flirt (v.) 1550s, originally "to turn up one's nose, sneer at," then "to rap or flick, as with the fingers" (1560s). The noun is first attested 1540s, from the verb, with the meaning "stroke of wit." It's possible that the original word was imitative, along the lines of FLIP (Cf. flip) (v.), but there seems to be some influence from FLIT (Cf. flit), such as in the flirt sense of "to move in short, quick flights," attested from 1580s.
Meanwhile flirt (n.) had come to mean "a pert young hussey" [Johnson] by 1560s, and Shakespeare has flirt-gill (i.e. Jill) "a woman of light or loose behavior," while flirtgig was a 17c. Yorkshire dialect word for "a giddy, flighty girl." All or any of these could have fed into the main modern verbal sense of "play at courtship" (1777), which also could have grown naturally from the earlier meaning "to flit inconstantly from object to object" (1570s), perhaps influenced by O.Fr. fleureter "talk sweet nonsense," also "to touch a thing in passing," dim. of fleur "flower" and metaphoric of bees skimming from flower to flower.
The noun meaning "person who flirts" is from 1732. The English word also is possibly related to E.Fris. flirt "a flick or light blow," and flirtje "a giddy girl." French flirter "to flirt" is a 19c. borrowing from English. Related: Flirted; flirting.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.


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  • flirt — [ flɶrt ] n. m. • 1866; flirtation 1817; angl. flirt, de to flirt → flirter 1 ♦ Relation amoureuse plus ou moins chaste, généralement dénuée de sentiments profonds. ⇒ 1. amourette, béguin. Avoir un flirt avec qqn. Un flirt de vacances. Son… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Flirt — [flø:ɐ̯t], der; s, s: a) das Flirten: ein harmloser Flirt. b) kurze, unverbindliche Liebesbeziehung: einen Flirt mit jmdm. haben/anfangen. Syn.: ↑ Abenteuer, ↑ Affäre, ↑ Liaison (bildungsspr. veraltend), ↑ …   Universal-Lexikon

  • flirt — FLIRT, flirturi, s.n. Conversaţie uşoară, cu aluzii de dragoste, între un bărbat şi o femeie. ♦ Legătură de dragoste lipsită de profunzime, nestatornică; aventură sentimentală. ♦ Persoană cu care cineva întreţine o astfel de legătură. – Din fr.… …   Dicționar Român

  • flirt — flirt·able; flirt·er; flirt·i·gig; flirt·ing·ly; flirt·ish; flirt; …   English syllables

  • flirt´er — flirt «flurt», verb, noun. –v.i. 1. to play at making love; make love without meaning it: »Every man likes to flirt with a pretty girl, and every pretty girl likes to be flirted with (George Eliot). 2. Figurative. to trifle; toy: »He flirted with …   Useful english dictionary

  • flirt — s.m.inv. ES ingl. {{wmetafile0}} 1. relazione sentimentale superficiale e di breve durata: avere un flirt con qcn., è stato solo un flirt Sinonimi: avventura, avventuretta. 2. estens., la persona con cui si ha una relazione di tale genere: l ho… …   Dizionario italiano

  • Flirt — Flirt, n. 1. A sudden jerk; a quick throw or cast; a darting motion; hence, a jeer. [1913 Webster] Several little flirts and vibrations. Addison. [1913 Webster] With many a flirt and flutter. E. A. Poe. [1913 Webster] 2. [Cf. LG. flirtje, G.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Flirt — Flirt, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Flirted}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Flirting}.] [Cf. AS. fleard trifle, folly, fleardian to trifle.] 1. To throw with a jerk or quick effort; to fling suddenly; as, they flirt water in each other s faces; he flirted a glove, or …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Flirt — Flirt, v. i. 1. To run and dart about; to act with giddiness, or from a desire to attract notice; especially, to play the coquette; to play at courtship; to coquet; as, they flirt with the young men. [1913 Webster] 2. To utter contemptuous… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Flirt — [fløːɐ̯t] der; s, s; 1 das Flirten <ein harmloser, unverbindlicher Flirt> 2 eine kurze, oberflächliche erotische Beziehung ≈ Liebelei <mit jemandem einen Flirt anfangen, haben> …   Langenscheidt Großwörterbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache