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    flag (n.3) — flavor (n.)

    flag (n.3)

    plant growing in moist places, late 14c., "reed, rush," perhaps from Scandinavian (compare Danish flæg "yellow iris") or from Dutch flag; perhaps ultimately connected to flag (v.1) on notion of "fluttering in the breeze."ETD flag (n.3).2

    flag (n.2)

    "flat stone for paving," c. 1600, ultimately from Old Norse flaga "stone slab," from Proto-Germanic *flago- (from extended form of PIE root *plak- (1) "to be flat"). Earlier in English as "piece cut from turf or sod" (mid-15c.), from Old Norse flag "spot where a piece of turf has been cut out," from flaga.ETD flag (n.2).2

    flagellation (n.)

    early 15c., "the scourging of Christ," from Old French flagellacion "scourging, flogging," or directly from Latin flagellationem (nominative flagellatio) "a scourging," noun of action from past-participle stem of flagellare "to scourge, lash" (see flagellum). In a general sense from 1520s.ETD flagellation (n.).2

    flagellate (v.)

    "to whip, scourge," 1620s, from Latin flagellatus, past participle of flagellare "to scourge, lash" (see flagellum). Related: Flagellated; flagellating. An earlier verb for this in English was flagellen (mid-15c.; see flail (v.)).ETD flagellate (v.).2

    flagellant (n.)

    late 16c., "one who whips or scourges himself for religious discipline," from Latin flagellantem (nominative flagellans), present participle of flagellare "to scourge, lash" (see flagellum). There were notable outbreaks of it in 1260 and 1340s. As an adjective, "given to flagellation," 1880.ETD flagellant (n.).2

    flagellate (adj.)

    1851, from flagellum + -ate (1).ETD flagellate (adj.).2

    flagellum (n.)

    "long, lash-like appendage," 1837, from Latin flagellum "whip, scourge," also figurative, diminutive of flagrum "a whip," from PIE root *bhlag- "to strike" (source also of Latin flagitium "shameful act, passionate deed, disgraceful thing," flagitare "to demand importunately;" Old Norse blakra "to flutter with the wings," blekkja "to impose upon;" Lithuanian blaškau, blaškyti "to and fro").ETD flagellum (n.).2

    flageolet (n.)

    flute-like instrument, 1650s, from French flageolet, diminutive of Old French flajol, from Provençal flajol, which is of uncertain origin, perhaps ultimately from Latin flare "to blow" (according to Watkins from PIE root *bhle- "to blow").ETD flageolet (n.).2

    flagitious (adj.)

    "shamefully wicked, criminal," late 14c., from Old French flagicieus or directly from Latin flagitiosus "shameful, disgraceful, infamous," from flagitium "shameful act, passionate deed, disgraceful thing," related to flagrum "a whip, scourge, lash," and flagitare "to demand importunately," all from PIE root *bhlag- "to strike" (see flagellum). Related: Flagitiously; flagitiousness.ETD flagitious (adj.).2

    flagman (n.)

    also flag-man, "signaler," 1832, from flag (n.1) + man (n.). Earlier it meant "admiral" (1660s).ETD flagman (n.).2

    flagon (n.)

    "large bottle for wine or liquor," mid-15c., from Old French flacon, flascon "small bottle, flask" (14c.), from Late Latin flasconem (nominative flasco) "bottle" (see flask).ETD flagon (n.).2

    flagpole (n.)

    also flag-pole, 1782, from flag (n.1) + pole (n.1). Flagpole-sitting as a craze is attested from 1927.ETD flagpole (n.).2

    flagrance (n.)

    "glaring shamefulness," 1610s, from French flagrance or directly from Latin flagrantia "a glow, ardor, a burning desire," abstract noun from flagrantem "burning, blazing, glowing" (see flagrant). Related: Flagrancy (1590s).ETD flagrance (n.).2

    flagrant (adj.)

    c. 1500, "resplendent" (obsolete), from Latin flagrantem (nominative flagrans) "burning, blazing, glowing," figuratively "glowing with passion, eager, vehement," present participle of flagrare "to burn, blaze, glow," from Proto-Italic *flagro- "burning" (source also of Oscan flagio-, an epithet of Iuppiter), corresponding to PIE *bhleg-ro-, from *bhleg- "to shine, flash, burn" (source also of Greek phlegein "to burn, scorch," Latin fulgere "to shine"), from root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn." Sense of "glaringly offensive, scandalous" (rarely used of persons) first recorded 1706, probably from common legalese phrase flagrante delicto "while the crime is being committed, red-handed," literally "with the crime still blazing." Related: Flagrantly.ETD flagrant (adj.).2

    flagship (n.)

    also flag-ship, 1670s, a warship bearing the flag of an admiral, vice-admiral, or rear-admiral, from flag (n.) + ship (n.). Properly, at sea, a flag is the banner by which an admiral is distinguished from the other ships in his squadron, other banners being ensigns, pendants, standards, etc. Figurative use by 1933.ETD flagship (n.).2

    flagstaff (n.)

