to float its currency, it likely would do no better than slow the export of jobs to China.’
      • ‘The market should decide the value of currencies, according to this view, and the correct exchange policy was to float the national currency.’
      • ‘Since then most countries have floated their currencies, which have no intrinsic commodity value.’
      • ‘The instability of the rupee and the decision to float the currency highlight the country's underlying economic and political crisis.’


  • 1A thing that is buoyant in water.

    1. 1.1 A small object attached to a fishing line to indicate by moving when a fish bites.
      • ‘Further downstream, Alex and George were enjoying similar success trotting their floats down a sumptuous stream.’
      • ‘I then noticed that I was getting very shy bites that were barely moving the float.’
      • ‘These floats hold plenty of weight but remain sensitive to bites in fast flowing water.’
      • ‘Then my float shot under and I was into a fish that was too heavy to be a chub.’
      • ‘Eventually the many rings were threaded, the float attached, shotted and the hook tied on.’
      • ‘I fished next to Milo Colombo, the chap that makes the Milo pole floats.’
      • ‘In my opinion the best way to attach the float to the line is with a swivel attached to a short length of power gum.’
      • ‘The next day I decided to fish with the same tackle but set the float shallow.’
      • ‘Personally, I get a lot of satisfaction out of making my own floats and catching fish using them.’
      • ‘After a couple of minutes the bread was gone, but I'd been engrossed in watching the float so couldn't decide whether the fish ate the bread or it had sunk or washed away.’
      • ‘For general river fishing you may want more deep drawer space for things like swimfeeders and big floats.’
      • ‘From time to time one of those floats is bobbing up and down in the water or has been pulled just under the surface and that's when Mr. Catfish is on the line.’
      • ‘On that day, the three rods with the floats produced most of the fish.’
      • ‘Next week I'll tell you about the new pole floats I have designed.’
      • ‘First priority when fishing in this way is to get the right floats for the job.’
      • ‘He gave me a rod and showed me how to put the bait on, taught me how to cast the bait in the water and told me to watch the float.’
      • ‘Once the hard work is done it's easy to fish to a baited area from the bank or to sit in the boat and fish it with a float.’
      • ‘Pat and I believe that it is the float impacting too deeply that scares fish rather than the splash factor.’
      • ‘The same pole float was used with a size 14 hook.’
      • ‘One big advantage of fishing above the dam is that it is still water and offers the opportunity to fish with a float.’
    2. 1.2 A cork or buoy supporting the edge of a fishing net.
      • ‘These weights have a hole or holes bored into them and help, with the aid of buoyant floats, keep the net vertical in the water and fished as a gill or seine net.’
      • ‘Through an elaborate maze of nets suspended by floats, fish are channelled into captivity.’
      • ‘They use beam and otter trawls or fine filament nylon driftnets, a form of gear used in the open ocean, suspended in the water by floats like a curtain.’
      • ‘Fishing floats have always been irresistible bounty for beachcombers.’
    3. 1.3 A light object held for support by a person learning to swim.
      • ‘Dean won the race, I hitting third as I had lagged behind when catching the float on the pool edge.’
      • ‘Edie gasped for breath, giving in to the shakes, hanging on to the float like it was her whole world.’
      • ‘Astronauts are dropped into the training pool wearing space suits, then loaded with weights and floats for buoyancy.’
      • ‘I must say I thoroughly enjoyed learning to swim on my back with one of those squeaky polystyrene float things.’
      • ‘My aunt now sat up, and the edges of her float came up out of the water as she straddled it to look at me.’
    4. 1.4 A hollow or inflated organ enabling an organism (such as the Portuguese man-of-war) to float in the water.
      • ‘The float has a pore at the bottom that emits gas and can be refilled with secretions produced by a special gland.’
      • ‘I wondered just how many stings I could take, as I anxiously scanned the surface for the float sac of a Portuguese man-of-war.’
      • ‘The float of the Portuguese Man of War jellyfish acts as a sail which helps it move or swim in water.’
      • ‘However, the Ediacaran genus Ovatoscutum looks very similar to the float of the living chondrophorine Velella.’
    5. 1.5 A hollow structure fixed underneath an aircraft enabling it to take off and land on water.
      • ‘The most interesting statistic on the list is the large number of accidents where the pilot attempted to land with the gear down with amphibious floats.’
      • ‘The aircraft is unique because it is fitted with amphibious floats.’
      • ‘When fitted with floats, the planes flew maritime reconnaissance patrols and performed their missions in an efficient and reliable manner.’
      • ‘The aircraft could be fitted with either land gear or floats and featured manually folding wings.’
      • ‘After World War Two, private aircraft fitted with floats were a common sight at rivers and lakes across the United States.’
      • ‘The aircraft for the journey was a Fokker tri-motor fitted with large floats and named Friendship.’
      • ‘The bottom of it is built like the hull of a boat and it can float, even without special floats, which can be deployed from the wheel supports.’
      • ‘Each float was supported by front and rear N-struts attached to the bottom longerons of the fuselage and the front and rear stub-wing spars.’
      • ‘Also showing new promise, the company put one of its planes on floats - again a nostalgic yet practical match.’
      • ‘He had purchased two Piper Cubs on floats and had also arranged with a local doctor to lease his new Republic Seabee amphibian.’
      • ‘It was all clear ahead and the power came up - we squatted down in the water, the spray covered our windows and soon we were off, water draining from the floats.’
      • ‘At the same time another aircraft with floats fitted landed near the dinghy and picked up the crew and flew off.’
      • ‘A couple of months later he made the first flight in it equipped with Edo floats.’
      • ‘Wilkins contacted Lockheed about obtaining another aircraft and purchased a Vega that would be fitted with floats.’
      • ‘Accordingly, plans were made to convert the prototype to floats but that plane was destroyed during its flight testing program.’
      • ‘The first flight with floats took place on 8 August and switching from land gear to floats was a relatively simple process.’
      • ‘The planes could be equipped with either wheels or floats for both land and water landings, but only by replacing one type of gear with the other.’
    6. 1.6 A floating device on the surface of a liquid which forms part of a valve apparatus controlling flow in and out of the enclosing container, e.g. in a water cistern or a carburettor.
      • ‘When the float rises to a preset limit it shuts off the incoming water, and the flushing cycle is complete and ready for another sequence.’
      • ‘Contraptions are available that maintain constant water level in the stand, working on the principle of a commode float.’
      • ‘A pump in each pond recirculates water through a filter; a float hooked to a water line and spigot automatically adjusts the water level of each.’
      • ‘Commercially available structures offer either stacked flashboard risers or floats to adjust this water level.’
      • ‘The most common type of bilge pump switch uses a pivoted float to sense water level.’
      • ‘I described the symptoms, and Arv said it could possibly be a blocked exhaust stock or a stuck carburetor float.’
      • ‘Install warning floats in the pump chamber so water use can be stopped if the pump fails.’
      • ‘A sump pump is simply a water pump with an on/off switch activated by a float.’
      • ‘Mount the float valve in your reservoir of water at about the level you want the water (the float is adjustable so placement doesn't have to be perfect).’
  • 2British A small vehicle or cart, especially one powered by electricity.

