Is there an English word for the act of holding your shirt near the chest area and moving it up and down in order to provide some kind of ventilation on a hot humid day?

The sun was so strong he began to ____________, filling the nearby seats with the stench of his sweat.

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    @k1eran Oh, it's perfectly clear. You could edit it in if it's real concern. – lly Apr 18 '17 at 20:26
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    One might be said to be "flapping" their shirt, or something similar. – Hot Licks Apr 18 '17 at 20:53
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    Hahaha. Last night, I was on a flight to LA, the cabin was stuffy, and the very attractive woman in the next seat kept doing that as she talked to me, stretching out the already low-cut neckline of her shirt and letting it snap back. I texted my friend about it at the time, and could have used that word. I wanted to say to her, "Unless you are going to let me play with your toys, leave them in their wrapper." – Malvolio Apr 18 '17 at 21:03
  • he began to ruffle his shirt... – Drew Apr 19 '17 at 2:33
  • Malvolio, I'm getting a tad hot under the collar about this in-flight titillation? Sir Toby is on your case. – Peter Point Apr 19 '17 at 11:47

I've most often seen it called just flapping, as in:

Amer started flapping her blouse trying to create more cooling breezes. —R. Buck Kearney, Shooting a Texas Tease, 2001

I couldn't take the heat anymore, so I pushed myself into the cold air and started flapping my shirt. —C. A. Deal, The Guinness Hero, 2011

[A]t that moment Shelley was washed through with one of her hot flashes. She had to stop to tear her gloves off inside out, flap her T-shirt, lift her hair away from her blazing neck. —"Friendly Fire", The New Yorker, February 4, 2008

Before she turned the car off, she jacked the AC to max and flapped her shirt to try to cool down. —Laura Trentham, Till I kissed you, 2016

And so on. If grabbing the shirt at the neck rather than the chest, it may be called flapping the (shirt) collar:

His partner, a skinny man with a long nose and sunken eyes, flapped his shirt collar to cool his sweaty chest. —Peter Blauner, Slow Motion Riot, 2011

This isn't a special term for the action, just a regular application of the verb flap. From Oxford Dictionaries:

1.2 Move (something) up and down or to and fro.
‘he flapped the envelope in front of my face’

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As far as I know, there's no common name for the very common action being described. You'd just need to describe it with several words or a sentence like you just did. If you really wanted a single word, you'd have to focus on part of the action and assume they'd get the rest from context or description:


in its sense of drying something by exposure to the open air

He tried to cool off by using his hand to air his shirt.



in its sense of making something tent-shaped

She tented her shirt over and over, vainly hoping the action would help cool her off.


Neither of those is in common use, though.

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