    1610s, from flag (n.) + staff (n.). The settlement in Arizona, U.S., said to have been so called for a July 4, 1876, celebration in which a large flag was flown from a tall tree.ETD flagstaff (n.).2

    flagstone (n.)

    "any rock which splits easily into flags," 1730, from flag (n.2) "flat, split stone" + stone (n.).ETD flagstone (n.).2


    surname, Irish Flaithbheartach, literally "Bright-Ruler."ETD Flaherty.2

    flay (v.)

    Old English flean "to skin, to flay" (strong verb, past tense flog, past participle flagen), from Proto-Germanic *flahan (source also of Middle Dutch vlaen, Old High German flahan, Old Norse fla), from PIE root *pl(e)ik-, *pleik- "to tear, rend" (source also of Lithuanian plėšti "to tear"). Related: Flayed; flaying.ETD flay (v.).2

    flail (n.)

    implement for threshing grain, c. 1100, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English *flegel, which, if it existed, probably is from West Germanic *flagil (source also of Middle Dutch and Low German vlegel, Old High German flegel, German flegel), a West Germanic borrowing of Late Latin flagellum "winnowing tool, flail," in classical Latin "a whip" (see flagellum).ETD flail (n.).2

    flail (v.)

    mid-15c., "to whip, scourge," from flail (n.). Sense of "to move like a flail" is from 1873. Related: Flailed; flailing.ETD flail (v.).2

    flair (n.)

    mid-14c., "an odor," from Old French flaire "odor or scent," especially in hunting, "fragrance, sense of smell," from flairier "to give off an odor; stink; smell sweetly" (Modern French flairer), from Vulgar Latin *flagrare, a dissimilation of Latin fragrare "emit (a sweet) odor" (see fragrant). Sense of "special aptitude" is American English, 1925, probably from hunting and the notion of a hound's ability to track scent.ETD flair (n.).2

    flak (n.)

    1938, "anti-aircraft gun," from German Flak, condensed from Fliegerabwehrkanone, literally "pilot warding-off cannon." Sense of "anti-aircraft fire" is from 1940; metaphoric sense of "criticism" is c. 1963 in American English. Flak jacket is by 1956.ETD flak (n.).2

    flake (v.)

    early 15c., flaken, (of snow) "to fall in flakes," from flake (n.). Transitive meaning "break or peel off in flakes" is from 1620s; intransitive sense of "to come off in flakes" is from 1759. . Related: Flaked; flaking.ETD flake (v.).2

    flake (n.)

    "thin flat piece of snow; a particle," early 14c., also flauke, flagge, which is of uncertain origin, possibly from Old English *flacca "flakes of snow," or from cognate Old Norse flak "flat piece," from Proto-Germanic *flakaz (source also of Middle Dutch vlac, Dutch vlak "flat, level," Middle High German vlach, German Flocke "flake"); from PIE root *plak- (1) "to be flat." From late 14c. as "a speck, a spot."ETD flake (n.).2

    flaky (adj.)

    1570s, "consisting of flakes," from flake + -y (2). Meaning "eccentric, crazy" first recorded 1959, said to be American English baseball slang, but probably from earlier druggie slang flake "cocaine" (1920s). Flake (n.) "eccentric person" is a 1968 back-formation from it. Related: Flakiness.ETD flaky (adj.).2

    flam (n.)

    1630s, "sham story, fabrication," also as a verb, "to deceive by flattery;" see flim-flam.ETD flam (n.).2

    flambe (adj.)

    1869, of certain types of porcelain, 1914 as a term in cookery, from French flambé, past participle of flamber "to singe, blaze" (16c.), from Old French flambe "a flame" (from Latin flamma "flame, blazing fire," from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn"). Middle English had flame (v.) in cookery sense "baste (a roast) with hot grease, to baste; to glaze (pastry)."ETD flambe (adj.).2

    flambeau (n.)

    also flambeaux, 1630s, "flaming torch," from French flambeau (14c.), from flambe "flame" (from Latin flamma "flame, blazing fire," from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn"). By 1883 as "a large, decorative candlestick."ETD flambeau (n.).2

    flamboyance (n.)

