Etymology
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flipper (n.)

limb used to swim with, 1822, agent noun from flip (v.). Sense of "rubber fin for underwater swimming" is from 1945. Slang meaning "the hand" dates from 1836. Related: Flippers.

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Definitions of flipper

flipper (n.)
a shoe for swimming; the paddle-like front is an aid in swimming (especially underwater);
Synonyms: fin
flipper (n.)
the flat broad limb of aquatic animals specialized for swimming;
From wordnet.princeton.edu