\ 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

The collaboration between Skanska, Pickard Chilton and MKA ensured both the functional component of the column design, but also an architectural flare. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, "These 165,000-Pound Columns Will Heft a 38-Story Tower 85 Feet Off the Ground," 12 June 2018 Grilled Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Burgers Ground lamb is especially prone to flare-ups on the grill, so keep an eye on the burgers and, if necessary, move them to a cooler part of the grill until flares die down. Adam Ried, BostonGlobe.com, "Recipes: Switch it up with lamb burgers instead of beef," 13 July 2018 Fans back home in Zagreb, Croatia, took to the streets to celebrate, lighting flares and waving flags in a sea of exuberance. Ronald Blum, The Christian Science Monitor, "Croatia will make its first-ever appearance in World Cup final," 12 July 2018 Perplexingly, however, Fermi had observed no corresponding flare in gamma rays. Mark Bowen, Scientific American, "Neutrinos on Ice: Astronomers' Long Hunt for Source of Extragalactic "Ghost Particles" Pays Off," 12 July 2018 Wielding mostly 16-millimeter film, the director of photography, Ryan Kernaghan, mimics the home movies of the time with flickering ellipses and flares of dazzling, burned-out white. Martin Brennan, New York Times, "Review: Sinfulness and Scares Behind ‘The Devil’s Doorway’," 12 July 2018 These fighter jets were chasing each other around, sonic booms and even shooting off flares. Mark Freeman, The Seattle Times, "F-15 dogfights shatter the calm in SW Oregon wilderness," 9 July 2018 Paddles, whistles, or signal flares are recommended. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "How Great Lakes kayakers saved themselves after being stranded," 6 July 2018 Conflicts like this flare up on occasion in operating rooms, where teams of skilled professionals work together in high-pressure environments. Katie Langin, Science | AAAS, "Yelling, cursing less likely to break out in operating rooms when female surgeons are present," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Backlash against tourists, in general, has been flaring up in recent years in Barcelona, especially. Michael Bartiromo, Fox News, "Radical anti-tourism group in Spain storms buses filled with sightseers to protest 'mass tourism'," 10 July 2018 In the second inning, the Marlins’ Miguel Rojas flared a ball into short left field. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "Giants may need a changing of the guard: Pence/Jackson out, Slater/Duggar in," 20 June 2018 And so the civil war still flares up occasionally — most seriously in recent years with a torpedo attack on a South Korean warship in 2010 that killed 46 sailors. Barbara Demick, latimes.com, "Ending the Korean War will take more than the Singapore summit," 10 June 2018 On one of the back fields later in the day, tempers flared in a game that included former NFL great Terrell Owens on one of the teams. Joseph Person, charlotteobserver, "A Falcons OTAs no-show, Julio Jones makes appearance at Cam Newton's kickball tourney," 1 June 2018 So when the latest sky-high reassessment letters came from the City of Philadelphia, tempers flared in most neighborhoods. Erin Arvedlund, Philly.com, "City Council can stop Philly's sky-high property assessments. WIll it?," 1 June 2018 The county ended the official emergency in January, though some cases flared up, particularly in North County. Michael Smolens, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Hepatitis crisis has subsided, dispute over who's to blame hasn't," 16 May 2018 The case flared up again briefly in the days before the November vote when new emails were found on the laptop of a Clinton aide. David Shortell, CNN, "James Comey, former FBI director, strong-willed prosecutor and paragon of controversy, is ready to tell his story," 13 Apr. 2018 Six days later, the Fermi team reported the satellite had found that a blazar, known as TXS 0506+056 and just 0.1° away from the neutrino track suggested by IceCube, was especially bright, having started flaring a few months earlier. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Ghostly particle caught in polar ice ushers in new way to look at the universe," 12 July 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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Learn More about flare

Phrases Related to flare

one's temper flares

tempers flare

Statistics for flare

Last Updated

5 Sep 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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to make amends

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