    1849, from flamboyant + -ance. Related: Flamboyancy (1846).ETD flamboyance (n.).2

    flamboyant (adj.)

    1832, originally in reference to a 15c.-16c. architectural style with wavy, flame-like curves, from French flamboyant "flaming, wavy," present participle of flamboyer "to flame," from Old French flamboiier "to flame, flare, blaze, glow, shine" (12c.), from flambe "a flame, flame of love," from flamble, variant of flamme, from Latin flammula "little flame," diminutive of flamma "flame, blazing fire" (from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn"). Extended sense of "showy, ornate" is from 1879. Related: Flamboyantly.ETD flamboyant (adj.).2

    flaming (adj.)

    late 14c., "flame-like in appearance;" c. 1400, "on fire," present-participle adjective from flame (v.). Meaning "of bright or gaudy colors" is from mid-15c. As an intensifying adjective, late 19c. Meaning "glaringly homosexual" is homosexual slang, 1970s (along with flamer (n.) "conspicuously homosexual man"); but flamer "glaringly conspicuous person or thing" (1809) and flaming "glaringly conspicuous" (1781) are much earlier in a general sense, both originally with reference to "wenches." Related: Flamingly.ETD flaming (adj.).2

    flame (n.)

    Middle English flaume, also flaumbe, flambe, flame, flamme, mid-14c., "a flame;" late 14c., "a flaming mass, a fire; fire in general, fire as an element;" also figurative, in reference to the "heat" or "fire" of emotions, from Anglo-French flaume, flaumbe "a flame" (Old French flambe, 10c.), from Latin flammula "small flame," diminutive of flamma "flame, blazing fire," from PIE *bhleg- "to shine, flash," from root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn."ETD flame (n.).2

    The meaning "a sweetheart, object of one's passion" is attested from 1640s; the figurative sense of "burning passion" was in Middle English, and the nouns in Old French and Latin also meant "fire of love, flame of passion," and, in Latin "beloved object." The Australian flame-tree is from 1857, so called for its red flowers.ETD flame (n.).3

    flame (v.)

    Middle English flaumen, also flaumben, flomben, flamben, flamen, flammen, c. 1300 (implied in flaming "to shine (like fire), gleam, sparkle like flames;" mid-14c. as "emit flames, be afire, to blaze," from Anglo-French flaumer, flaumber (Old French flamber) "burn, be on fire, be alight" (intransitive), from flamme "a flame" (see flame (n.)).ETD flame (v.).2

    Transitive meaning "to burn, set on fire" is from 1580s. Meaning "break out in violence of passion" is from 1540s; the sense of "unleash invective on a computer network" is from 1980s. Related: Flamed; flaming. To flame out, in reference to jet engines, is from 1950.ETD flame (v.).3

    flamen (n.)

    "ancient Roman priest," 1530s, from Latin flamen "a priest of one deity," which is of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE root *bhlad- "to worship" (source also of Gothic blotan, Old English blotan "to sacrifice"). Also used from early 14c., in imitation of Geoffrey of Monmouth, in reference to ancient pre-Christian British priests. Related: Flamineous.ETD flamen (n.).2

    flamenco (n.)

    1882, from Spanish flamenco, first used of Gypsy dancing in Andalusia. The word in Spanish meant "a Fleming, native of Flanders" (Dutch Vlaming) and also "flamingo." Speculations are varied and colorful about the connection between the bird, the people, and the gypsy dance of Andalusia.ETD flamenco (n.).2

    Spain ruled Flanders for many years in 16c., and King Carlos I brought with him to Madrid an entire Flemish court. One etymology suggests the dance was so called from the bright costumes and energetic movements, which the Spanish associated with Flanders; another is that Spaniards, especially Andalusians, like to name things by their opposites, and because the Flemish were tall and blond and the gypsies short and dark, the gypsies were called "Flemish;" others hold that flamenco was the general Spanish word for all foreigners, gypsies included; or that Flemish noblemen, bored with court life, took to slumming among the gypsies. Compare Gypsy.ETD flamenco (n.).3

    flamer (n.)

