\ ˈfler How to pronounce flare (audio) \

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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Synonyms for flare

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of flare in a Sentence

Noun the sudden flare of the match When the crew saw flares, they knew the other ship was in trouble. Verb pants that flare at the bottom The bull flared its nostrils.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The blazes have subsided from their peak in December and January, but summer in Australia lasts until the end of February and could see another flare-up. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Wildfires Spared Many Australian Winemakers, but the Smoke Might Not," 4 Feb. 2020 But that outcome could be threatened by various threats, including a spreading coronavirus in China to a flare-up in trade tensions between the U.S. and China. CBS News, "U.S. economic growth flat in final three months of 2019," 30 Jan. 2020 This outbreak is caused by a virus — currently known as 2019-nCoV — that belongs to the same family as the viruses that caused the SARS outbreak and which cause sporadic flare-ups of cases of MERS on the Arabian Peninsula. Helen Branswell, STAT, "Containing new coronavirus may not be feasible, experts say, as they warn of possible sustained global spread," 26 Jan. 2020 But flare-ups much worse than this have incinerated more than 800 square miles of Kangaroo Island so far. National Geographic, "60 hours on burning Kangaroo Island," 17 Jan. 2020 The flare-up suggests India is turning increasingly hostile to the monopolistic practices of foreign e-commerce players that dominate the burgeoning market. Saritha Rai, Fortune, "India scoffs at Amazon CEO Bezos’s offer to invest $1 billion in the country," 17 Jan. 2020 The recent flare-up in tensions between the United States and Iran was a reminder that by the time of the election, international events could eclipse domestic ones. Patricia Cohen, New York Times, "Trump Fans or Not, Business Owners Are Wary of Warren and Sanders," 17 Jan. 2020 Kim is often candid about her psoriasis and frequently posts unfiltered photos of her flare-ups, often poking fun at herself in the process. Ashley Boucher, PEOPLE.com, "Kim Kardashian Pops Khloé’s Pimple in KUWTK Bonus Clip: ‘I Should Have Been an Esthetician’," 17 Jan. 2020 But this flare-up sidesteps an important question about 2016: Did Hillary Clinton lose because of her first name (Hillary)? Chuck Todd, NBC News, "After Sanders-Warren dust-up, Democrats need to talk about why they lost in 2016," 14 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb First, a look at where intolerance has flared into violence – and the prescription for a pushback. The Christian Science Monitor, "High in the saddle during low tide," 31 Dec. 2019 Since the discovery of the first known changing-look quasar in 2014, astronomers have chased down more of these oddballs—some of which appear to rapidly brighten as a galaxy suddenly flares into a luminous quasar. Shannon Hall, Scientific American, "Lights Out: Astronomers Illuminate the Mystery of Vanishing Quasars," 12 Dec. 2019 At some point, these stars have exhausted the lighter elements that fueled their earlier existence, flared up into a bloated red giant, and burned down into carbon and oxygen rich cores not much larger than the Earth (but far more massive). John Timmer, Ars Technica, "White dwarf star covering itself with the atmosphere of a hot Neptune," 5 Dec. 2019 The dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir has smoldered for decades, at times flaring into major disruption to life in the valley. Sameer Yasir, New York Times, "Anxious and Cooped Up, 1.5 Million Kashmiri Children Are Still Out of School," 31 Oct. 2019 Zimbabweans are enduring shortages of everything from medicines, fuel, cash and water- bringing a weariness and disgust that has often flared into streets protests. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Zimbabwe opposition lawmakers walk out of president’s speech," 1 Oct. 2019 The increasing number of teens carrying guns also means that confrontations can more easily flare into deadly incidents, McCann said. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Our kids are dying: Gun violence killing increasing number of teens in Denver and across Colorado," 15 Sep. 2019 The extraordinary confrontation between a sitting prime minister and the country’s centuries-old deliberative body is the latest convulsion arising from Brexit, which has flared into Britain’s greatest postwar political crisis. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, "Defying Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.K. lawmakers pass bill to block no-deal Brexit," 4 Sep. 2019 The place where the trunk flares out into the roots should sit at the surrounding soil level or a little higher. Beth Botts, chicagotribune.com, "Give trees, shrubs a shave before planting," 19 Aug. 2019

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

Noun and Verb

origin unknown

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Time Traveler for flare

Time Traveler

The first known use of flare was in 1580

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Statistics for flare

Last Updated

7 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Flare.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flare. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for flare


How to pronounce flare (audio)

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 How to pronounce flare (audio) \
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 How to pronounce flare (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on flare

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for flare

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flare

Spanish Central: Translation of flare

Nglish: Translation of flare for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of flare for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about flare

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