I need a verb that describe the phenomenon that occurs when a wing (like those of birds, or, for that matter, insects) is caught in a strong transverse breeze. I was going to use the word flutter, but it seems to me that saying "its wings fluttered" implies that the wings in question were being controlled (at least to a certain extent) by the being to which they are attached. Is there a word (or a short phrase if necessary, but a single word would be ideal) that means the same as flutter but without the mentioned connotation of control?
closed as unclear what you're asking by Drew, Ellie Kesselman, Dan Bron, ScotM, Centaurus May 13 '15 at 0:00
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Maybe instead of attaching the verb to the wings, you can attach it to the breeze instead?
"The breeze whiffled the bird's feathers."
Merriam's definition: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whiffle
or if you really wanted to attach the verb to the wing, another suggestion would be quiver. While it is not directly synonymous to "flutter", it has the same action, which is the light shaking of the feathers. But if you used this it would probably appear that it was due to the cold.
"Its wings quivered."
Merriam's definition of quiver: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quiver
Flailed. Flail. wave or swing or cause to wave or swing wildly. "his arms were flailing helplessly"
How about flitter?
flitter - verb - Move quickly in an apparently random or purposeless manner.
flitter - noun - A fluttering movement.