mid-14c., flappe "a blow, slap, buffet," probably imitative of the sound of striking. Sense of "device for slapping or striking" is from early 15c. Meaning "something that hangs down" is first recorded 1520s, probably from flap (v.). Sense of "motion or noise like a bird's wing" is 1774; meaning "disturbance, noisy tumult" is 1916, British slang.
early 14c., "dash about, shake, beat (the wings);" later "strike, hit" (mid-14c.); probably ultimately imitative. Meaning "to swing about loosely" is from 1520s. Related: Flapped; flapping.