September 09, 2011
- flimflam (verb)
- What does it mean?
- : to subject to deception, fraud, or deceptive nonsense
- How do you use it?
- Legend has it that the residents of Hamelin tried to flimflam the Pied Piper out of his payment for piping the rats out of their town.
- Are you a word wiz?
"Flimflam" sounds kind of old-fashioned. Just how old do you think the verb "flimflam" is?You weren't flimflammed if you picked answer C. The verb "flimflam" first started appearing in English texts about 300 years ago. It developed from the older noun "flimflam," which originally meant "a piece of idle talk" or "nonsense." That noun, which has been part of our language since the 1500s, was also used to mean "a deception or trick," and the verb we are featuring today developed from that second sense of the word. The noun "flimflam" probably comes from a Scandinavian word. It looks a lot like the medieval Norse word "flim," which means "mockery," but questions still remain about the precise nature of the link between the two.