flat

1 of 4

adjective

flatter; flattest
1
a
: 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.
2
a
: 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
5
a
: 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
6
a
: 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
7
a
: 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
8
a(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
9
a
: 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
12
a
: 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
flatly adverb
flatness noun
flattish adjective

flat

2 of 4

noun

1
a
: a level surface of land
usually used in plural
sagebrush flats
tidal 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
3
a
: 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

flat

3 of 4

adverb

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

flat

4 of 4

verb

flatted; flatting

transitive verb

1
2
: to lower in pitch especially by a half step

intransitive verb

: to sing or play below the true pitch
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

Adjective the flat top of the table the flat landscape of the prairie Coins are usually round and flat. a flat piece of wood Noun the flat of your hand the flat of a sword Adverb 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
Democrats are urging Republicans to take the loss as a signal to support Kelly’s tax plan, which had similar components on property and sales tax but increased the standard deduction rather than moving to a flat income tax. Katie Bernard, Kansas City Star, 21 Feb. 2024 The expats are placed with 21st-century liaisons, known as ‘bridges,’ in unlikely flat shares. Georg Szalai, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Feb. 2024 After unpacking, simply lift the internal metal kickstands to store the gear box flat. Kevin Brouillard, Travel + Leisure, 21 Feb. 2024 The first includes a small church with a flat apse — a dome-like addition to the building. Moira Ritter, Miami Herald, 21 Feb. 2024 The end result is a flatter, simpler-looking garment, but one that should, at least in theory, perform better under extreme conditions of human movement. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, 20 Feb. 2024 First, the water is relatively flat thanks to a breakwater built two miles offshore in the 1940s to help protect the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet. Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2024 The company reported earnings per share of $1.02 for the first quarter, beating analyst estimates of 99 cents, but revenue was flat, falling short of expectations at $23.5 billion. Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024 Hipgnosis Songs Fund’s share price was roughly flat at 65 British pence ($0.84) following Wednesday’s extraordinary general meeting. Richard Smirke, Billboard, 7 Feb. 2024
Noun
Qualley, 29, continued her chic Chanel streak as an ambassador for the brand wearing a long black lace gown with a nude underlay, teamed with white flats and a big black bow in her hair, a look that's become her signature. Hedy Phillips, Peoplemag, 21 Feb. 2024 Tucked between the mountains and the sea, the Hakka village at Lai Chi Wo, for instance, features mature woodlands, freshwater streams, agricultural wetlands, mud flats and mangroves. Rebecca Cairns, CNN, 12 Feb. 2024 These days, Gerken lives in a one-story, ranch-style home in the flats of Fairfax with his wife, Heather, who works in public health research for UCSF, and their 17-year-old daughter, Sabine, a student at Archie Williams High School in San Anselmo. Paul Liberatore, The Mercury News, 2 Feb. 2024 Participants will leave with a flat of 50 starts for their own garden. Jeanette Marantos, Los Angeles Times, 1 Feb. 2024 The 16 three- or four-bedroom beach flats, which have their own plunge pools, occupy three-story buildings just steps from the shore. Robb Report Studio, Robb Report, 10 Feb. 2024 The site is bursting with ballet flats in different colors and materials, and so many of our favorites are on sale. Clara McMahon, Peoplemag, 9 Feb. 2024 My two-bedroom flat in Barcelona was bartered for a townhouse in Brooklyn, romantic studio in Milan, park-facing pied-à-terre in Madrid, city escapes in London, and even a penthouse in Paris with views of the Sacré-Coeur. Sarah Wood, Condé Nast Traveler, 1 Feb. 2024 Not quite ready to tuck my ballet flats or loafers away, ribbed or cashmere socks transform traditionally spring/summer styles into suitable winter footwear all the while elevating any look with not just one but two pairs of socks for a bit of flair. Alexis Bennett Parker, Vogue, 30 Jan. 2024
Adverb
The Cowboys came out flat and had little energy and no answers for Green Bay. Rob Maaddi, USA TODAY, 15 Jan. 2024 Mixing in plants with sculptural objects as well as some books and photos really creates a collected look that doesn’t fall flat. Caron Golden, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Feb. 2024 Homes will be able to be ordered online Amazon-style, with customers adding features to their cart and the order sent to a warehouse where all the elements will be flat packed and shipped ready to install. Andrea Darr, Kansas City Star, 26 Jan. 2024 But prosecutors urged jurors to remain focused on what had happened in and directly outside the car, and Mr. Majors’s arguments appear to fall flat. Erin Nolan, New York Times, 18 Dec. 2023 If this sounds far too complicated, simply lay the robe flat, fold the sleeves into the middle until the shape is fairly rectangular and then roll tightly. Jessica MacDonald, Travel + Leisure, 15 Dec. 2023 The only problem: half-empty cans and bottles of soda that go flat, get warm, and end up wasted. G. Clay Whittaker, Bon Appétit, 8 Dec. 2023 Make your bed with the two single comforters laid out flat, touching the the middle of the bed. Veronica Cristino, Vogue, 21 Nov. 2023 Klein was straightforward and could flat enter a room. Nick Canepa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Nov. 2023
Verb
The process is pretty straightforward: Find a rough surface, and place the top of the can flat against it. Christopher Michel, Country Living, 20 Apr. 2022 By flatting the top, more main string gets lengthened, also improving control. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, 21 Jan. 2020 Lead is harmful at any dose, and especially toxic to the nervous system; arsenic can flat-out kill you, the inspector general wrote. Zoë Schlanger, Quartz, 19 Nov. 2019 The main assumptions are 11 million barrels a day of crude oil production, Brent flat at $65 a barrel, net refining margins of $3 a barrel and chemicals net margins of $100 a tonne. Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2019 Brian Snyder, Arizona Republic One can flat shoot it. Duane Rankin, azcentral, 3 July 2019 Thoughtfully, my mother suspected this might be the case, and a few days before the wedding found an ideal backup: Manolo Blahnik flats with ample space for injured toes. Alexandra MacOn, Vogue, 12 July 2019 Plus, the dude can flat-out sing, though no one else matches his pitch-perfect acting turn. USA TODAY, 26 June 2019 The fashionable royal has shown us that flats like knee-high boots and sneakers can be just as stylish (and functional) on the job, and yesterday was no exception. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, 29 Mar. 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'flat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective, Noun, Adverb, and Verb

