v. float·ed, float·ing, floats
a. To remain suspended within or on the surface of a fluid without sinking.
b. To be suspended in or move through space as if supported by a liquid.
2. To move from place to place, especially at random.
3. To move easily or lightly: "Miss Golightly ... floated round in their arms light as a scarf" (Truman Capote).
4. Economics To rise or fall freely in response to the market: allowed the dollar to float; a loan whose interest rate floats with the prime rate.
1. To cause to remain suspended without sinking or falling.
a. To put into the water; launch: float a ship; float a navy.
b. To start or establish (a business enterprise, for example).
3. To flood (land), as for irrigation.
4. Economics To allow (the exchange value of a currency, for example) to rise or fall freely in response to the market: Inflation forced the government to float the currency.
5. To offer for consideration; suggest: floated my idea to the committee.
6. To release (a security) for sale.
7. To arrange for (a loan).
8. To make the surface of (plaster, for example) level or smooth.
9. Computers To convert (data) from fixed-point notation to floating-point notation.
1. Something that floats, as:
a. A raft.
b. A buoy.
c. A life preserver.
d. A buoyant object, such as a piece of cork or a plastic ball, used to hold a net or part of a fishing line afloat.
e. A landing platform attached to a wharf and floating on the water.
f. A floating ball attached to a lever to regulate the water level in a tank.
2. Biology An air-filled sac or structure that aids in the flotation of an aquatic organism. Also called air bladder, air vesicle.
3. A decorated exhibit or scene mounted on a mobile platform and pulled or driven in a parade.
4. The number of shares of a security that are publicly owned and traded.
a. A sum of money representing checks that are outstanding.
b. The time between the issuing or depositing of a check and the debiting of the issuer's account.
c. The time during which a credit card purchase can be repaid without interest.
a. A tool for smoothing the surface of wet plaster or concrete.
b. A file with sharp ridges used for cutting or smoothing wood.
7. A soft drink with ice cream floating in it.
8. Excess time allowed for a task in a project schedule.
[Middle English floten, from Old English flotian; see pleu- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.