\ 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
5 obsolete : thieves' slang
6 : something flashed: such as
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)

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

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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 Babies don’t need flashing lights and singing buttons to engage them. Popular Science, "Baby walkers to help your little one start cruising," 30 Apr. 2020 The pair was walking a small Pomeranian and holding hands when an undercover cop flashed his badge and told the lovebirds to get a room, literally. Ellie Borstad, USA Today, "Love in the Time of Coronavirus: My new boyfriend was visiting, and now he can't leave," 27 Mar. 2020 The smartphone app’s logo flashed a heart, half blue and half red. Snigdha Poonam And Samarth Bansal, Quartz India, "Inside the Chinese dating apps exploiting the loneliness of India’s men," 12 Mar. 2020 In the photo, J.Lo is wearing a smoky eye and flashes her neon-yellow manicure for what looks like a night out. Audrey Noble, Allure, "Jennifer Lopez Is Making the Case for Chunky Highlights," 12 Mar. 2020 Then, the fireflies started to flash in patterns: brightly and dimly, flitting around the boat’s canopy. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, "This Dreamy Island in Indonesia Lights Up With Hundreds of Fireflies at Night," 4 Mar. 2020 Some had glittering bones (one salamander’s finger bones flashed neon green, for example), and others had sparkling skin mucus and even urine. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Science | AAAS, "Newts and frogs light up like glow sticks under the right light," 27 Feb. 2020 Schoonover, brimming with confidence, flashed a few tantalizing selfies with some big trout from the night before. Joe Cermele, Field & Stream, "How to Fish for Seatrout at Night," 27 Feb. 2020 Amid evil cackles, flashing lights and a towering ghost pumpkin shivering and growling, a demented clown crept up behind a group of haunted house enthusiasts, waiting for just the right moment to jump from the shadows. Noelle Phillips, The Know, "What makes the 13th Floor Haunted House so scary? Science, that’s what.," 9 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Lauched in 2011, their LightStrike robot’s pulsed xenon lamp shoots intense UV light in millisecond flashes, deactivating a whole range of microbes, including bacteria, spores, fungi and viruses. Dinsa Sachan, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Innovators Are Adapting Existing Technologies to Fight COVID-19," 14 Apr. 2020 Not only will every shrub in your driveway trigger a stream of beeps and flashes, but the front collision sensors occasionally take a moment to remind you that there's a car in front of you at a stoplight. Elana Scherr, Car and Driver, "2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Combines Style, Tech, and Fuel Efficiency," 10 Apr. 2020 On the runway, multicolored ski jackets followed pin-striped pants, loose silk knee-length dresses in sparkling tiger prints, black leather ankle boots with a geometric flash of color, and tailored plaid jackets with strong black lapels. Thomas Adamson, Fortune, "Paris Fashion Week showcases the latest in clothing—and face masks," 3 Mar. 2020 The video captured a parade of runners moving along before a quick flash of two deer leaping in front of the police car, before moving on. Meredith Spelbring, Detroit Free Press, "Dashcam captures deer leaping in front of police car during Rochester 5K," 23 Jan. 2020 At the start of school Tuesday, the Cathedral girls’ basketball program received an exciting news flash: Seniors Ariana Vanderhoop and Mackenzie Daleba had been nominated for the 2020 McDonald’s All American Game. Greg Levinsky, BostonGlobe.com, "Ariana Vanderhoop, Mackenzie Daleba lead Cathedral past Archbishop Williams," 14 Jan. 2020 The camera block has six spots, sporting four cameras, an LED flash, and a tiny hole in the bottom right that Weinbach says is a microphone hole. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Samsung’s next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S20, gets photographed," 13 Jan. 2020 The liquid water flashes to steam, expanding its volume 1,700 times in a heartbeat. Robin George Andrews, National Geographic, "Why the New Zealand volcano eruption caught the world by surprise," 9 Dec. 2019 But, news flash, there’s no hack in the known universe that’s going to make a conversation that requires sensitivity, compassion, and nuance require...any less of those things. Christine Byrne, Self, "How to Live Your Anti-Diet Values in a Weight-Obsessed World (Without Being a Jerk)," 27 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective If the winds stay to the east, there could be flash snowfalls in the mountains. Miguel Almaguer, NBC News, "Record-breaking cold? PyeongChang braces for frigid weather ahead of Olympics," 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, "Howard County, Baltimore under flash flood warnings," 15 Aug. 2017 Flash flood criteria will be easily met in any location where additional rain falls. Greg Porter, Washington Post, "PM Update: Torrential rain continues on and off through the night, showers taper off on Saturday," 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, "The Pop-Up Employer: Build a Team, Do the Job, Say Goodbye," 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, "New CEO ‘uniquely qualified’ to lead Micron, co-founded and led successful competitor," 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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Learn More about flash

Time Traveler for flash

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for flash

Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Flash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flash. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for flash


How to pronounce flash (audio)

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
usually disapproving : 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
US, informal : 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on flash

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for flash

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flash

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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