Definition of flutter in US English:



[no object]
  • 1(of a bird or other winged creature) fly unsteadily or hover by flapping the wings quickly and lightly.

    ‘a couple of butterflies fluttered around the garden’
    • ‘The hapless bird fluttered and flapped around the astonished patrons whilst desperately trying to gain its freedom.’
    • ‘My voice raised to a screech that sent a few birds fluttering into the air.’
    • ‘Butterflies fluttered thistle to thistle and flat fields stretched to low horizons but south, a mile away, the Wolds rise sharply.’
    • ‘Birds fluttered lightly from one tree to the next.’
    • ‘A rather beautiful yellow butterfly has just fluttered by the window.’
    • ‘Its blare sent birds fluttering from the branches of the live oak that overhung the gate, making the Spanish moss sway as if it were alive.’
    • ‘A moth slowly fluttered in an erratic circle around her, dancing jovially.’
    • ‘A pigeon had mistakenly fluttered inside the pub and was flapping in some women's faces.’
    • ‘The butterflies that were fluttering around the flowers quickly left the area and an eerie silence filled the clearing.’
    • ‘Birds fluttered by, and I think there were even some butterflies.’
    • ‘Tiny winged creatures flutter about, causing the children to duck and wave their arms.’
    • ‘The birds fluttered next to berry clusters while plucking fruits, sometimes landing on boughs to eat directly.’
    • ‘A pure cold moth landed on Peter's lips and fluttered there for a second.’
    • ‘Blue and white butterflies fluttered to and fro, and small furry forest creatures scurried about.’
    • ‘Shadows fluttered against the sunset as a few late birds fluttered to their roosts in the trees.’
    • ‘I found him sitting under the large oak in the centre of the garden staring at the birds fluttering about in among the flowers.’
    • ‘It tumbled at first, then caught the air in its frail wings and fluttered away, a spot of gold and emerald in the grim alleyway.’
    • ‘Even as a tiny butterfly fluttering about in your garden is a breath-taking sight, imagine scores of them thronging a place in the city's vicinity!’
    • ‘Looking out on the front lawn, I saw some birds fluttering around some food scraps.’
    • ‘The sun's rays came though the trees and the birds were fluttering around.’
    flit, hover, flitter, dance
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object (of a bird or other winged creature) flap (its wings) quickly and lightly.
      ‘the lark fluttered its wings, hovering’
      • ‘He would whistle whenever he wanted its presence and obediently it would flutter its wings to its owner's shoulders.’
      • ‘Everywhere around them colorful birds fluttered their wings, and the sound of flutes filled the air.’
      • ‘The small feathers, soft as down, bright or subdued in color, the delicate wings, fluttering with the need for flight.’
      • ‘The bird began to sing still more melodically, and then fluttered its wings and flew from its branch.’
      • ‘Black wings fluttered a hundred times a second to keep her aloft.’
      • ‘Filmy insects were circling the dusty plant on his desk, their transparent wings fluttering in the lamplight, and rain was trickling down the blue wall.’
      • ‘Even when Madeleine had brought her home a week ago and taken a Polaroid of her, she had fluttered her wings, but in a gentle way.’
      • ‘It twitched and fluttered its wings at him as if it was annoyed.’
      • ‘An owl fluttered its wings and both Heidi and I jumped out of fright.’
      • ‘They seem to be fluttering their wings and might fly away any moment.’
      • ‘We say: ‘The bird will try to flutter its wings, and it will fall and die.’’
      • ‘It hung there in her grasp, wings still fluttering calmly.’
      • ‘As a last-ditch effort they initiate very unpredictable movements, fluttering their wings irregularly so that they tumble around in the sky, making them a difficult target to catch.’
      • ‘Wings fluttered and talons gripped, as he settled himself upon the strong hand.’
      • ‘No, I don't believe that if a butterfly flutters its wings in Washington, D.C. it will cause a typhoon in New Zealand.’
