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Definition floating debris — especially from a shipwreck


anything or anyone treated as of low value such as discarded items or homeless people
  • The recovery teams retrieve bodies along with each piece of flotsam that might provide a clue.
flotsam = floating debris
  • Too much flotsam finds its way to my inbox.
  • ...all the flotsam and jetsam of wild spirits from the madly complicated modern world.
    Jack London  --  The Night-Born
  • But all these suggestions were but flotsam and jetsam cast to the surface by a more profound disturbance...
    Virginia Woolf  --  Night and Day
  • Next, he gathered dry grasses and tiny twigs from the high-water flotsam.
    Jack London  --  To Build a Fire
  • flotsam = floating debris
  • ...the flotsam and jetsam that life washed up on our shores!
    Athol Fugard  --  Master Harold...and the Boys
  • flotsam = things treated as of low value (originally floating debris — especially wreckage of a ship)
  • It was the type of flotsam and jetsam (a pair of words I had just learned from the dictionary) that washes up on your coffee table, lies around for a week or so, and then makes way for whatever comes in on the next tide.
    Barbara Kingsolver  --  The Bean Trees
  • flotsam = things of low value (originally floating debris — especially wreckage of a ship)
  • Just some of the weird flotsam on a riverbank, but we keep everything in a search like that.
    Gillian Flynn  --  Gone Girl
  • The city was leveled: rubble and dust for miles, the Thames choked with flotsam.
    Rick Riordan  --  The Red Pyramid
  • You are welcome to it; it came from the flotsam of Isengard.
    J.R.R. Tolkien  --  The Return of the King
  • Maybe a toe here, a nostril there, or a mustache, floating like a little curl of seaweed among the other flotsam.
    Margaret Atwood  --  Cat's Eye
  • Infinite waters cohabit with flotsam on this side of the breakwater and the luxury liners and Maldive fishing vessels steam out to erase calm sea.
    Michael Ondaatje  --  Running in the Family
  • In a little while the chaplain stepped back, and the beige crescent of human forms began to break up sluggishly, like flotsam.
    Joseph Heller  --  Catch-22
  • There was a thick stripe of seaweed, with crab shells and flotsam embedded, and she threaded her fingers through it.
    Dave Eggers  --  The Circle
  • First the traffic struck me like a tidal wave and carried me along, a bit of shiny flotsam bounded in front by a gasoline truck half a block long.
    John Steinbeck  --  Travels with Charley
  • Chapter 9 Flotsam and Jetsam Gandalf and the King's company rode away, turning eastward to make the circuit of the ruined walls of Isengard.
    J.R.R. Tolkien  --  The Two Towers
  • Tree bark, he would have guessed, or sewer-grate flotsam.
    Jerry Spinelli  --  Wringer
  • Only rain, marauding waves of black ocean and the flotsam of tragedy.
    Yann Martel  --  Life of Pi
  • Much of this "new knowledge" is actually the flotsam of old thought, some of whose roots go back to Hellenism.
    Jostein Gaarder  --  Sophie's World
  • Today's Taxila contained the architectural flotsam of the ancient world.
    Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin  --  Three Cups of Tea

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