v. flut·tered, flut·ter·ing, flut·ters
1. To wave or flap rapidly in an irregular manner: curtains that fluttered in the breeze.
a. To fly by a quick light flapping of the wings.
b. To flap the wings without flying.
3. To move or fall in a manner suggestive of tremulous flight: "Her arms rose, fell, and fluttered with the rhythm of the song" (Evelyn Waugh).
4. To vibrate or beat rapidly or erratically: My heart fluttered wildly.
5. To move quickly in a nervous, restless, or excited fashion; flit.
To cause to flutter: "fluttering her bristly black lashes as swiftly as butterflies' wings" (Margaret Mitchell).
1. The act of fluttering.
2. A condition of nervous excitement or agitation: Everyone was in a flutter over the news that the director was resigning.
3. A commotion; a stir.
4. Medicine Abnormally rapid pulsation, especially of the atria or ventricles of the heart.
5. Rapid fluctuation in the pitch of a sound reproduction resulting from variations in the speed of the recording or reproducing equipment.
6. Chiefly British A small bet; a gamble: "If they like a flutter, Rick will get them better odds than the bookies" (John le Carré).
[Middle English floteren, from Old English floterian; see pleu- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.