    1590s, agent noun from flame (v.). Figurative sense "glaringly conspicuous person" is from 1809. For homosexual slang sense, see flaming.ETD flamer (n.).2

    flame-thrower (n.)

    also flamethrower, 1917, translating German Flammenwerfer (1915). See flame (n.) + throw (v.).ETD flame-thrower (n.).2

    flamingo (n.)

    long-legged, long-necked brightly colored pink bird of the tropical Americas, 1560s, from Portuguese flamengo, Spanish flamengo, literally "flame-colored" (compare Greek phoinikopteros "flamingo," literally "red-feathered"), from Provençal flamenc, from flama "flame" (see flame (n.)) + Germanic suffix -enc "-ing, belonging to." Perhaps accommodated to words for Fleming (see flamenco).ETD flamingo (n.).2

    flammable (adj.)

    1813, from stem of Latin flammare "to set on fire" (from flamma "flame, blazing fire;" see flame (n.)) + -able. In modern (20c.) use, a way to distinguish from the ambiguity of inflammable.ETD flammable (adj.).2

    flan (n.)

    "open tart," 1846, from French flan "custard tart, cheesecake," from Old French flaon "flat-cake, tart, flan" (12c.), from Medieval Latin flado (10c.), which probably is from Frankish *flado or another Germanic source (compare Old High German flado "offering cake," Middle High German vlade "a broad, thin cake," Dutch vla "baked custard"), from Proto-Germanic *flatho(n) "flat cake," which is probably from PIE root *plat- "to spread." Borrowed earlier as flawn (c. 1300), from Old French.ETD flan (n.).2


    from a source akin to Dutch Vlaanderen probably a compound of roots represented by Flemish vlakte "plain" + wanderen "to wander."ETD Flanders.2

    flaneur (n.)

    "habitual loafer, idle man about town," 1854, from French flâneur, from flâner "to stroll, loaf, saunter," probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse flana "to wander aimlessly," Norwegian flana, flanta "to gad about"), perhaps from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread." Related: flânerie.ETD flaneur (n.).2

    flange (n.)

    1680s, "a widening or branching out," of unknown origin, perhaps related to Old French flanche "flank, hip, side," fem. of flanc (see flank (n.)). Meaning "projecting rim, etc., used for strength or guidance" is from 1735. As a verb from 1820.ETD flange (n.).2

    flank (v.)

    1590s (military), "to guard the flank," also, "to menace the flank, fire sideways upon," from flank (n.). Meaning "stand or be placed at the side of" is from 1650s. Related: Flanked; flanking.ETD flank (v.).2

    flank (n.)

    late Old English flanc "flank, fleshy part of the side," from Old French flanc "hip, side," from Frankish or another Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *hlanca- (source also of Old High German (h)lanca, Middle High German lanke "hip joint," German lenken "to bend, turn aside;" Old English hlanc "loose and empty, slender, flaccid;" Old Norse hlykkr "a bend, noose, loop"), from PIE root *kleng- "to bend, turn" (see link (n.)). Showing characteristic change of Germanic hl- to Romanic fl-. The military sense is first attested 1540s. Meaning "side" of anything is by 1620s. As an adjective, "pertaining to the flank or side," 1660s. Related: Flanked; flanking.ETD flank (n.).2

    flanker (n.)

    1550s, from flank (n.).ETD flanker (n.).2

    flannel (n.)

    "warm, loosely woven woolen stuff," c. 1300, flaunneol, probably related to Middle English flanen "sackcloth" (c. 1400); by Skeat and others traced to Welsh gwlanen "woolen cloth," from gwlan "wool," from Celtic *wlana, from PIE *wele- (1) "wool" (see wool). "As flannel was already in the 16th c. a well-known production of Wales, a Welsh origin for the word seems antecedently likely" [OED].ETD flannel (n.).2

    The Welsh origin is not a universally accepted etymology, due to the sound changes involved; Barnhart, Gamillscheg, Diez suggest the English word is from an Anglo-French diminutive of Old French flaine "a kind of coarse wool." Modern French flanelle is a 17c. borrowing from English.ETD flannel (n.).3

    flap (v.)

    early 14c., "dash about, shake, beat (the wings);" later "strike, hit" (mid-14c.); probably ultimately imitative. Meaning "to swing about loosely" is from 1520s. Related: Flapped; flapping.ETD flap (v.).2

    flap (n.)

    mid-14c., flappe "a blow, slap, buffet," probably imitative of the sound of striking. Sense of "device for slapping or striking" is from early 15c. Meaning "something that hangs down" is first recorded 1520s, probably from flap (v.). Sense of "motion or noise like a bird's wing" is 1774; meaning "disturbance, noisy tumult" is 1916, British slang.ETD flap (n.).2

    flapdoodle (n.)

