\ˈflat \
flatter; flattest

Definition of flat 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1a : lying at full length or spread out upon the ground : prostrate The soldiers were lying flat on the ground.

b : utterly ruined or destroyed buildings flat from the blast

c : resting with a surface against something Push the chairs flat against the wall.

2a : having a continuous horizontal surface the flat landscape of the prairie

b : being or characterized by a horizontal line or tracing without peaks or depressions a flat EEG

3 : having a relatively smooth or even surface a flat computer disk

4 : arranged or laid out so as to be level or even maps flat on the desk

5a : having the major surfaces essentially parallel and distinctly greater than the minor surfaces a flat piece of wood

b of a shoe heel : very low and broad flat shoes for work

6a : clearly unmistakable a flat denial

b(1) : not varying : fixed a flat rate

(2) : having no fraction either lacking or in excess : exact in a flat 10 seconds

(3) of a frequency response : not varying significantly throughout its range

7a : lacking in animation, zest, or vigor : dull He spoke in a flat, tired voice.

b : lacking flavor : tasteless The stew is too flat.

c : lacking effervescence or sparkle flat ginger ale

d : commercially inactive also : characterized by no significant rise or decline from one period to another sales were flat

e of a tire : lacking air : deflated

f chiefly British, of a battery : dead sense 3c, discharged

8a(1) of a tone : lowered a half step in pitch

(2) : lower than the proper pitch

b of the vowel a : pronounced as in bad or bat

9a : having a low trajectory (see trajectory sense 1) made a flat pass that was intercepted

b of a tennis stroke : made so as to give little or no spin to the ball

10 : not having an inflectional ending flat adverbs

11 of a sail : taut

12a : uniform in hue or shade figures standing out against a background of flat wash

b : having little or no illusion of depth

c of a photograph or negative : lacking contrast

d of lighting conditions : lacking shadows or contours

e : free from gloss : having a nonreflective finish a flat paint

f : two-dimensional sense 3 flat characters

13 : of, relating to, or used in competition on the flat a flat horse

14 of a universe : having a mass such that expansion halts only after infinite time and collapse never occurs



Definition of flat (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : a level surface of land usually used in plural sagebrush flatstidal flats

b : a stretch of land without obstacles especially : a track or course for a flat race usually used with the has won twice on the flat

2 : a flat part or surface the flat of one's hand

3a : a musical note or tone one half step lower than a specified note or tone

b : a character ♭ on a line or space of the musical staff indicating a half step drop in pitch

4 : something flat: such as

a : a shallow container for shipping produce

b : a shallow box in which seedlings are started

c : a flat piece of theatrical scenery

d : a shoe or slipper having a flat heel or no heel

5 chiefly British : an apartment on one floor

6 : a deflated tire

7 : the area to either side of an offensive football formation



Definition of flat (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : in a flat manner : directly, positively

2 : in a complete manner : absolutely flat broke

3 : below the proper musical pitch

4 : without interest charge especially : without allowance or charge for accrued interest bonds sold flat


flatted; flatting

Definition of flat (Entry 4 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : flatten

2 : to lower in pitch especially by a half step

intransitive verb

: to sing or play below the true pitch

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from flat


flatly adverb
flatness noun
flattish \ˈfla-​tish \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for flat


level, flat, plane, even, smooth mean having a surface without bends, curves, or irregularities. level applies to a horizontal surface that lies on a line parallel with the horizon. the vast prairies are nearly level flat applies to a surface devoid of noticeable curvatures, prominences, or depressions. the work surface must be flat plane applies to any real or imaginary flat surface in which a straight line between any two points on it lies wholly within that surface. the plane sides of a crystal even applies to a surface that is noticeably flat or level or to a line that is observably straight. trim the hedge so it is even smooth applies especially to a polished surface free of irregularities. a smooth skating rink

insipid, vapid, flat, jejune, banal, inane mean devoid of qualities that make for spirit and character. insipid implies a lack of sufficient taste or savor to please or interest. an insipid romance with platitudes on every page vapid suggests a lack of liveliness, force, or spirit. an exciting story given a vapid treatment flat applies to things that have lost their sparkle or zest. although well-regarded in its day, the novel now seems flat jejune suggests a lack of rewarding or satisfying substance. a jejune and gassy speech banal stresses the complete absence of freshness, novelty, or immediacy. a banal tale of unrequited love inane implies a lack of any significant or convincing quality. an inane interpretation of the play

Examples of flat in a Sentence


the flat top of the table the flat landscape of the prairie Coins are usually round and flat. a flat piece of wood


the flat of your hand the flat of a sword


Lay the map flat on the desk. He slipped and landed flat on his back. We asked for more time but they turned us down flat.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