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

First Known Use

Adjective

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

Noun

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

Adverb

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

circa 1604, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near flat

Cite this Entry

“Flat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flat. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

flat

1 of 4 adjective
flatter; flattest
1
: having a smooth level surface
flat ground
2
: having a smooth even surface
3
: spread out on or along a surface
was flat on the ground
4
: having a broad smooth surface and little thickness
shoes with flat heels
5
: absolute sense 3
a flat refusal
6
: fixed sense 1b, unchanging
charge a flat rate
7
: exact entry 2 sense 1
in two minutes flat
8
a
: lacking in interest or flavor
a flat story
the stew tastes flat
b
: lacking bubbles or sparkle
flat ginger ale
c
: lacking any rise or decline
sales were flat
9
: being deflated
used of tires
10
a
: lower than the true pitch
b
: lower by a half step
tone of A flat
11
: free from gloss
flat paint
flatly adverb
flatness noun

flat

2 of 4 noun
ˈflat
1
: a level surface of land : plain
2
: a flat part or surface
3
a
: a musical tone one half step lower than a specified tone
b
: a character ♭ before a note indicating that it is to be a flat
4
: a shallow box in which seedlings are started
5
: a shoe or slipper having a flat heel or no heel
6
chiefly British : an apartment on one floor
7
: a deflated tire

flat

3 of 4 adverb
1
: on or against a flat surface
lie flat
2
: as much as possible : completely
was flat broke
3
: below the true musical pitch

flat

4 of 4 verb
flatted; flatting
: to lower in pitch especially by a half step

Medical Definition

flat

adjective
flatter; flattest
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 goneDon Gold
2
: characterized by general impoverishment in the presence of emotion-evoking stimuli
flat affect often occurs in schizophrenia
flatness noun

Legal Definition

flat

1 of 2 adjective
: not varying
a flat rate
specifically, of a tax : having a rate that remains constant for any taxable base

flat

2 of 2 adverb
: without interest charge
especially : without allowance or charge for accrued interest
bonds sold flat

More from Merriam-Webster on flat

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