\ 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

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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 Photinus carolinus fireflies, which flash synchronously, can be seen from the Elkmont Campground inside the park. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Firefly lottery, vaccine exemptions, data breach: News from around our 50 states," 29 Apr. 2021 Elsewhere, periods of thunderstorms will develop to the west and then move across the Dallas-Fort Worth area before transforming into heavy rain and potentially flash flooding, according to KXAS-TV (NBC5). Kelli Smith, Dallas News, "Tornado watch in effect for D-FW area until 2 a.m.; large hail rains down as tornado warning in Tarrant County canceled," 28 Apr. 2021 In one fluid motion, Sub-Zero dodges Scorpion’s attack, slices his chest open, and then uses his powers to flash-freeze the spray of blood into a blood-icicle. James Grebey, Vulture, "Could You Really Stab Somebody With Their Own Frozen Blood or Is Mortal Kombat Lying to Me?," 19 Apr. 2021 When the news breaks, the lights will flash, alerting DJs to switch the music to their prepared somber music playlists. Alex Warner, Marie Claire, "Exactly What Will Happen When Queen Elizabeth II Dies," 23 Apr. 2021 Concerts, bars and hotels are open to those who can flash their vaccine certificates. Washington Post, "With most adults now vaccinated, Israelis are busting loose," 21 Apr. 2021 While the Lyrids are a medium-scale shower in terms of the number of meteors, they're known for producing quite a few fireballs, which are shooting stars that flash brightly and leave a long-lasting streak across the sky. Stefanie Waldek, Travel + Leisure, "The Lyrid Meteor Shower Will Bring Dazzling Shooting Stars This Month," 4 Apr. 2021 In 2019, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency warned that China appeared to be deploying a new generation of extremely powerful lasers that could flash to life by the middle of this decade, putting new classes of American satellites at risk. William J. Broad, BostonGlobe.com, "How space became the next ‘great power’ contest between the US and China," 25 Jan. 2021 In 2019, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency warned that China appeared to be deploying a new generation of extremely powerful lasers that could flash to life by the middle of this decade, putting new classes of American satellites at risk. New York Times, "How Space Became the Next ‘Great Power’ Contest Between the U.S. and China," 24 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun By the way, sound of thunder is audible from roughly 10 miles away from a lightning flash, according to NWS. Marshall Shepherd, Forbes, "This May Shock You But Heat Lightning Is Not A ‘Thing’," 11 May 2021 But flash-forward to the present — with all that glam preserved on a high shelf like a can of hairspray collecting dust — and the song still holds up, particularly when Wilson performs it on acoustic with her husky vocals. Angie Martoccio, Rolling Stone, "Nancy Wilson Exudes Well-Worn Wisdom on Her Solo Debut ‘You and Me’," 10 May 2021 Jones also is a big who could only enhance the flash Charlotte is starting to enjoy with LaMelo Ball running the point. Matt Goul, cleveland, "Cade Cunningham or Evan Mobley? NBA Mock Draft 2021 begins with that decision," 10 May 2021 But Ritchie’s skill set has always been multilayered plotting, flashbacks and flash-forwards, and loopy tangents — the exact opposite of the Eastwood/Sergio Leone/Don Siegel school of linear action filmmaking. BostonGlobe.com, "In ‘Wrath of Man,’ Jason Statham works for an armored car company. Now there’s trouble.," 6 May 2021 After each lightning flash, the researchers found the concentrations of hydroxyl and hydroperoxyl increased by thousands of parts per trillion, Science News reports. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, "Lightning May Wash Pollution Out of the Air With a Chemical Dubbed ‘Detergent of the Atmosphere’," 4 May 2021 Two construction workers renovating an industrial building in Escondido today were seriously injured in a flash fire, authorities said. City News Service, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Construction workers badly burned in Escondido fire," 4 May 2021 Marlena Sloss, a freelance photographer in San Francisco and contributor to The Washington Post, explained that the image also appeared to have been captured with strong flash and a wide-angle lens. Washington Post, "Are the Bidens giants? Are the Carters tiny? Or are our eyes failing us?," 4 May 2021 Last week, Germany reported a flash estimate that the economy contracted at a rate of 1.7% quarter on quarter. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, "COVID-19 deals another crushing blow to Europe’s tourism sector: Oktoberfest is canceled this year," 3 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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, "See the International Space Station Like Never Before With This Photo Book Created by an Astronaut and Photographer," 19 Aug. 2020 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

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Flash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flash. Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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
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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