I have always heard the expression flip through a book, but recently I came across the similar flick through a book.

The Oxford Dictionary of English gives the meaning of the phrasal verb flip through as look quickly through (a book, magazine, etc) and surprisingly the meaning of flick through is given as the same.

What is the difference between flip through and flick through? Are these two expressions really identical in meaning?

  • At a first glance, yes. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 17:35
  • 1
    To flip through means to casually glance through or over by moving the pages. You can also say flick through. For me, the difference is in the semantic trait: flipping does not tell you exactly how, though it involves the hand; whereas to flick through suggests, say, using a finger to perform the action. As in: he flicked the fly off the food. (You cannot flip the fly off the food). Flicking will involve an index or third finger. Also, in flicking,you might move the nail side of the middle or index finger against the pages. Flipping through is much more generic.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 17:40
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    I would suggest flip though is predominantly American; flick through mainly British. But they mean essentially the same thing.
    – WS2
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 23:12

1 Answer 1


As the comments indicated, "flicked through" appears to be common in British English, although they seem to use "flipped through" almost as often. Here's an Ngram with the "British English (2009)" corpus: British Ngram

On the other hand, American English doesn't use "flicked through" as much. Here's the graph using the "American English (2009)" corpus:

American Ngram

Beyond that, a writer may alternate between flicking and flipping through pages for some variety. Both words are onomatopoeic and they create slightly different sounds in my mind as I read them.

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