\ 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


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.


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


flash floods in the local area
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

With school back in session, too many drivers are failing to stop for school buses with red lights flashing. Gary Richards, The Mercury News, "She got ‘huge’ ticket for passing stopped school bus: Roadshow," 5 Sep. 2019 North Carolina could see hurricane-force winds and the Florida coast could experience flash flooding. Char Adams, PEOPLE.com, "Husband Helplessly Watched Wife Drown in Hurricane Dorian Floodwaters: 'She Was Gone So Quickly'," 4 Sep. 2019 Now, City Council is considering stiffer fines -- and possible jail sentences -- for those who ignore a school bus’ flashing lights to pass while a bus is picking up or dropping off children. Linda Gandee/special To Cleveland.com, cleveland.com, "Avon Lake City Council looking to further penalize drivers who pass school buses," 15 Aug. 2019 Instead of finding a crime scene, the man saw a lawnmower topped with a police car-style flashing light. Ashley Remkus | Aremkus@al.com, al, "Alabama’s Rodney Smith Jr. launches 50-state ‘Mowing with Cops’ tour," 13 Aug. 2019 On June 6, according to the warrant, Hirschfeld brought to work a police-style flashlight that had as one of its features a high intensity flashing light that is designed to disorient and momentarily incapacitate a person. David Owens, courant.com, "DEEP employee accused of making threatening statements to coworkers jailed after police find banned assault weapon in his home," 9 Aug. 2019 When a bus is stopped with red lights flashing and its stop-arm extended, the answer is almost always. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "With stiffer penalties for passing them, school buses are back on the road. Here's when to stop.," 6 Aug. 2019 The Hot Cars Act of 2019 would require a monitoring system in all cars under 10,000 pounds — not just day care vehicles — to sense the presence of a child and alert those outside of the car through honks, alarms and flashing lights. Andrew Boryga, sun-sentinel.com, "Children keep dying in hot cars as Florida legislators fail to act," 5 Aug. 2019 Over 11 games as a freshman, Daniels was wildly inconsistent at the helm of USC’s uneven offense, flashing greatness at times and struggling with the offense’s complexities at others. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "As USC opens camp, quarterback competition begins," 2 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Alabama Last week: 2 Last game: Beat South Carolina 47–23 Next game: Saturday vs. Southern Miss New flash: The Crimson Tide are not perfect. Ross Dellenger, SI.com, "The Rundown: A Week 3 Light on Flashy Matchups Still Manages to Deliver," 15 Sep. 2019 Then in explosive news, @patreegs is filling in for @mattrogerstho who—news flash—BOOKS, and will be off doing something very fun/flirty. John Wenzel, The Know, "Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live’s” first Chinese-American cast member, is from Denver," 13 Sep. 2019 The headphone jack, flash LEDs, and proximity and ambient light sensors are soldered onto the breakout board; the USB-C port and mic are soldered into the bottom module. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "iFixit tears down the newest Fairphone—how repairable is it?," 11 Sep. 2019 This wasn’t just surface flash—and there was plenty of that, from metallic eye shadows to lustrous jumpsuits. Vogue, "Pyer Moss Channels ’70s Rock Icons With Next-Level Glam Beauty," 10 Sep. 2019 The game ended in a tie, but Murray showed impressive poise and Kingsbury’s offense had some notable flashes. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray's NFL debut doesn't impress everyone," 9 Sep. 2019 Josh McDaniels showed several looks on the drive, including a flash 10 personnel with four receivers and one back. Jim Mcbride, BostonGlobe.com, "Patriots have everything working in an opening rout of Steelers," 8 Sep. 2019 Burrow arrived before last season as a graduate transfer from Ohio State, and showed potential in flashes. George Schroeder, USA TODAY, "Opinion: After years in slog, LSU's offense finally goes from archaic to arcade game," 8 Sep. 2019 And the rice crust that failed in the pork ribs integrated with ease into a hot and sour combination of chicken, shrimp and vegetables poured with tableside flash. Mike Sutter, ExpressNews.com, "Review: Li’s Restaurant gives Chinese food fans a Sichuan fix in San Antonio’s Stone Oak," 5 Sep. 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

Dictionary Entries near flash






flash back


Statistics for flash

Last Updated

12 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for flash

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on flash

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flash

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

Comments on flash

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


a topic to which one constantly reverts

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