Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


The flapper dashed into her letter with a sort of incoherent squeal.

A tempting street, a flirting street, almost a flapper street.

In less than fifty hours that case will be as empty as a flapper's skull.

Great struggle for supremacy apparently with flapper sister.

She was at that time a mere kid of twelve, just beginning to be a flapper.

In English there is flapper, in French there is ingnue, and in German there is backfisch.

The wife isn't all there, she does her hair like a flapper and gushes extremely.

If you want to compete with the flappers, you've got to play by the flapper rules.

The flapper is released from the strangle hold that is throttling the rest of us.

By Jove, Phyllis, there's one now, the flapper I saw in the dining-room lately.


"forward young woman," 1921 slang, from flap (v.), but the exact connection is disputed. Perhaps from flapper "young wild-duck or partridge" (1747), with reference to flapping wings while learning to fly, of which many late 19c. examples are listed in Wright's "English Dialect Dictionary" (1900), including one that defines it as "A young partridge unable to fly. Applied in joke to a girl of the bread-and-butter age."

But other suggested sources are late 19c. northern English dialectal use for "teen-age girl" (on notion of one with the hair not yet put up), or an earlier meaning "prostitute" (1889), which is perhaps from dialectal flap "young woman of loose character" (1610s). Any or all of these might have converged in the 1920s sense. Wright also has flappy, of persons, "wild, unsteady, flighty," with the note that it was also "Applied to a person's character, as 'a flappy lass,'" and further on he lists flappy sket (n.) "an immoral woman."

In Britain the word took on political tones in reference to the debate over voting rights.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.