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float definition


This page has 54 definitions of float in English and Faroese. Float is a verb and noun. Examples of how to use float in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

English float definition


From Middle English floten, from Old English flotian (to float), from Proto-West Germanic *flotōn, from Proto-Germanic *flutōną (to float), from Proto-Indo-European *plewd-, *plew- (to float, swim, fly).

Cognate with Saterland Frisian flotje (to float), West Frisian flotsje (to float), Dutch vlotten (to float), Middle Low German vloten, vlotten (to float, swim), German flötzen, flößen (to float), Swedish flotta (to float), Icelandic fljóta, Old English flēotan (to float, swim), Ancient Greek πλέω (pléō), Lithuanian plaukti, Russian пла́вать (plávatʹ). Compare flow, fleet.



float (third-person singular simple present floats, present participle floating, simple past and past participle floated)

  1. (intransitive, of an object or substance) To be supported by a fluid of greater density (than the object).
    Helium balloons float in air, while air-filled balloons don't.
    1. To be supported by a liquid of greater density, such that part (of the object or substance) remains above the surface.
      The boat floated on the water.
      The oil floated on the vinegar.
  2. (transitive) To cause something to be suspended in a liquid of greater density.
    to float a boat
  3. (intransitive) To be capable of floating.
    That boat doesn't float.
    Oil floats on vinegar.
  4. (intransitive) To move in a particular direction with the liquid in which one is floating.
    I’d love to just float downstream.
  5. (intransitive) To drift or wander aimlessly.
    I’m not sure where they went... they're floating around here somewhere.
    Images from my childhood floated through my mind.
  6. (intransitive) To drift gently through the air.
    The balloon floated off into the distance.
  7. (intransitive) To move in a fluid manner.
    The dancer floated gracefully around the stage.
  8. (intransitive, figurative) To circulate.
    There's a rumour floating around the office that Jan is pregnant.
  9. (aviation) To remain airborne, without touching down, for an excessive length of time during landing, due to excessive airspeed during the landing flare.
  10. (intransitive, colloquial) (of an idea or scheme) To be viable.
    That's a daft idea... it'll never float.
  11. (transitive) To propose (an idea) for consideration.
    I floated the idea of free ice-cream on Fridays, but no one was interested.
  12. (intransitive) To automatically adjust a parameter as related parameters change.
  13. (intransitive, finance) (of currencies) To have an exchange value determined by the markets, as opposed to by central fiat.
    The yen floats against the dollar.
  14. (transitive, finance) To allow (the exchange value of a currency) to be determined by the markets.
    The government floated the pound in January.
    Increased pressure on Thailand’s currency, the baht, in 1997 led to a crisis that forced the government to float the currency.
  15. (transitive, colloquial) To extend a short-term loan to.
    Could you float me $50 until payday?
  16. (transitive, finance) To issue or sell shares in a company (or units in a trust) to members of the public, followed by listing on a stock exchange.
    • 1887, Harriet W. Daly, Digging, Squatting, and Pioneering Life in the Northern Territory of South Australia, page 210:
      "Peg out a claim wherever you like and we will float it," was the substance of many a code of instructions sent by unprincipled men in the mining world of the colonies to the gold prospectors in Port Darwin.
    • 2005 June 21, Dewi Cooke, The Age[1]:
      He [Mario Moretti Polegato] floated the company on the Milan Stock Exchange last December and sold 29 per cent of its shares, mostly to American investors.
    • 2007, Jonathan Reuvid, Floating Your Company: The Essential Guide to Going Public:
    • 2011, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI Yearbook 2011: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, footnote i, page 269,
      As a result of this reverse acquisition, Hurlingham changed its name to Manroy plc and floated shares on the Alternative Investment Market in London.
  17. (transitive) To spread plaster over (a surface), using the tool called a float.
    • 1932, The Bricklayer, Mason and Plasterer, volumes 35-37, page 35:
      This wire, nailed over the face of the old plaster will also reinforce any loose lath or plaster after the walls have set. Float the wall to the face of the lath first.
  18. (transitive) To use a float (rasp-like tool) upon.
    It is time to float this horse's teeth.
  19. (transitive) To transport by float (vehicular trailer).
  20. (poker) To perform a float.
  21. (computing, publishing, transitive) To cause (an element within a document) to float above or beside others.
    • 2010, Andy Harris, HTML, XHTML and CSS All-In-One For Dummies, page 290:
      To get the footer acting right, you need to float it and clear it on both margins.

Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.


A small plane on floats (buoyant devices).

float (plural floats)

  1. A buoyant device used to support something in water or another liquid.
    Attach the float and the weight to the fishing line, above the hook.
    • 1983, The Fisherman Who Laughed, page 40:
      'What you need are frogs,' said the veteran. 'Fish them at night. There's nothing like them on big cork floats.'
  2. A mass of timber or boards fastened together, and conveyed down a stream by the current; a raft.
  3. A float board.
  4. A tool similar to a rasp, used in various trades.
  5. A sort of trowel used for finishing concrete surfaces or smoothing plaster.
    When pouring a new driveway, you can use a two-by-four as a float.
  6. An elaborately decorated trailer or vehicle, intended for display in a parade or pageant.
    That float covered in roses is very pretty.
  7. A floating toy made of foam, used in swimming pools.
  8. (Britain) A small vehicle used for local deliveries, especially in the term milk float.
  9. (finance) Funds committed to be paid but not yet paid.
    Our bank does a nightly sweep of accounts, to adjust the float so we stay within our reserves limit.
  10. (finance, Australia, and other Commonwealth countries?) An offering of shares in a company (or units in a trust) to members of the public, normally followed by a listing on a stock exchange.
  11. (banking) The total amount of checks/cheques or other drafts written against a bank account but not yet cleared and charged against the account.
    No sir, your current float is not taken into account, when assets are legally garnished.
  12. (insurance) Premiums taken in but not yet paid out.
    We make a lot of interest from our nightly float.
  13. (programming) A floating-point number, especially one that has lower precision than a double.
    That routine should not have used an int; it should be a float.
    • 2011, Rubin H. Landau, A First Course in Scientific Computing, page 214:
      If you want to be a scientist or an engineer, learn to say “no” to singles and floats.
  14. A soft beverage with a scoop of ice-cream floating in it.
    I don't consider anything other than root-beer with vanilla ice-cream to be a "real" float.
  15. A small sum of money put in a cashier's till, or otherwise secured, at the start of business, to enable change to be made.
  16. (poker) A maneuver where a player calls on the flop or turn with a weak hand, with the intention of bluffing after a subsequent community card.
  17. (knitting) One of the loose ends of yarn on an unfinished work.
  18. (automotive) A car carrier or car transporter truck or truck-and-trailer combination.
  19. (transport) A lowboy trailer.
  20. (obsolete) The act of flowing; flux; flow.
  21. A polishing block used in marble working; a runner.
    • 1863 April 24, “Trade News”, in The Building News and Engineering Journal, volume 10, page 324:
      The machinery consists of two saws, a polishing table, a float for grinding marble, and a ripping saw for cutting slabs.
    • 1925, Australia. Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, Commonwealth Arbitration Reports, page 557:
      Float Machinist— One who squares up, faces, noses or chamfers on a float all marble, slate, or similar stones, and including terrazzo or similar compositions.
    • 1980, Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, page 215:
      Next , finishers rub a float — a small and smooth, rectangular piece of wood — over the entire surface, carefully avoiding edges and joints.
    • 2015, M. Clara Gonçalves, Fernanda Margarido, Materials for Construction and Civil Engineering, page 102:
      Floated: Obtained by successive passages with a wooden float on the coat's surface until it is flat and uniform
  22. (UK, dated) A coal cart.[1]
  23. A breakdancing move in which the body is held parallel to the floor while balancing on one or both hands.
  24. (computing) A visual style on a web page that causes the styled elements to float above or beside others.
    • 2004, Eric A. Meyer, More Eric Meyer on CSS, page 36:
      Because margin floats don't collapse together, the actual spacing between two floats sitting next to each other will be 6 pixels []
    • 2007, Michael Bowers, Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns, page 93:
      When a float cannot fit next to another float, it moves down below it. A float's position, size, padding, borders, and margins affect the position of adjacent floats and adjacent inline content.
  25. (biology) The gas-filled sac, bag, or body of a siphonophore; a pneumatophore.
  26. (publishing, digital typesetting) Any object (element) whose location in composition (page makeup, pagination) does not flow within body text but rather floats outside of it, usually anchored loosely (in buoy metaphor) to spots within it (citations, callouts): a figure (image), table, box, pull quote, ornament, or other floated element.


Derived terms



  1. ^ 1858, Peter Lund Simmonds, The Dictionary of Trade Products


Faroese float definition


See floti (fleet)



  1. fleet, navy