SAT Vocab: flounder

SAT vocab: What does “flounder” mean?


The noun: A type of food fish that is relatively flat.

The verb: To move clumsily, ineffectively, and irregularly (Ex: to flounder around in the dark after falling). To move or act in a clumsy, ineffective, or confused way (Ex: to flounder during a job interview).

Part of Speech: noun and verb

Pronunciations: FLOUN-der
or, if you prefer the IPA: /’flaʊn.dər/

Example: Despite her great desire to learn Cantonese and Portuguese, Claire discovered that she floundered in those classes, especially when they were taught in the respective language, and not in English, her native tongue.

Teacher Talk (Erin, in this case): When we think of the verb “flounder”, we might first think of the flatfish that is often served as food; I’ve seen it in many Japanese and Chinese restaurants. And we also often think of the fish out of water, flopping around madly, although the verb form of the word “flounder” may not actually be related to the fish “flounder”, believe it or not. So, to flounder is to struggle to stay in control, to reach a goal, etc. And even if the etymology of the verb is not related to the fish, the image of a fish flopping around could serve as an excellent mnemonic.

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