flash·​back | \ ˈflash-ˌbak \

Definition of flashback

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a recession of flame to an unwanted position (as into a blowpipe)
2a : interruption of chronological sequence (as in a film or literary work) by interjection of events of earlier occurrence also : an instance of flashback
b : a past incident recurring vividly in the mind

flash back


Definition of flash back (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to focus one's mind on or vividly remember a past time or incident usually used with to flashed back to my childhood
2 : to employ a flashback (as in a film) usually used with to

Examples of flashback in a Sentence


The character's childhood was described in a series of flashbacks. He's having flashbacks of his days in the war.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The scene is just one of many flashbacks in this episode, but what's still unclear is if Frank will continue to appear on the show, or if this was a one-time occurrence. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "What Tobias Menzies's Return to Outlander Reveals About Frank Randall," 17 Dec. 2018 As for Manny, saddled here with a haunted childhood (those flashbacks are unneeded), a wife with cancer and an 11th-hour bit of life-changing news, the aspiring actor may mean well but never proves a vibrant or compelling enough anchor. Gary Goldstein, latimes.com, "A bad-boy actor makes for a less than compelling drama in 'Racing Colt'," 21 June 2018 Last night, my daughter wrote on her Instagram that her flashback is poppin'. Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY, "'Blockers': Parents Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz just might understand," 2 Apr. 2018 But even in its weakest flashbacks, Unsolved finds a pair of capable stars in Wavyy Jonez, who plays Biggie, and Marcc Rose, who reprises the role of Tupac after making his debut in 2015’s Straight Outta Compton. Scott Meslow, GQ, "Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.," 1 Mar. 2018 Near the beginning of the episode, a flashback shows the moment when Versace first met the man who would, seven years later, kill him. Michael E. Miller, Washington Post, "Fact checking ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’: Did the fashion mogul date his killer?," 17 Jan. 2018 Adora and Catra’s pre-She-Ra relationship is a years-long friendship, but it could be interpreted as a deeper kind of love — in a flashback, Catra is shown to sleep at the foot of Adora’s bed. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power honors and challenges the original She-Ra.," 21 Nov. 2018 Leta looked to be around 10 in the flashback, and since the movie takes place in 1927, that would put her at about 25 in The Grimes of Grindelwald. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "There’s a Hidden Titanic Reference in Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald and You Totally Missed It," 16 Nov. 2018 Her confession is seen in a flashback that ends with Sean and her conceiving Nicky in an airplane bathroom. Patti Greco, Glamour, "17 Bonkers Things Blake Lively Says and Does in Her New Movie A Simple Favor," 16 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flashback.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of flashback


1903, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1944, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about flashback

Dictionary Entries near flashback





flash back


flash boiler

Statistics for flashback

Last Updated

9 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for flashback

The first known use of flashback was in 1903

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for flashback



English Language Learners Definition of flashback

: a part of a story or movie that describes or shows something that happened in the past

: a strong memory of a past event that comes suddenly into a person's mind

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on flashback

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flashback

Spanish Central: Translation of flashback

Nglish: Translation of flashback for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of flashback for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about flashback

Comments on flashback

What made you want to look up flashback? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


someone who never drinks alcohol

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!