\ ˈflash How to pronounce flash (audio) \
flashed; flashing; flashes

Definition of flash

 (Entry 1 of 4)

intransitive verb

1 : rush, dash used of flowing water
2 : to break forth in or like a sudden flame or flare
3a : to appear suddenly an idea flashes into her mind
b : to move with great speed the days flash by
4a : to break forth or out so as to make a sudden display
b : to act or speak vehemently and suddenly especially in anger
5a : to give off light suddenly or in transient bursts
b : to glow or gleam especially with animation or passion her eyes flashed with anger
6 : to change suddenly or violently into vapor
7 : to expose one's breasts or genitals usually suddenly and briefly in public
8 : to have sudden insight often used with on

transitive verb

1a archaic : splash
b : to fill by a sudden inflow of water
2a : to cause the sudden appearance of (light)
b : to cause to burst violently into flame
c(1) : to cause (light) to reflect
(2) : to cause (something) to reflect light flash a mirror
(3) : to cause (a lamp) to flash
d : to convey by means of flashes of light
3a : to make known or cause to appear with great speed flash a message on the screen
b : to display obtrusively and ostentatiously always flashing a roll of bills
c : to expose to view usually suddenly and briefly flashed a badge
4 : to cover with or form into a thin layer: such as
a : to protect against rain by covering with sheet metal or a substitute
b : to coat (glass) with a thin layer (as of metal or a differently colored glass)
5 : to subject (an exposed photographic negative or positive) to a supplementary uniform exposure to light before development in order to modify detail or tone
6 : to expose one's breasts or genitals usually suddenly and briefly to flashed the audience



Definition of flash (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : a sudden burst of light
b : a movement of a flag in signaling
2 : a sudden and often brilliant burst a flash of wit
3 : a brief time
4a : show, display especially : a vulgar ostentatious display
b archaic : a showy ostentatious person
c : one that attracts notice especially : an outstanding athlete
d : pizzazz
5 obsolete : thieves' slang
6 : something flashed: such as
a : glimpse, look
b : smile
c : a first brief news report
e : a quick-spreading flame or momentary intense outburst of radiant heat
(2) : a device for producing a flashlight for taking photographs
8 : the rapid conversion of a liquid into vapor



Definition of flash (Entry 3 of 4)

1a : flashy, showy
b : of, relating to, or characteristic of flashy people or things flash behavior
c : of, relating to, or characteristic of persons considered social outcasts flash language
2 : of sudden origin and short duration a flash fire
3 : having or using a solid-state data storage technology that retains data even without a connection to a power source flash memory



Definition of flash (Entry 4 of 4)

: by very brief exposure to an intense altering agent (such as heat or cold) flash fry flash freeze

Choose the Right Synonym for flash


flash, gleam, glint, sparkle, glitter, glisten, glimmer, shimmer mean to send forth light. flash implies a sudden outburst of bright light. lightning flashed gleam suggests a steady light seen through an obscuring medium or against a dark background. lights gleamed in the valley glint implies a cold glancing light. glinting steel sparkle suggests innumerable moving points of bright light. the sparkling waters glitter connotes a brilliant sparkling or gleaming. glittering diamonds glisten applies to the soft sparkle from a wet or oily surface. glistening wet sidewalk glimmer suggests a faint or wavering gleam. a distant glimmering light shimmer means shining with a wavering light. a shimmering satin dress

Did you know?

The origin of the word flash is uncertain, although it rhymes with a number of other verbs that also mean forceful, often violent movement that may come to a quick end: dash, lash, crash, slash, clash, gash, bash, splash, smash. These words turn up in English over a fairly long period of time, from dash— the only word in the group with a likely foreign source—in the 14th century, to smash in the 18th century. The element -ash has thus provided a kind of model for new words. The initial fl – that is added to -ash to make flash is also heard in words meaning quick movement, as flee, fly, flicker, and flutter.