    1833, originally "the stuff they feed fools on" [Marryat]; probably an arbitrary formation from elements meant to sound ridiculous, perhaps with allusions to flap "a stroke, blow" and doodle "fool, simpleton."ETD flapdoodle (n.).2

    flapjack (n.)

    pre-1600, from flap (v.) + jack (n.), using the personal name in its "generic object" sense. So called from the process of baking it by flipping and catching it in the griddle when done on one side.ETD flapjack (n.).2

    flapper (n.)

    1560s, "one who or that which flaps," agent noun from flap (v.).ETD flapper (n.).2

    A sense of "very young female prostitute" is recorded by 1889, but the word is used also in contemporary sources in the sense of "any young girl." The original suggestion seems to be the long braids or ponytails that were customary for younger girls to wear (opposed to the updos of adult women) which could themselves be called flappers or flaps.ETD flapper (n.).3

    The fashion flapper began about 1895, originally indicating an outgoing, slim-figured adult woman who wore her hair in girlish braids, curls or ponytails. Early adopters tended to be athletes and professional dancers. It was associated with the area of Piccadilly in London and with the Gaiety Theatre formerly located on the Strand; but by 1914, an article in Vanity Fair was jokingly lamenting "the passing of the Flapper" in favor of new feminine styles. Yet the term remained in use for young girls generally, and soon was applied ("flapper-length skirt") to the new fashion for short skirts (similar to what young girls traditionally wore instead of the ankle-length skirts worn by adult women) by 1916.ETD flapper (n.).4

    Because the old flappers of Piccadilly were often chorus girls, the term extended to actresses by 1912 and by 1917 it had come to designate a working woman of any profession. In Britain the word took on political tones in reference to the debate over voting rights.ETD flapper (n.).5

    Sense of "sexually licentious woman" is by 1914, probably derived from the chorus girl/actress sense rather than the young prostitute sense (the chorus girls had a reputation for living off the financial gifts of male admirers). This is the sense most often felt in 1920s texts decrying the flapper.ETD flapper (n.).6

    It may be worth noting that the above description comes from a science textbook.ETD flapper (n.).7

    flare (n.)

    "a giving off of a bright, unsteady light," 1814, from flare (v.). This led to the sense of "signal fire" (1883). The astronomy sense is from 1937. Meaning "a gradual widening or spreading" is from 1910; hence flares "flared trousers" (1964).ETD flare (n.).2

    flare (v.)

    1540s, "spread out" (hair), of unknown origin, perhaps from Scandinavian or from Dutch vlederen. Meaning "shine out with a sudden light" is from 1630s. The notion of "spreading out in display" is behind the notion of "spreading gradually outward" (1640s). Related: Flared; flaring.ETD flare (v.).2

    flare-up (n.)

    "a sudden burst," 1827 of an argument; 1858 of light, from verbal phrase; see flare (v.) + up (adv.). It seems to have had some vogue as a street expression in London in the 1830s.ETD flare-up (n.).2

    flash (adj.)

    from flash (v.) in various and unconnected senses, often slang; sense of "of or associated with thieves, prostitutes, etc." is from c. 1700. That of "vulgar, showy" is from 1785 (it is older in flashy). That of "expert, smart" is from 1812.ETD flash (adj.).2

    flash (v.)

    Middle English flashen, flasken (c. 1200), "sprinkle or splash (water, powder, etc.); to gush forth;" probably at least partly imitative (compare splash, dash), or in part from PIE *bhleu- "to swell, well up," extended form of root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell." From c. 1400, of birds, "to dart or flit" also, of fire, "burst into flames." Some of the extended senses perhaps are from Scandinavian. Meanings "burst suddenly into view" (intransitive) and "emit or send forth suddenly" (transitive) are from 1580s. the Sense of "expose the genitals" is recorded by 1846. Related: Flashed; flashing. Flash card is from 1923.ETD flash (v.).2

    flash (n.1)

    1560s, "sudden burst of flame or light," from flash (v.); originally of lightning. Figuratively (of wit, laughter, anger, etc.) from c. 1600. Meaning "period occupied by a flash, very short time" is from 1620s. Sense of "superficial brilliancy" is from 1670s. Meaning "first news report" is from 1857. The comic book character dates to 1940. Meaning "photographic lamp" is from 1913. Flash cube (remember those?) is from 1965.ETD flash (n.1).2

    Flash in the pan (1704 literal, 1705 figurative) is from old-style firearms, where the powder might ignite in the pan but fail to spark the main charge; hence figurative sense "brilliant outburst followed by failure."ETD flash (n.1).3

    flash (n.2)

    "sudden rush of water," 1660s, earlier "watery place or marsh, a swamp" (c. 1400; in place names from c. 1300), of uncertain origin or connection to flash (n.1); perhaps from Old French flache, from Middle Dutch vlacke. Flash flood is from 1940.ETD flash (n.2).2

    flashing (adj.)