That’s about $10 off the MSRP, and a flat-out outstanding price for a solid-state drive. Ian Paul, PCWorld, "Load up on cheap, speedy storage with this 120GB SSD on sale for $23," 26 Oct. 2018 The reason is right now the Left has very little way to attack me other than take things out of context or just flat-out lie. Fox News, "New evidence of political bias at Google; gender politics at play in Michigan Senate race," 21 Sep. 2018 The big problem with mapmaking is that while maps are flat, the Earth is a globe. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Feast Your Eyes on "Equal Earth," the New and More Accurate World Map," 5 Sep. 2018 Moore is the emotional anchor of the entire Jack's Death arc, while Hartley is flat-out devastating in the spotlight episode which focuses on Kevin's worsening addiction. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "8 Snubs and Surprises from the 2018 Emmy Nominations," 12 July 2018 Ant-Man and the Wasp is flat-out funnier, smarter, more exciting, and better written than Ant-Man. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Ant-Man and the Wasp is a solid improvement on Ant-Man," 6 July 2018 Republican judges know that, too, which is why a flat-out repeal of Roe remains improbable. Jonathan Zimmerman, The New Republic, "Overturning Roe v. Wade Could Remake American Politics," 5 July 2018 Those uniforms from the 1998 Royals-Mariners games were flat-out ugly. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "These are the 'Turn Ahead The Clock' uniforms the Royals will wear Saturday," 29 June 2018 Their unlikely romance was the highlight of the first season and had many of us flat-out rooting for the couple despite Fisk's truly villainous acts. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Wilson Fisk is back and better than ever in season 3 of Daredevil," 12 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There's none of that here (these seats are lie-flat, but not full beds), but there is a full-height sliding door—a game-changer in terms of privacy, and previously unheard of in business class. Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "Delta One Suites Coming to More Flights This Fall," 2 Aug. 2018 For Loury, who grew up in public housing as well as an apartment in a three-flat, buying a bungalow in his old neighborhood was a big deal. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How a ‘reverse Great Migration’ is reshaping U.S. cities," 31 July 2018 Drifting fresh shad on the flats is a good tactic this time of year. Tyler Mahoney Special To The Star, kansascity, "Fishing report: Catfish action picking up in Kansas, Missouri lakes," 11 July 2018 As the sea level rises, many of the areas that were once tidal flats will be increasingly susceptible to flooding, bringing tidal rhythms unexpectedly into view. Courtney Humphries, BostonGlobe.com, "Boston vs. the rising tide," 28 Apr. 2018 And there have even been scattered reports of anglers finding schools of speckled trout willing to crash topwater plugs fished over shallow flats in East Galveston Bay and West Matagorda Bay. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "Houston Fishing Show means spring is near," 28 Feb. 2018 The digitally altered, not-for-walking foot-shoe in question was a pair of nightmarish skin ballet flats, fashioned in a petrified on pointe form. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Fecal Matter Has Made Its Photoshopped Skin Shoes Into Actual Wearable Heels—And They're $10,000," 24 Oct. 2018 After beaching on the tide flats, the canoes were immediately surrounded by up to 50 people who picked them up, carried them across the muddy ground and left them above the high-tide line. Craig Sailor, The Seattle Times, "‘It’s amazing’: Puyallup Tribe hosts more than 100 tribes traveling Salish Sea," 28 July 2018 Held every year on the Sunday after Mother’s Day, the event allows home gardeners to hook up with vendors offering flats of flowers, vegetable plants and herbs as well as shrubs and trees. Greg Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "Plan your weekend: Allee Willis, Adam Carolla, Flower Day at Eastern Market," 16 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Fears of a prolonged market downturn, slowing international sales, stepped-up competition in the U.S. and flat-out confusion about how Amazon makes money are all reasons behind the company’s dizzying 25 percent drop in value from its September high. Spencer Soper, The Seattle Times, "Amazon dealt $250 billion blow from market jitters and confusion," 30 Oct. 2018 Over the course of those months, Israel managed to steal, alter, and flat-out fabricate around 400 letters, making her one of the most prolific literary forgers in history. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The True Story of Lee Israel and the Literary Forgeries in Can You Ever Forgive Me?," 12 Sep. 2018 Down below, the Envy boasts a custom rear bench seat—made with breathable multi-density foam—that folds flat into a 42 inch by 72 inch lower bed, perfect for kiddos or one adult. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Pop-top camper van fits in your garage and sleeps a family," 12 July 2018 Roll the remaining pizza ball flat, working from the center outwards. Nancy Miller, The Courier-Journal, "Ciao Ristorante is Italian food with the ultimate Sicilian twist," 3 July 2018 On the opposite wall, a butcher block table with two chairs sat beneath an oversize window and alongside a couch that could fold flat into a bed. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "This tiny house in Wisconsin's Northwoods is a big escape," 1 Feb. 2018 That left workers’ real hourly earnings flat over the 12-month period despite falling unemployment and a strong economy even as workers made up for higher prices by clocking slightly more hours a week in June. Paul Kiernan, WSJ, "Inflation Is Eating Away Worker Wage Gains," 12 July 2018 Germany away in March 2017 – this time I was suitably dressed for the occasion, thankfully – saw the customary English flat-back-four altered to a more continental five. SI.com, "90Min World Cup Fan Diaries: Starting to Believe," 8 July 2018 In fact, crouching doesn’t do much good and lying flat makes a person more likely to be affected by ground current if a strike happens nearby. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "Grand Canyon gets the most lightning strikes among popular parks," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Get ready to kiss your little leopard flats goodbye because camo-print loafers are going to be your go-to, everyday shoe for sure! Jasmine Snow, Seventeen, "Fashion Trends," 12 June 2013 Instead, the cycling startup wants to bring to bear a new strategy that gets rid of the bike rack, and perhaps more audaciously, allows members to flat-out own the bikes and make money off each rental. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "In This Bike-Sharing Plan, You Buy a $1,000 Cycle and Rent It Yourself," 13 Mar. 2015 Meghan has been seen in Sarah Flint’s Natalie flats on a number of occasions, including her first official appearance with Prince Harry, at the Toronto Invictus Games in 2017. Tamara Abraham, Harper's BAZAAR, "Shop the Shoe Brand Meghan Markle Swears By," 18 May 2018 At fault, a toxic troika that combines gushing supply with fears that long-term demand will flat-line as electric vehicles and renewable energies grow, and climate change policies proliferate. Kevin Crowley And Kelly Gilblom, Houston Chronicle, "Can Big Oil win back investors?," 24 Apr. 2018 There's one more option: Trump could flat-out refuse to talk to Mueller in any way and refuse a grand jury subpoena. Danny Cevallos, NBC News, "Mueller wants to hear from Trump. What could possibly go wrong?," 6 Feb. 2018 The Beverly Hills flats property is repped by a pair of agents: Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker and Gregg Silver of Keller Williams Realty, both in Beverly Hills. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Leeza Gibbons Lists Beverly Hills Home for $18.5 Million," 29 Jan. 2018 In contrast to the double digit gains for S&P 500 company profits, DeSanctis said the small cap S&P 600 was expected to see earnings decline 2.5%, a number that could be closer to flat, when counting companies that have already reported. Patti Domm, USA TODAY, "Small caps could be sending a warning for the whole stock market," 8 Aug. 2017 Trophy hunting was already banned in Kenya and Botswana, but after Cecil's death, Australia flat out banned trophy importation. Casey Smith, National Geographic, "Cecil the Lion's Son Xanda Also Killed by Trophy Hunter," 20 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flat.' 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 flat