      • ‘It fluttered its wings and made crooning noises.’
      • ‘It was very still, fluttering its wings every now and then.’
      • ‘The ostrich walked up and down the aisle during the ceremony fluttering its wide-open wings all the while as if it were blessing the couple.’
      • ‘The voices thinned down and receded slowly, the owl fluttered its wings and took off from the tamarind tree.’
      • ‘Slowly, he unfolded his hands and a bright red, blue and purple butterfly fluttered its wings.’
      • ‘I stared back, and the great black bird fluttered its wings.’
      flap, move up and down, beat, quiver, agitate, vibrate, twitch, shake, wag, waggle, swing, oscillate, thresh, thrash, flail
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    2. 1.2with adverbial Move or fall with a light irregular or trembling motion.
      ‘the remaining petals fluttered to the ground’
      • ‘We went onto the deck and watched giant flakes of ash flutter to the ground.’
      • ‘At London's St Paul's Cathedral, 3,000 white rose petals fluttered down from the dome one for each victim who died.’
      • ‘A white piece of paper fluttered down to the floor.’
      • ‘He touched Jeff's name slightly, then let the page flutter to the floor.’
      • ‘They were sitting on a bench in the garden, as snowflakes fluttered from the sky.’
      • ‘She dropped the paper as it fluttered softly to the ground.’
      • ‘A huge cloth banner flutters between two trees, proclaiming the group's name: Red Cloud Thunder.’
      • ‘She finally saw him, leaning against the railing, hair fluttering in the light breeze.’
      • ‘The reason is obvious, as out of the envelope there flutters a torn scrap of paper on which he had put 24 kisses.’
      • ‘She was beginning to stir, her long lashes fluttering against her cheeks.’
      • ‘Gauzy pale blue curtains hang over the windows and flutter in the breeze.’
      • ‘In his excitement, he didn't see the small envelope flutter to the ground.’
      • ‘They fluttered down, the petals cascading around the guests and the royal family, causing a gorgeous and divine sight.’
      • ‘Bella's head was bent over her folded hands, and her hair fluttered gently in a sudden wind.’
      • ‘The sky was blanketed in dark gray clouds and a light snow fluttered to Earth.’
      • ‘The flag fluttered silently on the bow and groups of ducks parted gracefully to let us pass.’
      • ‘His blue shirt fluttered in the light wind from above.’
      • ‘A half-mast Union Flag fluttered gently in the spring wind behind them.’
      • ‘Rhea's eyes fluttered for a moment before flickering open.’
      • ‘The window was open and the check curtains were fluttering in the light breeze coming in off the water.’
      • ‘His eyes fluttered against the light of his surroundings, still trying to adjust to the brightness of the world around him.’
      • ‘Let us see all those flags fluttering again.’
      • ‘He moved in slow motion, dark cloak fluttering with each deliberate step.’
      • ‘As she moved in to the living room she saw the curtains fluttering softly in the breeze.’
      flicker, bat
      flap, wave, ripple, undulate, stir, shake, quiver, shiver, tremble
      beat irregularly, beat weakly, palpitate, miss a beat, skip a beat, quiver, go pit-a-pat
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3with adverbial of direction (of a person) move restlessly or uncertainly.
      ‘the hostess fluttered forward to greet her guests’
      • ‘Children, teenagers and adults flutter to the local courts in search of enjoyment and exercise.’
      • ‘While she was fluttering around her office, giving me my schedule and a school map, she shouted out little bits of advice and suggestions for classes.’
      • ‘No longer were prospective mates fluttering round him at every turn.’
      • ‘The nurses were already fluttering around her, busy preparing for the arrival of the future heir.’
      • ‘Clear as day he sees the scribes fluttering around him with wings of ink; each brush against the walls leaves a searing paragraph.’
      • ‘‘Babe,’ she cooed fluttering over to Liam and wrapping her arms around his neck.’
      • ‘William fluttered around him, trying to pull the other boy to the mistletoe next to the windows.’
