This word, first used in the 15th Century, means to derisively laugh or grimace. It derived from the Middle English “flerven”, but that word is Scandinavian, akin to the Norwegian word “flire”, which means “to giggle”. The noun was first used in William Shakespeare’s Othello, by the character Iago: “And mark the fleers, the gibes, and notable scorns / That dwell in every region of his face.”
Word Archaeology: fleer
March 22, 2021
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