AskDefine | Define flounder

Dictionary Definition



1 flesh of any of various American and European flatfish
2 any of various European and non-European marine flatfish


1 walk with great difficulty; "He staggered along in the heavy snow" [syn: stagger]
2 behave awkwardly; have difficulties; "She is floundering in college"

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Any of various flatfish of the family Pleuronectidae or Bothidae.



  1. To flop around as a fish out of water.
  2. To make clumsy attempts to move or regain one's balance.
    Robert yanked Connie's leg vigorously, causing her to flounder and eventually fall.
  3. To act clumsily or confused; to struggle or be flustered.
    He gave a good speech, but floundered when audience members asked questions he could not answer well.


*1996, Janette Turner Hospital, Oyster, Virago Press, paperback edition, page 136
  • He is assessing directions, but he is not lost, not floundering.

Usage notes

Frequently confused with the verb founder. The difference is one of severity; floundering (struggling to maintain a position) comes before foundering, losing it completely by falling, sinking or failing.

Extensive Definition

Flounder (rarely: flukes) are flatfish that live in ocean waters ie., Northern Atlantic and waters along the east coast of the United States and Canada, and the Pacific Ocean, as well. The name "flounder" refers to several geographically and taxonomically distinct species. In Europe, the name flounder refers to Platichthys flesus, in the Western Atlantic there are the summer flounder Paralichthys dentatus, southern flounder Paralichthys lethostigma, and the winter flounder Pseudopleuronectes americanus, among other species. In Japan, the Japanese flounder Paralichthys olivaceus is common.
While flounders have both eyes situated on one side of the head, flukes are not born this way. Their life involves metamorphosis. During metamorphosis, one eye migrates to the other side of the body so that both eyes are situated on the upward-facing side of its body. After metamorphosis, flounder lie on one side on the ocean floor; either the left or right side might face upward depending on the species. Flounder sizes typically vary from five to fifteen inches, though they sometimes grow as large as three feet in length. Their breadth is about one-half of their length. Flounder are ambush predators and their feeding ground is the soft mud of the sea bottom, near bridge piles, docks, and other bottom encumbrances; they are sometimes found on bass grounds as well. Their diet consists mainly of fish spawn, crustaceans, polychaetes and small fish.

Surprise finding

Among other sea creatures, Flounders were found at the bottom of Marianas trench, the deepest location on the earth's crust. Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lt. Don Walsh reached a depth of 10,900 meters (35,810 feet) and were surprised to discover soles or flounder about 30 cm (1 ft) long, as well as shrimp there.


Hough's Neck in Quincy, Massachusetts was once considered the "Flounder capital of the world" due to the abundance of the species there. Pollution levels in Boston Harbor during the 1980s have depleted the population, but there have been signs of a comeback.


World stocks of large predatory fish and large ground fish such as sole and flounder were estimated in 2003 to be only about 10% of pre-industrial levels, largely due to overfishing. Most overfishing is credited to the commercial fisherman. Current estimates suggest that approximately 30 million flounder (not including sole) are alive in the world today. However, new research suggests that the flounder population could be as low as 15 million due to heavy over-fishing and industrial pollution risks along the Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
According to Seafood Watch, Atlantic flounder and sole are currently on the list of seafood that sustainability-minded consumers should avoid.

Flounder families

The fishes in the following families are called "flounders". All the families belong to the order Pleuronectiformes of flatfishes.


External links

flounder in Danish: Skrubbe
flounder in German: Flunder
flounder in Esperanto: Fleso
flounder in Persian: پهن‌ماهی
flounder in French: Flet
flounder in Ido: Flundro
flounder in Italian: Sogliola
flounder in Lithuanian: Plekšnės
flounder in Dutch: Bot (vis)
flounder in Japanese: ヒラメ
flounder in Norwegian: Skrubbe
flounder in Norwegian Nynorsk: Skrubbe
flounder in Polish: Flądra
flounder in Northern Sami: Finddar
flounder in Finnish: Kampela
flounder in Swedish: Skrubbskädda
flounder in Tagalog: Tatampal (isda)
flounder in Turkish: Bayağı pisi balığı

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

agonize over, alternate, back and fill, be all thumbs, be at sea, be hard put, be uncertain, beat about, blunder, blunder away, blunder into, blunder on, blunder upon, boggle, botch, bumble, bungle, butcher, capsize, careen, career, come a cropper, commit a gaffe, doubt, ebb and flow, fall, fall down, fall flat, fall headlong, fall over, fall prostrate, falter, faux pas, feel unsure, flounce, fluctuate, fumble, get a cropper, go through phases, grope, grovel, have trouble, heave, hobbyhorse, labor, labor under difficulties, list, lumber, lurch, make heavy weather, mar, miscue, muddle, muff, murder, oscillate, pendulate, pitch, pitch and plunge, pitch and toss, play havoc with, plunge, pound, puzzle over, question, rear, reel, ring the changes, rock, roll, scend, seesaw, seethe, shift, shuffle, slip, spoil, sprawl, spread-eagle, stagger, strive, struggle, stumble, sway, swing, take a fall, take a flop, take a header, take a pratfall, take a spill, teeter, teeter-totter, thrash about, tilt, toil, topple, topple down, topple over, toss, toss and tumble, toss and turn, totter, travail, trip, tumble, turn, turn turtle, vacillate, vary, volutation, walk on eggshells, wallop, wallow, waver, wax and wane, welter, wobble, wonder, wonder whether, yaw
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