    • ‘One man grabbed the milkman by the throat and held a three-inch knife to it, while the second man searched in the float for money.’
    • ‘And we're not just talking about a new range of milk floats either.’
    • ‘Braithwaite milkman Ted Godfrey provided his float for use by children from the Sure Start and school nurseries.’
    • ‘He helped her into his milk float and took her all the way home.’
    • ‘In those days his dad and uncle Derek ran their business from Moorhouse Farm, delivering the milk from churns carried on horse-drawn floats with wooden wheels.’
    • ‘A milkman was kicked in the groin and hit over the head by a York taxi driver - for driving his float too slowly.’
    • ‘A milkman had his electric float clamped in Bristol as he made a delivery.’
    • ‘Electric floats went further afield and petrol vans served outlying areas.’
    1. 2.1 A platform mounted on a truck and carrying a display in a procession.
      ‘a carnival float’
      • ‘Spectators were six-deep on the streets with revellers eager to get a good view of the parade of carnival floats.’
      • ‘Organiser Jane Flood said everyone had helped in making the costumes and decorating the float.’
      • ‘I do understand there are water guns on some floats in the parade and retaliation from the spectators can be expected.’
      • ‘The committee is also organising a float for the Easter Parade through the town.’
      • ‘Crowds soaked up the glorious weather as colourful floats, marionettes, a brass band, classic cars and a fire engine wound their way through the town.’
      • ‘The southbound carriage way will be closed to traffic from 8.30 in the morning to enable floats to assemble on the off side lanes.’
      • ‘Memories of wartime Britain were evoked for some with a float called The Land Girls and there was a gardening theme for a number of floats.’
      • ‘The sun also came out as the procession of floats wound its way to the carnival field and then paraded through the town on Saturday.’
      • ‘There will be 40 floats in tomorrow's procession, accompanied by marching bands, majorettes and cheerleaders.’
      • ‘All business outlets are invited to support the parade by entering a float.’
      • ‘There were many colourful floats, bands and a large number of groups of marchers.’
      • ‘While some rode on decorated floats, others paraded in flamboyant costumes.’
      • ‘There are many prizes on offer including best float, best commercial float, best band and best original float.’
      • ‘Today, the New York City parade is the biggest in the country, with an average of 75 floats and 150,000 participants.’
      • ‘The sun smiled down on the bands, dancers, street performers and floats winding their way through streets lined with crowds in buoyant spirits.’
      • ‘A colourful procession of floats through the town was the beginning of a weekend's fun at Dartford's annual festival.’
      • ‘People on the floats tossed candy to the children along the route.’
      • ‘The President will lead a parade of more than 10,000 people and dozens of floats back to the White House.’
      • ‘The road parade this Saturday will feature around 25 classic cars and floats.’
      • ‘Delighted crowds cheered on a spectacular carnival of colourful floats and bands on Saturday.’
  • 3British A sum of money used for change at the beginning of a period of trading in a shop or stall etc., or for minor expenditures.