    1540s, of light; present-participle adjective from flash (v.).ETD flashing (adj.).2

    flashing (n.)

    1791, "act of creating an artificial flood," verbal noun from flash (v.); also compare flash (n.2)). Meaning "indecent exposure" is by 1968 (see flasher). The meaning "strip of metal used in roofing, etc." is from 1782, earlier simply flash (1570s), but the sense connection is unclear and it might be an unrelated word.ETD flashing (n.).2

    flashback (n.)

    also flash-back, 1903 in reference to fires in engines or furnaces, from verbal phrase (1902), from flash (v.) + back (adv.). Movie plot device sense is from 1916. The hallucinogenic drug sense is attested in psychological literature from 1970, which means probably hippies were using it a few years before.ETD flashback (n.).2

    flasher (n.)

    1680s, "something that emits light in flashes," agent noun from flash (v.). Meaning "male genital exhibitionist" is from 1960s (meat-flasher in this sense was attested in 1890s and flash (v.) in the sense "expose the genitals" is recorded by 1846). Johnson (1755) has it also in the sense "one who makes a show of more wit than he possesses."ETD flasher (n.).2

    flashy (adj.)

    "showy, cheaply attractive," 1680s, from flash (n.1) + -y (2). Earlier it meant "splashing" (1580s); "sparkling, giving off flashes" (c. 1600), but those senses have become rare. Related: Flashily; flashiness.ETD flashy (adj.).2

    flashlight (n.)

    also flash-light, 1886, "on-and-off signal light in a light-house, etc.," from flash (v.) + light (n.). As the word for a photographer's light-emitting preparation, 1892 (flash-lamp in this sense is by 1890). From 1905 as as a handheld, pocket-sized electric illumination device, the American English word for what the British might call an electric torch.ETD flashlight (n.).2

    flash-point (n.)

    also flashpoint, "temperature at which vapor will ignite momentarily," 1869, from flash (v.) + point (n.). Figurative use by 1955. Slightly earlier as flashing-point (1867).ETD flash-point (n.).2

    flask (n.)

    mid-14c., from Medieval Latin flasco "container, bottle," from Late Latin flasconem (nominative flasco) "bottle," which is of uncertain origin. A word common to Germanic and Romanic, but it is unclear whether the Latin or Germanic word is the original (or whether both might have got it from the Celts). Those who support a Germanic origin compare Old English flasce "flask, bottle" (which would have become modern English *flash), Old High German flaska, Middle Dutch flasce, German Flasche "bottle." If it is Germanic, the original sense might be "bottle plaited round, case bottle" (compare Old High German flechtan "to weave," Old English fleohtan "to braid, plait"), from Proto-Germanic base *fleh- (see flax).ETD flask (n.).2

    Another theory traces the Late Latin word to a metathesis of Latin vasculum. "The assumption that the word is of Teut[onic] origin is chronologically legitimate, and presents no difficulty exc[ept] the absence of any satisfactory etymology" [OED]. The similar words in Finnish and Slavic are held to be from Germanic.ETD flask (n.).3

    flatness (n.)

    mid-15c., "state or quality of being flat," from flat (adj.) + -ness.ETD flatness (n.).2

    flats (n.)

    "level tidal tract," 1540s, from flat (n.) in the Middle English "level piece of ground" sense.ETD flats (n.).2

    flat (adv.)

