\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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Legal costs were flat in the second quarter, compared with a expenses of $70 million in the first quarter of 2018 and costs of $61 million a year earlier. Emily Glazer, WSJ, "JPMorgan, Citigroup Report Higher Profit, Boosted by Stronger Economy," 13 July 2018 Revenues were basically flat in June for Northwest Indiana's five casinos, which collectively took in $76.04 million. Karen Caffarini, Post-Tribune, "Casino revenues steady in Northwest Indiana," 13 July 2018 It was taught to this generation of academics as akin to the law of gravity, but has since become the political-science equivalent of believing Earth to be flat. The Economist, "Fork in the roadShould the party move to the left or to the centre?," 12 July 2018 Comparable-store sales have been essentially flat lately amid stiff competition from the big guys -- Starbucks and Mickey D’s -- as well as countless indie coffee shops and regional chains. Jon Chesto, BostonGlobe.com, "New Dunkin’ CEO charts a path for growth," 11 July 2018 Twitter shares are relatively flat in midday trading on Wednesday at $43.85. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "You May Notice a Drop In Twitter Followers. Here's Why," 11 July 2018 Through the first six months of this year, sales were flat overall in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties, rising only 0.3 percent to 10,247 from 10,220 in the January-through-June span a year ago. Paul Gores, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "June home sales down, prices up in metro Milwaukee as supply lags demand," 11 July 2018 The Mobile Mouse is relatively flat, and is designed to be carried in the same bag or briefcase that the Go is. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's $399, 10-inch Surface Go rethinks the Windows tablet for consumers," 9 July 2018 The research and development budget for energy technology and climate change was flat. Nathanael Johnson, WIRED, "Where Can Climate Activists Find Common Ground?," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Jimenez-Rodriguez was last seen wearing a T-shirt, pastel slacks, ballet flats and carrying a tan purse. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "EquuSearch launches hunt for missing Houston mom," 24 June 2018 In the video, Lucy Jean gracefully skateboards her way through Venice Beach, wearing Repetto ballet flats and a long, flowing dress. Leora Herman, The Cut, "Repetto Challenges You to Skateboard in Ballet Flats," 8 June 2018 The ownership of the flats was made public by the leak in 2016 of the Panama Papers, a trove of documents from a law firm. The Economist, "Pakistan’s former prime minister embraces jail to rally his party," 12 July 2018 Each of these flats is rich enough for its own play. Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, "In the memory palace of Robert Lepage’s ‘887,’ there are many mansions," 5 May 2018 Straw hats were permitted, while flats were definitely not. Author: Juliet Macur, Anchorage Daily News, "NFL cheerleaders say Redskins trip crossed a line," 2 May 2018 Straw hats were permitted, while flats were definitely not. Juliet Macur, New York Times, "Washington Redskins Cheerleaders Describe Topless Photo Shoot and Uneasy Night Out," 2 May 2018 The only thing worse than a flat is getting a flat and not being able to get at your spare. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip in One Day," 18 Aug. 2016 Smallmouth – good from the main lake halfway back in the creeks using a Ned rig on outside of bushes and along gravelly points; largemouth – a majority are in spawning pockets along gravelly flats in the backs of creeks, try using a swimbait. Tyler Mahoney Special To The Star, kansascity, "Outdoors report: Improved fishing prospects, and a Missouri turkey tally | The Kansas City Star," 9 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

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 Yann Ekra doubled the lead in first-half stoppage time when his long-range effort snuck through the Cincinnati defense, leaving goalkeeper Spencer Richey flat-footed. Charlie Hatch, Cincinnati.com, "FC Cincinnati loses 4-1 to Charlotte Independence, snapping five-game unbeaten run," 12 May 2018 The dagger would come in the 75th minute as the Reign's Rumi Utsugi caught Thorns goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom flat-footed on a long-range effort. Caitlin Murray, OregonLive.com, "Portland Thorns fall to Seattle Reign in wild shootout," 5 May 2018 Silver high heels are the next purchase — symbolizing my emancipation from walking flat-footed on the ground. Kate Bolick, New York Times, "Who Bought Sylvia Plath’s Stuff?," 21 Apr. 2018 The rectangular structures, some of which lie flat on the ground and resemble graves, include the names of counties where lynchings occurred, plus dates and the names of the victims. Kim Chandler, The Seattle Times, "New lynching memorial offers chance to remember, heal," 21 Apr. 2018 But Ernesto Valverde's side came out flat-footed, allowing a sixth minute goal to Edin Dzeko on a brilliant Daniele De Rossi long pass. Nihal Kolur, SI.com, "Liverpool, Barcelona at the Pinnacle of the Best Champions League Comebacks Ever," 10 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Kerr's status as a self-deprecating spokesman on so many league and world issues sometimes obscures his ability to flat out coach. K.c. Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "NBA Finals focus: Breaking down the Warriors' Game 2 win," 5 June 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.

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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

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Statistics for flat

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for flat

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

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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

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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

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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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