    • ‘Police are considering robbery as a possible motive because a float of hundreds of pounds was missing.’
    • ‘When the driver got out to adjust it, the group stole his till float containing £25 and slammed his hand in the driver's cab door.’
    • ‘Are Brighton's beggars now carrying a float so they can give out change to people like me?’
    • ‘But as he returned to the taxi, he saw a man trying to steal money from the cash float.’
  • 4A hand tool with a rectangular blade used for smoothing plaster.

    • ‘I climbed the ladder with my float, trowel and plaster and reached upwards towards the missing section of my ceiling.’
    • ‘Push the grout diagonally across the tile with the float tilted at a 45-degree angle.’
    • ‘The easiest way to apply grout is with a rubber-faced float or a squeegee, although you can do it with your finger and a large sponge.’
    • ‘Cover the tiles with grout using a rubber-bottom float or a sponge and wipe on a diagonal.’
    • ‘Among the simplest is a somewhat rough but uniform surface achieved by tooling the finish coat with a sponge float or brush.’
  • 5North American A soft drink with a scoop of ice cream floating in it.

    ‘ice-cream floats’
    • ‘Sometimes you'd be lucky enough to have money for an ice cream float or a soda pop.’
    • ‘I have consumed far fewer root beer floats than I would have liked.’
    • ‘The parents provide all the fixings for the children to make root beer floats.’
    • ‘They continued talking for a while, when Leila announced she was hungry and that they should get on with the root beer floats.’
    • ‘I got my usual root beer float and peanut butter fudge sundae.’
    • ‘Julie got thirsty so we went to the ice cream place for root beer floats, they have the cheapest beverages in the park.’
    • ‘When we got to my room, we drank our floats, talking for awhile.’
    • ‘Selena was having a root beer float.’
    • ‘I said yes immediately, then cried into my root beer float.’
    • ‘Campbell says he also likes to get creative with tea, and adds it to ice cream and dessert drinks, like his tea float.’
    • ‘I grab a root beer float at a diner called Joey's, and begin walking again.’
    • ‘We also make a mean root beer float, with homemade ice cream.’
    • ‘Selling potato chips, poppers of any sort, ribs, fries, and root beer floats to Americans - is this a restaurant?’
    • ‘In New York, creative bartenders are getting ready to offer last year's big hits, the spirited ice cream float.’
    • ‘Sirloin steak sounded great right now, maybe with a root beer float.’
    • ‘He was sitting in the lawn chair next to me with a rootbeer float in his hand and black sunglasses on, which made him seem more rebel-like.’
    • ‘What would life be like if I could not taste the vanilla ice cream in a root beer float?’
    • ‘Oh boy, turn up the summer heat and you can't drag me away from an ice-cream float.’
    • ‘She washed the M & Ms down with a gulp of her root beer float, taking her time as if she hadn't heard the question.’
    • ‘"They're very… fizzy, root beer floats, " Nella elaborated.’
  • 6(in critical path analysis) the period of time by which the duration of an activity may be extended without affecting the overall time for the process.

    • ‘By definition, activities on the critical path cannot have float.’
    • ‘As long as a task does not slip past the amount of float time, it will not affect the overall process or project time.’
    • ‘The significance of independent float is that it is associated solely with one activity and not with a chain of two or more activities.’
    • ‘The independent float of an activity is calculated assuming the worst circumstances.’
    • ‘An activity that has a total float equal to zero is said to be a ‘critical activity’.’


  • float someone's boat

    • informal Appeal to or excite someone, especially sexually.

      • ‘We live in the moment; and whatever floats your boat is OK.’
      • ‘Researching double-glazing or heating boilers may not float your boat but it should save you enough to make it worth your while.’
      • ‘Personally, I didn't like heavy metal bands, but hey, like I always said, ‘Whatever floats your boat and sinks your ship.’’
      • ‘What works for me may not be what floats your boat.’
      • ‘If that's what floats your boat, go for it, but it leads us nowhere fast.’
      • ‘‘Whatever floats your boat, sweetheart,’ he said nonchalantly.’
      • ‘Jane laughed and said, ‘Whatever floats your boat.’’
      • ‘But if shopping doesn't float your boat, there's some impressive architecture along this route.’
      • ‘Listen, if wearing pantyhose floats your boat and everyone is happy, good for you.’
      • ‘Somehow, redecorating the entire house three times a year, putting up more bookshelves than the National Library and handcrafting a bedroom suite out of lollipop sticks doesn't exactly float my boat.’


Old English flotian (verb), of Germanic origin and related to fleet, reinforced in Middle English by Old French floter, also from Germanic.