Etymology
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flotilla (n.)
"a small fleet," 1711, from Spanish flotilla, diminutive of flota "a fleet," from flotar "to float," which is said to be from Old French floter "to float, set afloat," which is from a word in Frankish or some other Germanic language (such as Old Norse floti "raft, fleet"), from PIE *plud-, extended form of root *pleu- "to flow." Sometimes also "a fleet of small ships."
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raft (v.)

"transport or float on a raft," 1680s, from raft (n.1). Related: Rafted; rafting.

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fleeting (adj.)
early 13c., "fickle, shifting, unstable," from Old English fleotende "floating, drifting," later "flying, moving swiftly," from present participle of fleotan "to float, drift, flow" (see fleet (v.)). Meaning "existing only briefly" is from 1560s. Related: Fleetingly.
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drift (v.)

late 16c., "to float or be driven along by a current," from drift (n.). Transitive sense of "to drive in heaps" is from 1610s. Figurative sense of "be passive and listless" is from 1822. Related: Drifted; drifting. To drift apart "gradually lose mutual affection" is by 1859.

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vogue (n.)

1570s, the vogue, "height of popularity or accepted fashion," from French vogue "fashion, success;" also "drift, swaying motion (of a boat)" literally "a rowing," from Old French voguer "to row, sway, set sail" (15c.), probably from a Germanic source. Compare Old High German wagon "to float, fluctuate," literally "to balance oneself;" German Woge "wave, billow," wogen "fluctuate, float" (from PIE root *wegh- "to go, move").

Perhaps the notion is of being "borne along on the waves of fashion." Italian voga "a rowing," Spanish boga "rowing," but colloquially "fashion, reputation" also probably are from the same Germanic source. Phrase in vogue "having a prominent place in popular fashion" first recorded 1643. The fashion magazine began publication in 1892.

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seaweed (n.)

"plant or plants growing in the sea," 1570s, from sea + weed (n.). Middle English had sechaf ("sea-chaff"), slauk, flet-wort  (Old English fleotwyrt: "float-wort"). Another Old English word for it was sæ war.

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balsa (n.)
1852 as the name of a tropical South American tree noted for its soft, light-weight wood, apparently from Spanish balsa "float," originally the name of rafts used on the Pacific coast of Latin America (attested in English in this sense from 1777, also balza), perhaps from a native word of Peru. Related: Balsa-wood (1913).
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hove (v.1)
mid-13c., of birds, "remain suspended in air;" also generally, "to float, rise to the surface;" from c. 1300 as "wait in readiness or expectation;" late 14c. as "loom protectively over," also figurative, of unknown origin. In Middle English often of ships at anchor, standing off a coast. Common 13c.-16c., then superseded by its derivative, hover (v.)).
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sail (v.)

Old English segilan "travel on water in a ship by the action of wind upon sails; equip with a sail," from the same Germanic source as sail (n.); cognate with Old Norse sigla, Middle Dutch seghelen, Dutch zeilen, Middle Low German segelen, German segeln. Later extended to travel over water by steam power or other mechanical agency. The meaning "to set out on a sea voyage, leave port" is from c. 1200. Extended sense of "float through the air; move forward impressively" is by late 14c., as is the sense of "sail over or upon." Related: Sailed; sailing.

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buoy (n.)
"float fixed in a place to indicate the position of objects underwater or to mark a channel," late 13c., boie, probably from Old French buie or Middle Dutch boeye, both of which likely are from Proto-Germanic *baukna- "beacon, signal" (see beacon). OED and Century Dictionary, however, suggest it is from Middle Dutch boeie or Old French boie "fetter, chain" (see boy), "because of its being fettered to a spot."
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