"amorous trifling; giddy behavior," 1718, noun of action from flirt (v.) as though Latin.
Entries linking to flirtation
The main modern verbal sense of "play at courtship" (1777) probably developed from the noun (see flirt (n.)) but also could have grown naturally from the 16c. meaning "to flit inconstantly from object to object." To flirt a fan (1660s) was to snap it open or closed with a brisk jerk and was long considered part of the coquette's arsenal, which might have contributed to the sense shift. Or the word could have been influenced from French, where Old French fleureter meant "talk sweet nonsense," also "to touch a thing in passing," diminutive of fleur "flower" (n.) and metaphoric of bees skimming from flower to flower. French flirter "to flirt" is a 19c. borrowing from English.
1778, hybrid noun of action from starve. Famously (but not certainly) introduced in English by Henry Dundas during debate in the House of Commons in 1775 on American affairs. It earned him the nickname "Starvation Dundas," though sources disagree on whether this was given in objection to the harshness of his suggestion of starving the rebels into submission or in derision at the barbarous formation of the word. It is one of the earliest instances of -ation used with a native Germanic word (flirtation is earlier), based on a false analogy with vex/vexation, etc.
As to Lord Chatham, the victories, conquests, extension of our empire within these last five years, will annihilate his fame of course, and he may be replaced by Starvation Dundas, whose pious policy suggested that the devil of rebellion could be expelled only by fasting, though that never drove him out of Scotland. [Horace Walpole, letter to the Rev. William Mason, April 25, 1781]