\ˈfler \

Definition of flare 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a fire or blaze of light used especially to signal, illuminate, or attract attention also : a device or composition used to produce such a flare The airport set flares to guide the landing plane at night.

2 : an unsteady glaring light

b : solar flare also : a sudden increase and decrease in the brightness of a star often amounting to a difference of several magnitudes (see magnitude sense 3)

3a : a sudden outburst (as of excitement or anger) a flare of tempers in the courtroom

b : flare-up sense 3 a flare of disease

4a : a spreading outward also : a place or part that spreads

b : an area of skin flush a flare of reddened skin

5 : light resulting from reflection (as between lens surfaces) or an effect of this light (such as a fogged or dense area in a photographic negative)

6a : a short pass in football thrown to a back who is running toward the sideline

b : a weakly hit fly ball in baseball a flare into short right field

7 flares plural : pants that flare toward the bottom


flared; flaring

Definition of flare (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to burn with an unsteady flame

b : to stream in the wind

2a : to shine with a sudden light a match flares in the darkness

b(1) : to become suddenly excited or angry usually used with up

(2) : to break out or intensify usually suddenly or violently often used with up

c : to express strong emotion (such as anger)

3 : to open or spread outward the pants flare at the bottom

transitive verb

1 : to display conspicuously flaring her scarf to attract attention

2 : to cause to flare the breeze flares the candle

3 : to signal with a flare or by flaring

4 : to burn (a jet of waste gas) in the open air

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Examples of flare in a Sentence


the sudden flare of the match When the crew saw flares, they knew the other ship was in trouble.


pants that flare at the bottom The bull flared its nostrils.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Gas flares burn from pipes aboard an offshore oil platform in the Persian Gulf's Salman Oil Field, operated by the National Iranian Offshore Oil Co., on Jan. 5. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Oil Prices Mixed as Iran Sanctions Take Effect," 5 Nov. 2018 Meghan's gown was a matte silk cady, with an open bateau neckline, three-quarter length sleeves, and a fit-to-flare silhouette. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Princess Eugenie's Wedding Dress Compared to Meghan Markle's–and Kate Middleton's," 12 Oct. 2018 Last night in New York City, fresh from Vogue’s Forces of Fashion conference, Kendall Jenner stepped out in leather lace-up flares from Unravel, those ’90s square-toe boots, and a black flame print silk button up that featured skulls ablaze. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Kendall Jenner Wears a Red Hot Flame Shirt," 12 Oct. 2018 Season one adopted a darker tone than TOS and irritated the more hardcore Star Trek fans, but season 2 looks like a return to its roots, with a fair sprinkling of humor to lighten things up—plus lots and lots of dramatic lens flares. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New trailer for Star Trek: Discovery S2 gives us a young bearded Spock," 9 Oct. 2018 The reported explosive that was found in an Oak Creek residence turned out to be an old railroad flare. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The live explosive found at an Oak Creek home was a railroad flare," 11 June 2018 He was injured from flare blasts, forcing doctors to insert metal plates into his right arm and his head. Michael Katz, idahostatesman, "He has 2 Purple Hearts but couldn't afford home repairs. Then help arrived - for free.," 10 June 2018 Officials say two protesters were arrested and two federal officers suffered minor injuries in a flare up at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Portland. Fox News, "Tensions flare at Oregon immigration protest; officers hurt," 10 July 2018 The singer added a little holiday flare by topping off her outfit with a bright red jacket and patriotic scrunchies in her hair, which was tied back into two high buns. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, "Selena Gomez Hangs with 'Brudder' David Henrie During 'Family' Trip to Disneyland," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The issue of leaks flares up in every administration and has drawn a good deal of scrutiny recently, partly because of President Trump’s depiction of many news organizations as being in league with his political opponents. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "Treasury Official Charged with Leaking Sensitive Bank Information to Reporter," 17 Oct. 2018 The result is a fever that seems to clear up, then flares up again as the immune system tries to respond to a new set of antigens. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Ancient DNA reveals the secrets of a devastating European disease," 26 Sep. 2018 Officials were surveying the damage Monday after the fire flared up in windy, dry weather and swept through a rural subdivision of about 125 homes on Sunday. Fox News, "Wyoming wildfire near Grand Teton burns more buildings," 24 Sep. 2018 Whatever the outcome of the nomination, the issue will likely flare during the midterm elections. Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Supreme Court: Ron Johnson lauds Brett Kavanugh while Tammy Baldwin expresses reservations," 10 July 2018 The latest issue flared Tuesday, when police commissioner Darryl De Sousa, facing charges of not paying his taxes, resigned. Washington Post, "Baltimore top cop’s implosion exposes flawed vetting," 17 May 2018 But the 30-year-old lasted only 66 minutes of the clash with Roma before he was hauled off due to concerns about the issue flaring up again. SI.com, "Sergio Busquets 'Requested' Substitution in Roma Win As Toe Injury Flares Up Again," 5 Apr. 2018 However, even before the issue with the loose bodies flared up, Eovaldi faced long odds to become a regular starter after a second elbow-reconstruction procedure. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "Tampa Bay Rays hope modest investment in Nathan Eovaldi pays big," 28 Mar. 2018 The issue flared up last week after a Labour lawmaker asked for clarification on a 2012 Facebook comment written by Corbyn questioning a decision by local officials to remove a London street mural. NBC News, "British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn faces anti-Semitism accusations," 27 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flare.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of flare


1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1616, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for flare


origin unknown


see flare entry 1

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Statistics for flare

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for flare

The first known use of flare was in 1580

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More Definitions for flare



English Language Learners Definition of flare

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a light that shines brightly and briefly

: a very bright light that is used to give a signal, to light up something, or to attract attention; also : a device that produces such a light

: a sudden expression of anger



English Language Learners Definition of flare (Entry 2 of 2)

: to shine or burn suddenly and briefly

: to become suddenly excited, angry, or active

: to open or spread outward


\ˈfler \
flared; flaring

Kids Definition of flare

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to burn with an unsteady flame … they watched the fire … flaring through the fog …— Charles Dickens, The Cricket on the Hearth

2 : to shine or burn suddenly or briefly A match flared in the darkness.

3 : to become angry or active She flared up at the remarks. His asthma has flared up.

4 : to spread outward Her nostrils flared.



Kids Definition of flare (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a sudden blaze of light the flare of a match

2 : a blaze of light used to signal, light up something, or attract attention

3 : a device or material used to produce a flare The emergency kit included flares.

4 : a sudden outburst She displayed a flare of anger.

5 : a spreading outward : a part that spreads outward the flare of a skirt

\ˈfla(ə)r, ˈfle(ə)r \
flared; flaring

Medical Definition of flare 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: to break out or intensify rapidly : become suddenly worse or more painful often used with up your gallstones flare up— W. A. Nolen



Medical Definition of flare (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : flare-up Without effective urate lowering, many such patients progress to severe chronic gout characterized by frequent arthritic flares— John S. Sundy et al., The Journal of the American Medical Association, 17 Aug. 2011

2 : an area of skin flush resulting from and spreading out from a local center of vascular dilation and hyperemia urticarial flare

3 : a cloudy or smoky appearance of the fluid of the anterior chamber of the eye that is seen when a beam of light (as from a slit lamp) is passed through it and that is caused by the presence of floating protein material in the fluid which is a symptom of inflammation Flare means that we can actually see the beam of light from the slit lamp traveling through the aqueous humor. This is similar to being able to see the beam of light coming from a movie projector in a dusty room.— Jay B. Lavine, The Eye Care Sourcebook, 2001

called also aqueous flare

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Comments on flare

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full of whispering sounds

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