Etymology
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flicker (n.1)
1849, "wavering, unsteady light or flame;" 1857 as "a flickering," from flicker (v.).
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flicker (v.)
Old English flicorian "to flutter, flap quickly and lightly, move the wings," originally of birds. Onomatopoeic and suggestive of quick motion. Sense of "shine with a wavering light" is c. 1600, but not common till 19c. Related: Flickered; flickering.
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flicker (n.2)
type of North American woodpecker, 1808, American English, said to be echoic of bird's note, or from black spots on plumage of the underparts that seem to flicker as it flits from tree to tree.
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flick (n.)
mid-15c., "light blow or stroke," probably imitative of a light blow with a whip. Earliest recorded use is in phrase not worth a flykke "useless." Meaning "quick turn of the wrist" is from 1897 in sports. As slang for "film," it is first attested 1926, a back-formation from flicker (v.), from their flickering appearance.
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whiffle (v.)
"flicker or flutter as if blown by the wind," 1660s; see whiff. The noun meaning "something light or insignificant" (1670s) is preserved in whiffle-ball (1931).
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flutter (v.)
Old English floterian "to flutter (of birds), to fly before, flicker, float to and fro, be tossed by waves," frequentative of flotian "to float" (see float (v.)). Meaning "throw (someone) into confusion" is from 1660s. Related: Fluttered; fluttering. As a noun, "quick, irregular motion," from 1640s; meaning "state of excitement" is 1740s. Flutterpate "flighty person" is from 1894.
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blink (n.)
1590s, "a glance," of uncertain origin, perhaps from a continental Germanic language; see blink (v.). As is the case with the verb, there is a similar noun in Middle English, from c. 1300, that might represent a native form of the same root. Meaning "action of blinking" is from 1924. From the sense "a flicker, a spark," comes on the blink "nearly extinguished," hence "not functioning" (1901).
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flag (v.1)

1540s, "flap about loosely," probably a later variant of Middle English flakken, flacken "to flap, flutter" (late 14c.), which probably is from Old Norse flaka "to flicker, flutter, hang loose," itself perhaps imitative of something flapping lazily in the wind. The sense of "go limp, droop, become languid" is attested by 1610s. Related: Flagged; flagging.

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flatter (v.)
c. 1200, flateren, flaterien, "seek to please or gratify (someone) by undue praise, praise insincerely, beguile with pleasing words," from Old French flater "to deceive; caress, fondle; prostrate, throw, fling (to the ground)" (13c.), probably from a Germanic source, perhaps from Proto-Germanic *flata- "flat" (from PIE root *plat- "to spread").

"Of somewhat doubtful etymology" [OED]. Liberman calls it "one of many imitative verbs beginning with fl- and denoting unsteady or light, repeated movement" (for example flicker, flutter). If it is related to flat the notion could be either "caress with the flat of the hand, stroke, pet," or "throw oneself flat on the ground" (in fawning adoration). The -er ending is unusual for an English verb from French; perhaps it is by influence of shimmer, flicker, etc., or from flattery.

Meaning "give a pleasing but false impression to" is from late 14c. Sense of "show (something) to best advantage" is from 1580s, originally of portraits. Related: Flattered; flattering.
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