\ 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 Local organisers wanted neighbourhood marches, flash mobs and protest symbols displayed on Thursday evening, but are preparing a larger protest at the weekend. NBC News, "Dozens detained as Belarus marks 'Freedom Day' with new protests," 25 Mar. 2021 Each episode opens with a flash-forward storyline set three months after the events at the start of the main plot. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, "‘Generation’ Tries to Capture the Chaos of Teen Angst," 11 Mar. 2021 The truck does a lap around a steel forge with a freaking yacht in tow before a stack of girders is dropped in the bed, all while outrageous payload, towing, and torque figures flash on the screen. David Beard, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2020 Chevrolet, Ford, and Ram HD Pickup Pull-Off," 5 Feb. 2021 Many of their posts feel like tiny movie trailers, where pictures flash across the screen to a moody soundtrack. New York Times, "How Crying on TikTok Sells Books," 20 Mar. 2021 Jimmie Johnson couldn’t help but flash a huge grin that transformed into a laugh, largely at his own expense. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Jimmie Johnson's IndyCar debut nears, but hardest tests ahead: '(Out of 1-10) I'm at a 2'," 5 Mar. 2021 Instead of an encouraging hand on the shoulder between scenes, Lee and Rix flash each other a peace sign. Michael Paulson, BostonGlobe.com, "Broadway is dark. London is quiet. But in Australia, it’s showtime," 27 Feb. 2021 Pure Storage's FlashArray//C, announced just over a year ago, was the first mainstream array to deliver QLC NAND flash into the enterprise storage market. Steve Mcdowell, Forbes, "Pure Storage’s Steady Hand: Fiscal Q4 And Product Updates," 25 Feb. 2021 When someone enters the zone, the camera can be set to play sounds and flash the light along with sending a smartphone notification for instant viewing. Gregg Ellman, Star Tribune, "Need a security camera? Here's a cheap, versatile option," 24 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But until last week, 31 buses were sent out daily with packets of printouts for homework and flash drives with videos of lessons for math, science, history and English. Cecilia Kang, New York Times, "That Spotty Wi-Fi? There’s $100 Billion to Fix It.," 1 Apr. 2021 The neutrino’s energy and path can be reconstructed from the flash. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Neutrino hunters go underwater in quest to trap ghost particles," 31 Mar. 2021 The heavy rain prompted flash floods which swept cars into inescapable currents, and damaged dozens of homes and buildings. Michael Guy And Hollie Silverman, CNN, "Millions in the Southeast under threat of severe weather, including possible tornadoes," 31 Mar. 2021 And for one brief second there’s this huge bright light when all three meteors cross paths at the same time and there’s just this brilliant flash ... Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times, "Malcolm Cecil, synthesizer pioneer and Stevie Wonder collaborator, dies at 84," 29 Mar. 2021 But this isn’t just the dream trimmer for tech nerds — there’s also real substance behind the flash. Kai Burkhardt, CNN Underscored, "The best beard trimmers of 2021," 26 Mar. 2021 What’s particularly exasperating is when the flash-forward teasers aren’t even that exciting to begin with. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, "Let’s Not Do the Time Warp Again," 26 Mar. 2021 This is a player who has the lacrosse IQ to know when to play simple and to know when to play with flash. Rich Scherr, baltimoresun.com, "McDonogh’s Caroline Godine doesn’t just ‘fiddle’ with lacrosse. She’s all business on the field and in the classroom.," 26 Mar. 2021 Using the flash that comes with cell phones is a big no-no. Maren Estrada, BGR, "10 cheap gadgets on Amazon you’ll wish you had all along," 25 Mar. 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

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

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

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