      • ‘Ashley and her friends fluttered between their two suites at the Hotel Casa Del Mar, getting ready for a night out.’
      • ‘Children fluttered around, overwhelmed by the sights around them.’
      • ‘She vamps and coos and then is swept into a back room to change into the next fab outfit, assistants fluttering on every side of her.’
      • ‘Women fluttered among buzzing auto-rickshaws and brake-screeching scooters.’
    4. 1.4 (of a pulse or heartbeat) beat feebly or irregularly.
      • ‘His fingers closed around one slender wrist, groping, and discovered a feeble, fluttering pulse.’
      • ‘Rob's heart began to flutter as he saw the spark of recognition on the young chieftain's face.’
      • ‘Several of the assassins were still alive, if barely, and their heartbeats fluttered as their lives ebbed slowly away.’
      • ‘She smiled to herself, just seeing him like that made her heart flutter!’
      • ‘Anna bent down to press her lips to the point on his neck where the pulse fluttered.’
      • ‘My heart began to flutter so badly I dropped them on the floor.’
      • ‘But there is only one sure-fire way to send pulses racing and hearts fluttering, and that's alcohol.’
      • ‘It settled my nervous fluttering heart beat, which settled to a slightly quicker-then-normal, but less uncomfortable pace.’
      • ‘My heart was now fluttering, my pulse quickening.’
      • ‘Like a big, goofy lug, Jerry gave the biggest smile ever, and his heart began to flutter with anxiety.’
      • ‘Almost instantaneously her heart began to flutter as she saw him kneel down beside a poor, hungry little boy and hand him a hot muffin.’
      • ‘Pressed up against her, Aelex could feel the fluttering heartbeat.’
      • ‘Most people have experienced these occasional, brief irregular heartbeats that feel like a skipped, fluttering or racing heartbeat.’
      • ‘His heart fluttered nervously, but he kept his eyes on the road.’
      • ‘I felt my heart flutter in my chest as butterflies stirred in my stomach.’
      • ‘He could see, from the corner of his eye, the pulses fluttering in their throats.’
      • ‘The squeamish may feel their pulses flutter at times, but the geeky, the prurient, and the gothic will find much to savor.’
      • ‘The faint rhythm of a pulse finally fluttered beneath my fingertips.’
      • ‘Devon felt his heart flutter in his chest.’
      • ‘All do precisely what's expected of them yet fail to really set the pulse fluttering.’


  • 1An act of fluttering.

    ‘there was a flutter of wings at the window’
    • ‘Only the faint flutter of the nylon wing above me can be heard.’
    • ‘But Robyn could detect no movement other than the occasional gentle flutter of leaves on the trees.’
    • ‘She gets wasted, hitched, and divorced in the girlie flutter of an eyelash.’
    • ‘One flutter of those eyelashes and waiters are throwing themselves at her feet.’
    • ‘Last man standing, Tony hears the flutter of pigeon wings and has time for one last cry before rushing off into the protection of some nearby bushes.’
    • ‘A flutter of black wings, and it was gone from its perch of observation.’
    • ‘I detected a flutter in the movement of his top lip.’
    • ‘It wasn't really a kiss, more like a flutter of butterfly wings.’
    • ‘Katarinka changed into her old smock in a flutter of fabric, leaving her new one in her mother's lap as she whirled out the door.’
    • ‘Now alone in the courtyard except for a comatose cat, Ariela's thoughts turn to the past two years and how her life changed in the flutter of a wing.’
    • ‘It is said that a simple flutter of a butterfly's wings could cause a typhoon halfway around the world…’
    • ‘It gave a rapid flutter of its wings, carrying it off the ground.’
    • ‘With a flutter of his wings and a low, rasping call, a male hoopoe lands at the rim of the nest cavity, holding a small caterpillar in his curved bill.’
    • ‘The girl in the center moved with such a rhythm, her feet touched the pavement in a flutter.’