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1604, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for flat


Middle English, from Old Norse flatr; akin to Old High German flaz flat, and probably to Greek platys broad — more at place


see flat entry 1


see flat entry 1


see flat entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about flat

Statistics for flat

Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for flat

The first known use of flat was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for flat



English Language Learners Definition of flat

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: having a smooth, level, or even surface : not having curves or bumps

: having a wide, smooth surface and little thickness

of a shoe heel : very low and wide; also of a shoe : having a flat heel or no heel



English Language Learners Definition of flat (Entry 2 of 3)

: a level area of land

: a flat part or surface

: a musical note that is one semitone lower than a specified note



English Language Learners Definition of flat (Entry 3 of 3)

: on or against a flat surface

: in the position of someone or something that is lying spread out on the ground or another surface

: exactly or precisely


\ˈflat \
flatter; flattest

Kids Definition of flat

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : having a smooth level surface a flat rock

2 : spread out on or along a surface He was lying flat on his back.

3 : having a broad smooth surface and little thickness A CD is flat.

4 : very clear and definite a flat refusal

5 : not changing in amount I charge a flat rate.

6 : not showing active business Sales are flat.

7 : dull entry 1 sense 3 a flat story She spoke in a flat, tired voice.

8 : having lost air a flat tire

9 : no longer having bubbles flat ginger ale

10 : lower than the true musical pitch

11 : lower by a half step in music

12 : not shiny flat paint

Other Words from flat

flatly adverb He flatly refused to help.



Kids Definition of flat (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a level area of land : plain

2 : a flat part or surface the flat of the hand

3 : a note or tone that is a half step lower than the note named

4 : a sign ♭ meaning that the pitch of a musical note is to be lower by a half step

5 : a tire that has lost air



Kids Definition of flat (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : on or against a flat surface lie flat

2 : without any time more or less : exactly ten seconds flat

3 : below the true musical pitch


\ˈflat \
flatter; flattest

Medical Definition of flat 

1 : being or characterized by a horizontal line or tracing without peaks or depressions the EEG is ominously flat indicating that her brain function is gone— Don Gold

2 : characterized by general impoverishment in the presence of emotion-evoking stimuli flat affect often occurs in schizophrenia

Other Words from flat

flatness noun

Keep scrolling for more



Legal Definition of flat 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: not varying a flat rate specifically, of a tax : having a rate that remains constant for any taxable base



Legal Definition of flat (Entry 2 of 2)

: without interest charge especially : without allowance or charge for accrued interest bonds sold flat

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on flat

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flat

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for flat

Spanish Central: Translation of flat

Nglish: Translation of flat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of flat for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about flat

Comments on flat

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


to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!