Word of the Day | Flippant

Flippant did something of a flip-flop shortly after it appears in English in the late 16th century. The word is probably created from the verb flip, which in turn may have originated as an imitation of the sound of something flipping. The earliest senses of the adjective were “nimble” and “limber.” One can be flippant not only on one’s feet, but also in speech — that is, someone flippant might have a capacity for easy, flowing speech. Such flippancy was considered a good thing at first. But people who speak freely and easily can sometimes seem too talkative, and even impertinent. By the end of the 18th century, the positive sense of flippant had slipped from use, and the “disrespectful” sense had taken its place.

Flippant did something of a flip-flop.

in turn

be created from = originate

an imitation of sth.

the earliest sense

nimble & limber

easy, flowing speech

talkative, impertinent

slip from use

take its place

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