flitter vs flutter what difference

what is difference between flitter and flutter


Etymology 1

From Middle English flytteren, frequentative form of flitten, flytten, flütten, possibly from Old Norse flytja (to carry about, convey), equivalent to flit + -er (frequentative suffix).


flitter (third-person singular simple present flitters, present participle flittering, simple past and past participle flittered)

  1. To scatter in pieces.
  2. To move about rapidly and nimbly.
  3. To move quickly from one condition or location to another.
    • 2003, Rudy Gray, D’n’d, iUniverse, page 41,
      How she remembered the gray-feathered titmouse flittering about as she stared unbelievingly at the grave of her sister and clung to Reese, then five years old.
    • 2006, Katherine Macinnis, Kelsar, Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, page 60,
      There were two bugs flittering on either side of her.
    • 2014, Daniel Freeman, The Conquest, College Essays That Made a Difference, 6th Edition, Penguin Random House, page 129,
      The back of the group flittered in and out of my view, pulling me forward with only dim hopes of success.
  4. To flutter or quiver.

Derived terms

  • flittermouse
  • flittery

Etymology 2

From flit +‎ -er.


flitter (plural flitters)

  1. A rag; a tatter; a small piece or fragment.
    • 1953, Samuel Beckett, Watt
      But to return to where we left her, I see her still, propped up in a kind of stupor against one of the walls in which this wretched edifice abounds, her long grey greasy hair framing in its cowl of scrofulous mats a face where pallor, languor, hunger, acne, recent dirt, immemorial chagrin and surplus hair seemed to dispute the mastery. Flitters of perforated starch entwine an ear.
  2. Any of various hesperiid butterflies of the genus Hyarotis.
  3. (science fiction) A small aircraft or spacecraft.


  • (aircraft): Jeff Prucher, editor (2007), “flitter”, in Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, Oxford, Oxfordshire; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 66.
  • (aircraft): Jesse Sheidlower, editor (2001–2021), “flitter n.”, in Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.




  1. inflection of flittern:
    1. first-person singular present
    2. singular imperative



flitter n

  1. Laughter, ridicule.

Related terms

  • flatter
  • flattär
  • flittär



From Middle English floteren, from Old English floterian, flotorian (to float about, flutter), from Proto-Germanic *flutrōną, frequentative of Proto-Germanic *flutōną (to float), equivalent to float +‎ -er (frequentative suffix). Cognate with Low German fluttern, fluddern (to flutter), German flittern, Dutch fladderen; also Albanian flutur (butterfly). More at float.


  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈflʌtɚ/, [ˈflʌɾɚ]
  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈflʌtə/
  • Rhymes: -ʌtə(ɹ)


flutter (third-person singular simple present flutters, present participle fluttering, simple past and past participle fluttered)

  1. (intransitive) To flap or wave quickly but irregularly.
  2. (intransitive) Of a winged animal: to flap the wings without flying; to fly with a light flapping of the wings.
  3. (intransitive, aerodynamics) To undergo divergent oscillations (potentially to the point of causing structural failure) due to a positive feedback loop between elastic deformation and aerodynamic forces.
  4. (transitive) To cause something to flap.
  5. (transitive) To drive into disorder; to throw into confusion.
  6. (intransitive) To be in a state of agitation or uncertainty.
  7. (intransitive, obsolete) To be frivolous.
  8. (espionage, slang) To subject to a lie detector test.
    • 1978, Edward Jay Epstein, Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald (page 38)
      This was the first time that Nosenko had been subjected to a lie detector — or what the CIA called fluttering. The Soviet Union did not use such devices for interrogation.
    • 2002, Paul Eddy, Flint’s Law (page 90)
      “Anyway, she cracked and we fluttered her and—”
      Fluttered her?”
      “Sorry, gave her a polygraph, a lie detector test. And she passed, more or less, []



flutter (countable and uncountable, plural flutters)

  1. The act of fluttering; quick and irregular motion.
    • c. 1838, Richard Monckton Milnes, The Forest
      the chirp and flutter of some single bird
  2. A state of agitation.
    • flutter of spirits
    • 1900, Henry James, The Soft Side The Third Person Chapter 3
      Their visitor was an issue – at least to the imagination, and they arrived finally, under provocation, at intensities of flutter in which they felt themselves so compromised by his hoverings that they could only consider with relief the fact of nobody’s knowing.
  3. An abnormal rapid pulsation of the heart.
  4. (uncountable, aerodynamics) An extremely dangerous divergent oscillation caused by a positive feedback loop between the elastic deformation of an object and the aerodynamic forces acting on it, potentially resulting in structural failure.
  5. (Britain) A small bet or risky investment.
    • 30 July, 2009, Eurosport, Gray Matter: How will Schu do?
      So with his victory odds currently at 14/1 or 3/1 for the podium, he’s still most certainly well worth a flutter []
  6. A hasty game of cards or similar.
  7. (audio, electronics) The rapid variation of signal parameters, such as amplitude, phase, and frequency.
    Coordinate term: wow

Derived terms

  • aflutter
  • flutter in the dovecote
  • flutterby
  • fluttersome
  • fluttery


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