Printable Version
Pronunciation: flæwns Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, Verb

Meaning: 1. To move with an exaggerated bouncy or jerky motion, to sweep quickly somewhere with attitude. 2. An ornamental gathered ruffle sewn to a garment by its upper edge that bounces when you walk or when disturbed by wind.

Notes: This may be two words; many dictionaries represent it as two: a noun and a separate verb. However, we are treating it as a single word with literal and figurative usages. I know of only one derivational relative, flouncy "having flounces", which has a comparative flouncier, and superlative form, flounciest.

In Play: A flouncy blouseA flounce is something that jiggles when you walk or with the slightest movement of air when it is on something other than clothes: "Maude Lynn Dresser loves flounces: the curtains in all the rooms of her house sport them, and her wardrobe features them spectacularly." Exactly the same movement is implied by the verb: "Miss Rivers flounced away from Matt Tremoni as soon as he brought up the topic of marriage."

Word History: The nominal and verbal meanings of this word are too close to be coincidental. Most dictionaries portray the noun coming from Middle English frounce, borrowed from French fronce "crease, fold". This word can be traced back to the same source that provided English shrink. The verb is then claimed to be borrowed from either dialectal Swedish flunsa "to splash" or Norwegian flunsa "to work hurriedly". However, the first written record of these words came 200 years after the appearance of flounce in print. Although blends were historically rare in English, I would suggest this is a blend of flap + bounce. This would explain the similarity of the motion with the decorative trim on apparel, which also flaps and bounces when a woman wearing it moves about.

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!