    1550s, "absolutely, downright;" 1570s, "plainly, positively," from flat (adj.). Flat-out (adv.) "openly, directly" is from 1932, originally in motor racing, picked up in World War II by the airmen; earlier it was a noun meaning "total failure" (1870, U.S. colloquial).ETD flat (adv.).2

    flat (v.)

    c. 1600, "to lay flat;" 1670s in music, from flat (adj.). Related: Flatted; flatting.ETD flat (v.).2

    flat (adj.)

    c. 1300, "stretched out (on a surface), prostrate, lying the whole length on the ground;" mid-14c., "level, all in one plane; even, smooth;" of a roof, "low-pitched," from Old Norse flatr "flat," from Proto-Germanic *flata- (source also of Old Saxon flat "flat, shallow," Old High German flaz "flat, level," Old High German flezzi "floor"), from PIE root *plat- "to spread."ETD flat (adj.).2

    From c. 1400 as "without curvature or projection." Sense of "prosaic, dull" is from 1570s, on the notion of "featureless, lacking contrast." Used of drink from c. 1600; of women's bosoms by 1864. Of musical notes from 1590s, because the tone is "lower" than a given or intended pitch. As the B of the modern diatonic scale was the first tone to be so modified, the "flat" sign as well as the "natural" sign in music notation are modified forms of the letter b (rounded or square).ETD flat (adj.).3

    Flat tire or flat tyre is from 1908. Flat-screen (adj.) in reference to television is from 1969 as a potential technology. Flat-earth (adj.) in reference to refusal to accept evidence of a global earth, is from 1876.ETD flat (adj.).4

    flat (n.)

    1801, "a story of a house," from Scottish flat "floor or story of a house," from Old English flett "a dwelling, hall; floor, ground," from Proto-Germanic *flatja-, from suffixed form of PIE root *plat- "to spread."ETD flat (n.).2

    The meaning "floor or part of a floor set up as an apartment" is from 1824. Directly from flat (adj.) come the senses "level ground near water" (late 13c.; late 12c. in place-names); "a flat surface, the flat part of anything" (a sword, etc., late 14c.), and "low shoe" (1834).ETD flat (n.).3

    flat-boat (n.)

    also flat-boat, 1650s, from flat (adj.) + boat (n.).ETD flat-boat (n.).2

    flat-car (n.)

    1839 in railroading, from flat (adj.) + car (n.).ETD flat-car (n.).2

    flatfish (n.)

    also flat-fish, 1710, from flat (adj.) + fish (n.). So called from the shape.ETD flatfish (n.).2

    flat-footed (adj.)

    c. 1600, "with flat feet;" see flat (adj.) + foot (n.). Meaning "unprepared" is from 1912, U.S. baseball slang, on notion of "not on one's toes;" earlier in U.S. colloquial adverbial use it meant "straightforwardly, downright, resolute" (1828), from notion of "standing firmly."ETD flat-footed (adj.).2

    flat-iron (n.)

    "iron for smoothing," 1810, from flat (adj.) + iron (n.). Applied to triangular or wedge-shaped buildings from 1862.ETD flat-iron (n.).2

    flatland (n.)

    1735, from flat (adj.) + land (n.). Edwin Abbott's popular book about an imaginary two-dimensional world was published in 1884.ETD flatland (n.).2

    flatly (adv.)

    early 15c. in a literal sense, from flat (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "in a plain manner" is from 1560s; sense of "in a dull manner" is from 1640s.ETD flatly (adv.).2

    flatline (v.)

    "give no indication of life, cease to function," by 1998, from the flat (adj.) line (n.) on an electrocardiogram or electroencephalogram when the patient is dead. Related: Flatlined; flatlining.ETD flatline (v.).2

    flatten (v.)

    late 14c., "to prostrate oneself," also "to fall flat," from flat (adj.) + -en (1). Transitive meaning "to make flat" is 1620s. Related: Flattened; flattening.ETD flatten (v.).2

    flatterer (n.)

    mid-14c., agent noun from flatter. An old contemptuous term for one was flattercap (1680s). Fem. form flatteress is attested from late 14c.-18c.ETD flatterer (n.).2

    flattering (adj.)

    late 14c., "pleasing to the imagination; dishonestly pleasing; having a false appearance of favorableness," present-participle adjective from flatter. Meaning "gratifying to self-esteem" is from 1757. Related: Flatteringly.ETD flattering (adj.).2

    flatter (v.)

    c. 1200, flateren, flaterien, "seek to please or gratify (someone) by undue praise, praise insincerely, beguile with pleasing words," from Old French flater "to deceive; caress, fondle; prostrate, throw, fling (to the ground)" (13c.), probably from a Germanic source, perhaps from Proto-Germanic *flata- "flat" (from PIE root *plat- "to spread").ETD flatter (v.).2

    "Of somewhat doubtful etymology" [OED]. Liberman calls it "one of many imitative verbs beginning with fl- and denoting unsteady or light, repeated movement" (for example flicker, flutter). If it is related to flat the notion could be either "caress with the flat of the hand, stroke, pet," or "throw oneself flat on the ground" (in fawning adoration). The -er ending is unusual for an English verb from French; perhaps it is by influence of shimmer, flicker, etc., or from flattery.ETD flatter (v.).3

    The meaning "give a pleasing but false impression to" is from late 14c. The sense of "show (something) to best advantage" is from 1580s, originally of portraits. Related: Flattered; flattering.ETD flatter (v.).4

    flattery (n.)

    early 14c., "dishonest praise, coaxing speech," from Old French flaterie "flattery, cajolery" (Modern French flatterie), from flater "to flatter" (see flatter).ETD flattery (n.).2

    flat-top (n.)

