Thank goodness for the Kindle dictionary feature! It’s one of my favorite parts about reading on the Kindle. (Even if it wasn’t overly useful in Return of the Native – “not currently in use” and all…)
I wasn’t overly hopeful when looking up Madame Merle’s gesture in Chapter 20 – a “fillip” of the thumb and third finger, but Kindle came through with “a movement made by bending the last joint of a finger against the thumb and suddenly releasing it; a flick of the finger,” or “a slight smart stroke or tap given in such a way,” or “to propel a small object with a flick of the finger.”
In Serena’s case, she seems to be using it as a sort of dismissive gesture, an “oh well” indicator.
There you have it. Although it doesn’t seem very “ladylike,” perhaps the next time you need to dismiss something emphatically, flick peas at your offspring or just tap someone on the nose to get their attention, use a fillip!