    • ‘With a simple flutter of Ama's eyelashes the woman appeared before her.’
    • ‘She strode down the runway in a flutter of organza, stopped, twirled, and smiled.’
    • ‘The hard flutter of their wings in the wind is as unmistakable as racehorse hoof beats.’
    • ‘She was careful not to turn her head as she heard the flutter of wings behind her.’
    • ‘Lost in her thoughts, she missed the light flutter of eyelids from the body on the bed.’
    • ‘A gawking cry and a sudden flutter of wings were heard.’
    agitation, beating, flapping, quivering, vibrating, twitching, shaking, wagging, oscillation, threshing, thrashing, flailing
    flicker, bat
    flapping, waving, rippling
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A state or sensation of tremulous excitement.
      ‘her insides were in a flutter’
      ‘Sandra felt a flutter in the pit of her stomach’
      • ‘Cat felt a flutter in the pit of her stomach and instinctively pulled her leg away.’
      • ‘As horrible a character as Amanda was, I could not suppress a flutter at seeing her slink around in that skintight black dress.’
      • ‘You can't help but feel a flutter in the stomach every time a big game starts.’
      • ‘Looking at him, seeing the warmth of his dark eyes, feeling the flutter of nerves, I didn't know why I had ever thought badly of him.’
      • ‘A flutter of excitement rolled through her stomach and she broke into a sprint, racing for the gate.’
      • ‘And was that not a flutter of excitement in her stomach?’
      • ‘They carried the flag without a flutter of excitement.’
      • ‘I saw him grinning out of the corner of my eye and I got a little flutter of warmth in my stomach.’
      • ‘The incidents have caused flutters across India.’
      • ‘TechReview gets all in a flutter about the new range of ‘value’ drives from Maxtor.’
      • ‘The company's decision to patrol the Net has got you all in a flutter.’
      • ‘She breathed a sigh of relief, and felt her heart give a warm flutter of excitement.’
      • ‘Words that inspired generations cause a dyspeptic flutter in some intellectual breasts.’
      • ‘It's even possible to feel the excitement and flutter in your stomach when you begin contact that you feel when meeting a potential date for the first time!’
      • ‘A dinosaur-dotty mum, who helped discover a missing link in our past, has been causing a real flutter in the scientific world.’
      • ‘Suddenly a flutter of panic started in her stomach and she tried to pull away from her dance partner.’
      • ‘That evening I was even more in a flutter than her, although I tried not to show it.’
      • ‘There was a flutter of excitement through the dancefloor when he played a long remix of the Rolling Stone's Paint It Black.’
      • ‘He sounded so serious, and a flutter of panic took my heart.’
      • ‘Feeling a strange flutter in the pit of my stomach, I looked away.’
      tremor, wave, rush, surge, flash, stab, flush, tremble, quiver, shake, shaking, shakiness, shiver, frisson, chill, thrill, tingle, vibration, quaver, quake, shudder, palpitation, pulsation, throb, oscillation, fluctuation, waver, ripple, flicker
      fluster, flurry, bustle, panic, state of agitation, state of panic
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Medicine Disturbance of the rhythm of the heart that is less severe than fibrillation.
      ‘atrial flutter’
      ‘I was diagnosed as having a heart flutter’
      • ‘Patients should be monitored for an exacerbation of atrial fibrillation or flutter, and for increasing ventricular rates.’
      • ‘The study showed that men who express their anger have a 10 percent greater risk than non-hostile men of developing an atrial fibrillation, a heart flutter.’
      • ‘It is not uncommon for this rhythm to progress into atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation.’
      • ‘Digoxin is incapable of converting atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter to a normal sinus rhythm.’
      • ‘He insists he is not aware of any heart flutters or whatever to alert him to this problem.’
    3. 1.3Aeronautics Undesired oscillation in a part of an aircraft under stress.
      • ‘During his brief test flight, Bullard had experienced an episode of flutter.’
      • ‘In this area he published on the forces on aircraft wings, in particular studying stress and sonic flutter.’