    1943, "aircraft carrier," U.S. Navy, from flat (adj.) + top (n.). As a style of haircut, from 1956.ETD flat-top (n.).2

    flatus (n.)

    1660s, "wind in the bowels," from Latin flatus "a blowing," from flare "to blow" (according to Watkins from PIE root *bhle- "to blow").ETD flatus (n.).2

    flatulent (adj.)

    "affected by digestive gas," 1590s, from French flatulent (16c.), from Modern Latin flatulentus, from Latin flatus "a blowing, breathing, snorting; a breaking wind," past participle of flare "to blow, puff," from PIE root *bhle- "to blow."ETD flatulent (adj.).2

    flatulence (n.)

    1711, from French flatulence, from flatulent (see flatulent). Flatulency is from 1650s.ETD flatulence (n.).2

    flatware (n.)

    1851, from flat (adj.), which was used from late 14c. of plates, dishes, saucers in a sense "shallow; smooth-surfaced" + ware (n.). Originally as distinguished from hollow ware; U.S. sense of "domestic cutlery" recorded by 1895.ETD flatware (n.).2

    flatworm (n.)

    name applied to animals of the planarian group, a tapeworm or other simple unsegmented, soft-bodied invertebrate, 1721; see flat (adj.) + worm (n.). So called for their shape.ETD flatworm (n.).2

    flaunt (v.)

    1560s, "to display oneself in flashy clothes," of unknown origin. Perhaps a variant of flout or vaunt. Perhaps from Scandinavian, where the nearest form seems to be Swedish dialectal flankt "loosely, flutteringly," from flakka "to waver" (related to flag (v.1)). It looks French, but it corresponds to no known French word. Transitive sense, "flourish (something), show off, make an ostentatious or brazen display of" is from 1827. Related: Flaunted; flaunting; Flauntingly.ETD flaunt (v.).2

    flaunt (n.)

    1620s, "act or habit of flaunting," from flaunt (v.).ETD flaunt (n.).2

    flautist (n.)

    1827, from Italian flautista, from flauto "flute" (from Late Latin flauta; see flute (n.)) + Greek-derived suffix -ista.ETD flautist (n.).2

    Flavian (adj.)

    1590s, pertaining to the three Roman emperors who reigned 69-96 C.E., the dynasty of (Flavius) Vespasian; see Flavius.ETD Flavian (adj.).2


    masc. proper name, from Latin Flavius, a Roman gens name, related to flavus "golden-yellow, blond" (see blue (adj.1)), and probably originally meaning "yellow-haired."ETD Flavius.2

    flavoring (n.)

    "thing that gives flavor," 1845, originally in cookery, verbal noun from flavor (v.). Middle English flauryng meant "perfume."ETD flavoring (n.).2

    flavor (v.)

    1540s, "communicate a distinctive quality to," from flavor (n.). Meaning "add a flavoring substance to" is from 1740. Earliest use was now-obsolete sense of "to smell" (early 15c.). Related: Flavored; flavoring.ETD flavor (v.).2

    flavor (n.)

    c. 1300, "a smell, odor" (usually a pleasing one), from Old French flaor "smell, odor; action of smelling, sense of smell," probably from Vulgar Latin flator "odor," literally "that which blows," in classical Latin "blower," from flare "to blow, puff," which according to Watkins is from PIE root *bhle- "to blow."ETD flavor (n.).2

    "Not common before Milton's time" [Century Dictionary], and it is not clear what exactly Milton meant when he used it. The same Vulgar Latin source produced Old Italian fiatore "a bad odor." Sense of "taste, savor" is 1690s, perhaps 1670s; originally "the element in taste which depends on the sense of smell." The -v- in the English word is euphonic or perhaps from influence of savor. Flavor-of-the-month is from 1946 (originally of ice cream).ETD flavor (n.).3

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