Definition of flipper in US English:



  • 1A broad flat limb without fingers, used for swimming by various sea animals such as seals, whales, and turtles.

    • ‘Protruding into the flow as they do, they would appear to increase the drag of the flipper as the whale swings into a turn.’
    • ‘Pinnipeds are aquatic mammals with all flour limbs modified into flippers.’
    • ‘In whales, seals, and manatees alike, their arms and hands became flippers - stubby, webbed, fin-like limbs.’
    • ‘The forelimbs are specialized to form flippers, and the hind limbs and pelvis are extremely small and do not normally extend out of the body wall of the animal.’
    • ‘This limitation can be reduced by propulsive movements of mobile flippers as the animal comes out of the turn.’
    • ‘We collected tissue samples from the hind flippers of unrestrained, resting seals, by using ear-notching pliers.’
    • ‘The short broad flippers have rounded tips and are about 1.5 m long.’
    • ‘They are still quite adept at feeding, however; without feathers, their wings resemble penguin flippers.’
    • ‘With a few broad strokes of its flippers, the turtle I've nabbed tows me along under the shallow water until I find my feet, only to be pulled off them again as the powerful creature yanks me forward.’
    • ‘The humpback has the longest flippers of any whale, and they lie substantially forward of the whale's center of mass, well placed to exert turning forces on the whale.’
    • ‘Their forelimbs are modified to form flippers, their hindlimbs are reduced to nothing more than a vestigial pelvis, and their tail is enlarged and flattened horizontally to form a fluke or paddle.’
    • ‘The limbs are modified into flippers for swimming and cannot support the weight of the turtle on land.’
    • ‘Sea turtles have paddle-shaped flippers that help them move through the water, one pair of lungs and a body temperature that fluctuates with the environment.’
    • ‘The flippers are broad, and the tail has a folded ridge on its dorsal surface.’
    • ‘The recently captured dolphin developed an extra set of flippers from these limbs that are about the size of human hands.’
    • ‘The flippers are broad and either rounded or sharply curved.’
    • ‘Black market trade in adult turtles' meat, flippers, and shells also helps keep the animals in peril.’
    • ‘To our astonishment, not only did the seals' flippers glow, but so did the rest of their bodies.’
    • ‘Modern sirenians (manatees and dugongs) are large, docile, aquatic herbivores that have flippers for forelimbs and no hind limbs.’
    • ‘Harbor seals have short front flippers with claws which are used to move on land.’
    1. 1.1 A flat rubber attachment worn on the foot for underwater swimming.
      • ‘We could loll in the sun in deck chairs, or grab snorkels and flippers for a swim, or board a semisubmersible ship for a tour of the reef in comfort.’
      • ‘Quickly, they put on the snorkel masks and Ko reluctantly strapped on the rubber flippers.’
      • ‘A better analogy is to equate the new swimsuits with flippers and hand paddles, equipment devices that enhance performance.’
      • ‘I would bring lots of different clothes like jeans, trousers, shirts, T-shirts, swimming costumes, flippers and goggles, shorts if it is hot.’
      • ‘On their backs they had strapped on oxygen canisters, and they had flippers on their feet.’
      • ‘This is demonstrated by Thorpe and illustrated with the sensation a swimmer gets when swimming with flippers.’
      • ‘Ads for its retirement plan show a pair of feet in diving flippers, stretched out on a tropical beach.’
      • ‘Umberto removed the flippers from his feet and ambled about the end of the small island.’
      • ‘Drills with kickboards and flippers help to strengthen the kick.’
      • ‘Now swap all skates, helmets and padding for flippers, snorkels and swimsuits.’
      • ‘He couldn't have looked more out of his depth had he taken to the field in flippers and a wetsuit.’
      • ‘‘I met a designer today who was actually talking about embedding rhinestones into swimwear flippers,’ says a senior brand manager.’
      • ‘He swam through in a heavy swell, wearing a wetsuit and flippers, and watched by six fellow-students.’
      • ‘The leader, an Italian, was dressed in swimming trunks, a mask and snorkel and flippers and the children were exploding with giggles at the sight of this extraordinary man.’
      • ‘Customers can also win a pair of Turkey feet - like rubber flippers.’
      • ‘Crunching awkwardly over the broken glass (her father's shoes were like flippers on her feet) she peered down at the brick and saw that there was a piece of paper wrapped around it.’
      • ‘Then came the lead weights around our waists, the heavy oxygen cylinders, the masks, and the huge flippers for our feet.’
      • ‘But then he appeared to be wearing swimming trunks and flippers!’
      • ‘When Dara Torres hung it up, there was a horde of 14-17-year-olds eager to fill her flippers.’
      • ‘Sure, people noticed the flipper attached to the prosthesis on his left leg.’
    2. 1.2 A pivoted arm in a pinball machine, controlled by the player and used for sending the ball back up the table.
      • ‘Now there are volcanoes and floods and all manner of badness, and it's up to you as the player to set things right with flippers and ball.’
      • ‘At 21 Shane Warne thought a flipper was pinball jargon.’
      • ‘Until then, however, the gameplay depends on twiddling two flippers and watching as your tiny silver ball swoops around the environments.’
      • ‘The machine resembles a vertical pinball box without the flippers to control the dropping of the ball from top to bottom - the only control is the powerflicker, with which you can propel the balls faster or slower into the box.’
      • ‘A smiling attendant directed participants towards one of four control stations, from which each directed one of the four giant flippers in the huge pinball machine.’
      • ‘Bumper is a very playable pinball game where you control the flippers on a virtual pinball machine.’
      • ‘Gaspard's also boasts an original pre-impressionist juke box, complete with scratchy Sartrean torch songs by Greco and Piaf, and a pinball machine whose left flipper has been bust since Stevenson's day.’
      • ‘The flipper action is fast and true and the ball physics are consistent, especially off the flippers and bumpers.’
      • ‘The in-game physics is good, and the ball responds well to a swift flick of the flipper, or you can trap it in the corner (a trick favoured by pinball wizards from Soho to Brighton).’
      • ‘Hey, hitting the flippers and watching my giant iron ball crush hundreds of little troops was oddly gratifying, what can I say?’
    3. 1.3informal A hand.