      • ‘I found it hard to believe a rudder flutter caused this vibration because it increased or decreased with throttle movements.’
      • ‘The gear problem was quickly corrected but further testing showed that the craft had tail flutter.’
      • ‘This was due to an apparent structural weakness, and possible flutter, in the wing spar.’
    4. 1.4Electronics Rapid variation in the pitch or amplitude of a signal, especially of recorded sound.
      Compare with wow
      • ‘Wow, flutter and scrape flutter in a recording system, in tiny percentages, can be your friend.’
      • ‘Variations in audio playback rate would be discernible as wow and flutter, but slight variations in video playback framerate are not apparent.’
  • 2British informal A small bet.

    ‘a flutter on the horses’
    • ‘The occasional flutter on the National Lottery does no real harm to individuals but, as with all gambling, it damages our long-term financial future.’
    • ‘After all, doesn't everyone enjoy a little flutter before an election campaign?’
    • ‘Patty loved her bingo and a game of 45 and a flutter on the horses.’
    • ‘Bookies estimate that up to 15 million people, a third of the adult population, will have a flutter on the four-and-a-half mile steeplechase.’
    • ‘And although not averse to the odd flutter, he does not bet during meetings.’
    • ‘Currently in Australia, online gambling is mostly confined to wagering, a flutter on the races or sports betting.’
    • ‘Are you going to have a flutter on this year's Grand National?’
    • ‘Fancy a big-time flutter in the gambling capital of the world?’
    • ‘Many punters in the town had a flutter on Saturday's winner, watched by millions of TV viewers throughout the world.’
    • ‘Some people enjoy a little flutter, and see gambling as a harmless leisure activity.’
    • ‘He enjoyed a flutter on the horses and a game of cards.’
    • ‘Fancy a flutter, without the risk of losing your cash?’
    • ‘Champagne was served before noon to kick-start the day, and a bookmaker was even invited to take bets should anyone fancy a flutter.’
    • ‘Spread betting makes a flutter on the general election more interesting as it's no longer a two horse race, but a prediction of seats won by the party of the punter's choice.’
    • ‘For a night of light-hearted comedy, Risk Everything is something I would definitely have a flutter on!’
    • ‘He was estimated to have won £100,000 in his career but his love of a flutter on greyhounds bankrupted him.’
    • ‘If I was a betting man I would have an each-way flutter on him.’
    • ‘Any fans who fancy a consolation flutter should opt for 2-to Villarreal as history suggests this fate awaits them at El Madrigal on March 7.’
    • ‘So why not come along and support, have a flutter and enjoy the action of a night out at the dogs.’
    • ‘Remember that it's your comfortable retirement you're talking about, not a flutter on the horses.’
    bet, wager, gamble
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  • flutter one's eyelashes

    • Open and close one's eyes rapidly in a coyly flirtatious manner.

      • ‘You'll just simper and flutter your eyelashes coyly.’
      • ‘All she had to do was flutter her eyelashes and he'd do anything for her.’
      • ‘I stood and watched as she flicked her hair over her shoulder and fluttered her eyelashes at the closest guy.’
      • ‘I can be one of the boys, but when I want something I can flutter my eyelashes too.’
      • ‘She gave him a flirtatious grin, fluttering her eyelashes just a little for effect.’
      • ‘He knows that he can cruise up on stage, croon out any old rubbish, flutter his eyelashes at the camera and get ten billion votes as a result.’
      • ‘They fluttered their eyelashes at him from afar.’
      • ‘Smiling, I tilted my head toward him and fluttered my eyelashes in what I hoped was a flirty manner.’
      • ‘She fluttered her eyelashes at Mark, and he blushed again and fumbled for his wallet.’
      • ‘Scarcely an exchange goes by without her flashing her top teeth, fluttering her eyelashes, pursing her lips or cocking her head with a teasing playfulness.’


Old English floterian, flotorian, a frequentative form related to fleet.