Definition of flirt in English:

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Pronunciation: /fləːt/


1 [no object] Behave as though sexually attracted to someone, but playfully rather than with serious intentions: she began to tease him, flirting with other men in front of him
More example sentences
  • So what's the harm if I flirt with someone and they don't flirt back?
  • He is flirting with you - clumsily enough for you to write to me to ask what the hell he means, but flirting nonetheless.
  • We walk up front and not only is he doing some serious flirting with this beautiful girl, but she is flirting back with him.
trifle with, toy with, tease, lead on, philander with, dally with, make romantic advances to, court, woo, vamp
informal pull, chat up, make eyes at, make sheep's eyes at, give the come-on to, come on to, be all over
1.1 (flirt with) Experiment with or show a superficial interest in (an idea, activity, or movement) without committing oneself to it seriously: a painter who had flirted briefly with Cubism
More example sentences
  • Briefly flirting with the idea of managing a Guatemalan mine, he prefers death to exile, and walks in front of an express train.
  • Other states will watch with interest at the impact in NSW and flirt with the idea of following suit.
  • The best-case scenario is when inflation is neither so high as to impede economic efficiency and growth nor so low that the nominal short-term interest rate routinely flirts with zero.
dabble in, toy with, trifle with, amuse oneself with, play with, entertain the idea/possibility of, consider, give thought to, potter about/around/round with, tinker with, dip into, scratch the surface of
1.2 (flirt with) Deliberately expose oneself to (danger or difficulty): the need of some individuals to flirt with death
More example sentences
  • These acts, in which an individual may flirt with death, offer a sense of excitement.
  • The second builds up to the climatic and dramatic end where Martin flirts with danger and then realises that he's placed everything he holds dear on the line.
  • Perhaps one of the dangers that the show flirts with is that an emphasis on visual rhyming may cause divergent works to look perfectly complacent.
dice with, court, risk, not be afraid of, treat frivolously, make light of
2 [with object] (Of a bird) wave or open and shut (its wings or tail) with a quick flicking motion: a moorhen stepped out of the reeds, flirting its white tail
More example sentences
  • The broad palms of his tail are flirted high in the air; then smiting the surface, the thunderous concussion resounds for miles.
  • Kymenos shrugged and turned back to grooming Sykeen, though in fact he got in only a few strokes with the brush before Sykeen danced sideways away from him, flirting his tail.
  • She kept expecting the elf-horse to object, but it only flirted its tail and stamped a time or two when Shara came too close.
2.1 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Move quickly to and fro with a fluttering motion: the lark was flirting around the site
More example sentences
  • Shrill and soft old Autumnal winds blow and we are tucked below the shallow soil where seeds spring up and wither quickly flirting madly.
  • Blackbirds flirt and do their mating flutter at the curb on Main Street.


A person who habitually flirts: Jim was an outrageous flirt
More example sentences
  • It wasn't that she was a flirt, because she wasn't one, it was just that none of them ever seemed right for her.
  • For the record, the Australians were voted the best kissers, best lovers and best flirts.
  • This is what separates a good flirt from a great flirt: nothing will bond you more effectively than mirroring someone's behaviour.


Mid 16th century: apparently symbolic, the elements fl- and -irt both suggesting sudden movement; compare with flick and spurt. The original verb senses were 'give someone a sharp blow' and 'sneer at'; the earliest noun senses were 'joke, jibe' and 'flighty girl' (defined by Dr Johnson as 'a pert young hussey'), with a notion originally of cheeky behaviour, later of playfully amorous behaviour.

  • Like words such as biff (mid 19th century), bounce (early 16th century), flick [ see fillip], and spurt (late 16th century), and many others often sharing the same sounds, flirt apparently arose because it somehow ‘sounded right’ to convey the idea it represented. In the case of flirt the elements fl- and -irt probably suggest sudden movement—the original verb senses were ‘to give someone a sharp blow’, ‘to move or propel suddenly’, and ‘to sneer at’. As a noun it first meant ‘joke, gibe’, and ‘flighty girl’, with a notion originally of cheekiness rather than of playfully amorous behaviour.

Words that rhyme with flirt

advert, alert, animadvert, assert, avert, Bert, blurt, Burt, cert, chert, concert, controvert, convert, curt, desert, dessert, dirt, divert, exert, girt, hurt, inert, insert, introvert, Kurt, malapert, overt, pert, quirt, shirt, skirt, spirt, spurt, squirt, Sturt, subvert, vert, wort, yurt

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