Examples of flash in a Sentence

Verb Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed. Cameras flashed as the celebrities passed. A car was sitting on the side of the road with its lights flashing. A message flashed on the screen. The screen flashed a message in black letters. Her eyes flashed with anger. Noun A brilliant flash lit up the sky. The idea for the movie came to her in a flash of inspiration. They relied on gimmicks and flash to get people's attention. a show with a lot of flash but little substance Adjective flash floods in the local area
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The outside of the car that's using this iX Flow tech could flash different colors. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, 9 Jan. 2022 And fans also waved light sticks synced by Bluetooth to flash along to the music. Washington Post, 1 Jan. 2022 White gave Rose some of the key elements of Sue Ann’s public persona: Rose is optimistic and accommodating and always ready to flash that frank, blank grin. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 1 Jan. 2022 The water flows on the Mexican side of the river tend to be slower, wider and calmer, habitat beavers favor over the narrower and deeper banks of the upper San Pedro, which are prone to flash floods and torrents during the monsoon. Lindsey Botts, The Arizona Republic, 30 Dec. 2021 Early on, director Gyllenhaal and editor Affonso Gonçalves flash an image of Leda’s younger self, played by Buckley, and one of her daughters. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, 30 Dec. 2021 To remain competitive with NAND flash an annual areal density increase of at least 15% is needed. Tom Coughlin, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 As the royal family gathered on the Buckingham Palace balcony to watch the flypast, Prince George caught a case of the giggles — prompting Savannah to cover his mouth and flash a deadpan look, seemingly knowing the cameras were watching. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, 29 Dec. 2021 When sirens sound and lights flash in their rear view mirrors, motorists tend to wonder if they’re being pulled over for a traffic violation, expired tags or another reason. Gary Warth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The press release also noted that flash flooding is also causing issues throughout the state, with rainfall totals expected to be between 2 and 5 inches, which officials say could complicate response efforts. Adam Sabes, Fox News, 2 Jan. 2022 Strong thunderstorms have been hitting parts of Kentucky Saturday morning, bringing a high risk of torrential rain and flash flooding. Daniel Peck, ABC News, 1 Jan. 2022 Damaging winds, tornadoes, isolated hail and flash flooding are possible Wednesday for certain southern states as the area continues to see record-breaking warm temperatures, according to the National Weather Service. Tori B. Powell, CBS News, 29 Dec. 2021 This is why rainfall rates and flash flooding are increasing globally as temperatures rise with global warming. Jennifer Gray, CNN, 29 Dec. 2021 Other areas of California, however, saw a wet and rainy Christmas as storms continue to drench the state, causing flash flooding and evacuations in some areas over the holiday period. Stefanie Dazio, ajc, 25 Dec. 2021 Southern California residents got a brief Christmas Eve reprieve from a powerful winter storm that brought flash flooding, snarled traffic and prompted evacuations in some burn areas around the region. Los Angeles Times, 24 Dec. 2021 This year, a natural disaster designation was issued for 12 counties where farmers faced flash flooding in the spring and summer. Morgan Greene, chicagotribune.com, 20 Dec. 2021 Given the ground is already saturated across Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee, flooding and flash flooding are very possible. Allison Chinchar, CNN, 30 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective These mass demonstrations have subsided since March and April, but there are still flash protests like the one on Monday, which appear and then dissipate quickly, said Mathieson. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 14 June 2021 That could cause deadly flash floods from tropical cyclones for inland areas, similar to the devastating flooding that Hurricane Harvey caused in Houston in 2017 and Hurricane Florence caused in he Carolinas in 2018, Klotzbach said. Max Golembo, ABC News, 20 May 2021 One of the many challenges the pair faced was the fluctuating light and constant movement of the station, which typically makes non-flash photography harder to achieve. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, 19 Aug. 2020 If the winds stay to the east, there could be flash snowfalls in the mountains. Miguel Almaguer, NBC News, 5 Feb. 2018 Downpours were dumping a quick inch or two of rain on parts of the Baltimore region, including Ellicott City, on Tuesday, prompting the National Weather Service to issue flash flood warnings. Scott Dance, baltimoresun.com, 15 Aug. 2017 Flash flood criteria will be easily met in any location where additional rain falls. Greg Porter, Washington Post, 28 July 2017 Flash organizations may even promote upward mobility — if, say, the person brought in to crank out one-line poems can ascend to a supervisory position. Noam Scheiber, New York Times, 12 July 2017 Flash memory is used in solid-state drives that have replaced many hard drives, and in smartphones and tablets. David Staats And Kristin Rodine, idahostatesman, 27 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flash.' 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 flash


13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1700, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1970, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for flash


Middle English flaschen, of imitative origin

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Time Traveler for flash

Time Traveler

The first known use of flash was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near flash




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Statistics for flash

Last Updated

13 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Flash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flash. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for flash



English Language Learners Definition of flash

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to shine or give off bright light suddenly or in repeated bursts
: to appear quickly or suddenly
: to move or pass very quickly



English Language Learners Definition of flash (Entry 2 of 3)

: a sudden bright light
: a sudden appearance or occurrence of something
: a fancy or exciting quality or appearance that is meant to attract attention to something that is usually not very good or interesting



English Language Learners Definition of flash (Entry 3 of 3)

: beginning suddenly and lasting only a short time
: very talented


\ ˈflash How to pronounce flash (audio) \
flashed; flashing

Kids Definition of flash

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to shine or give off bright light suddenly Lightning flashed in the sky.
2 : to appear quickly or suddenly A message flashed on the screen.
3 : to come or pass very suddenly A car flashed by.
4 : to show briefly The officer flashed his badge.



Kids Definition of flash (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a sudden burst of or as if of light a flash of lightning a flash of brilliance
2 : a very short time I'll be back in a flash.



Kids Definition of flash (Entry 3 of 3)

: beginning suddenly and lasting only a short time flash floods


\ ˈflash How to pronounce flash (audio) \

Medical Definition of flash

: rush sense 2 — compare hot flash

More from Merriam-Webster on flash

Nglish: Translation of flash for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of flash for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about flash


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