flash

1 of 4

verb

flashed; flashing; flashes

intransitive verb

1
: rush, dash
used of flowing water
2
: to break forth in or like a sudden flame or flare
3
a
: to appear suddenly
an idea flashes into her mind
b
: to move with great speed
the days flash by
4
a
: to break forth or out so as to make a sudden display
b
: to act or speak vehemently and suddenly especially in anger
5
a
: 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

1
a
archaic : splash
b
: to fill by a sudden inflow of water
2
a
: 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
3
a
: 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

flash

2 of 4

noun

1
a
: 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
4
a
: show, display
especially : a vulgar ostentatious display
b
archaic : a showy ostentatious person
c
: one that attracts notice
especially : an outstanding athlete
d
5
obsolete : thieves' slang
6
: something flashed: such as
a
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
7
8
: the rapid conversion of a liquid into vapor

flash

3 of 4

adjective

1
a
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

flash

4 of 4

adverb

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

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.

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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
The Arkansas Division of Emergency Management has activated its State Emergency Operations Center to a Level 1 in response to flash flooding across the state, the division said in a news release Wednesday afternoon. Remington Miller, arkansasonline.com, 17 July 2024 Will any of Baltimore’s unproven young players, such as second-round rookie tackle Roger Rosengarten, or other backups who have at times flashed, become dependable, every down starters? Brian Wacker, Baltimore Sun, 17 July 2024
Noun
New steakhouse with Michelin-star sizzle: Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina to open in Delray Beach Beryl, now a tropical storm, brings flash flooding and tornadoes to Texas and Louisiana Love watching planes? South Florida Sun Sentinel, Sun Sentinel, 8 July 2024 Storm surges of up to 7 feet, strong winds and flash flooding are expected in some parts of Texas, the Hurricane Center said. Matthew cappucci, Washington Post, 8 July 2024
Adjective
Residents who live near the intersection where the accident occurred said the flash mobs of street takeovers have become weekly occurrences in their neighborhood. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 13 June 2022 The preserve’s southern region is a study in the power of water, and the Lost Dog Wash Trail gives a tour of how flash floods and storm runoff have shaped the foothills of the McDowell Mountains range in the northeast Valley. Mare Czinar, USA TODAY, 10 Apr. 2022 See all Example Sentences for flash 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'flash.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English flaschen, of imitative origin

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

circa 1700, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb

1970, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near flash

Cite this Entry

“Flash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flash. Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

flash

1 of 3 verb
1
: to shine in or like a sudden flame
lightning flashed
her eyes flashed with excitement
2
: to send out in or as if in flashes
flash a message
3
: to appear or pass very suddenly
a car flashed by
4
: to gleam or glow in sudden bursts
5
: to expose to view usually briefly
flash a badge

flash

2 of 3 noun
1
a
: a sudden burst of light, flame, or heat
b
: a movement of a flag or light in signaling
2
: a sudden and brilliant burst
a flash of wit
3
: a brief time
4
: one that attracts notice
especially : an outstanding athlete
5
: a device for producing a brief and very bright flash of light for taking photographs

flash

3 of 3 adjective
1
: beginning suddenly and lasting only a short time
a flash fire
2
: having or using a solid-state data storage technology that retains data even without a connection to a power source
Etymology

Verb

Middle English flaschen

Word Origin
The origin of the word flash is uncertain, though 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.

Medical Definition

flash

noun

More from Merriam-Webster on flash

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