verb (used without object)
- to struggle with stumbling or plunging movements (usually followed by about, along, on, through, etc.): He saw the child floundering about in the water.
- to struggle clumsily or helplessly: He floundered helplessly on the first day of his new job.
noun, plural (especially collectively) floun·der, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) floun·ders.
- a European, marine flatfish, Platichthys flesus, used for food.
- any of numerous similar or closely related non-European flatfishes.
- any flatfish other than soles.
- to struggle; to move with difficulty, as in mud
- to behave awkwardly; make mistakes
- the act of floundering
noun plural -der or -ders
- Also called: fluke a European flatfish, Platichthys flesus having a greyish-brown body covered with prickly scales: family Pleuronectidae : an important food fish
- US and Canadian any flatfish of the families Bothidae (turbot, etc) and Pleuronectidae (plaice, halibut, sand dab, etc)
1590s, perhaps an alteration of founder (q.v.), influenced by Dutch flodderen “to flop about,” or native verbs in fl- expressing clumsy motion. Figurative use is from 1680s. Related: Floundered; floundering. As a noun derived from this sense, from 1867.
flatfish, c.1300, from Anglo-French floundre, from Old North French flondre, from Old Norse flydhra; related to Middle Low German vlundere, Danish flynder; ultimately cognate with Greek platys “flat, wide, broad” (see plaice (n.)).