\ ˈflō How to pronounce flow (audio) \
flowed; flowing; flows

Definition of flow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a(1) : to issue or move in a stream rivers flow into the sea
(2) : circulate
b : to move with a continual change of place among the constituent particles molasses flows slowly water flowing over the dam
2 : rise the tide ebbs and flows
3 : abound a land flowing with natural resources
4a : to proceed smoothly and readily conversation flowed easily
b : to have a smooth continuity the flowing lines of the car
5 : to hang loose and billowing her gown flowed around her
6 : to derive from a source : come the wealth that flows from trade
7 : to deform under stress without cracking or rupturing used especially of minerals and rocks

transitive verb

1 : to cause to flow flowing oil over the swamp to kill mosquito larvae
2 : to discharge in a flow The new oil well flowed 100 barrels a day.



Definition of flow (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of flowing
b : flood sense 2 the tide's ebb and flow
3a : a smooth uninterrupted movement or progress a flow of information
b : stream also : a mass of material which has flowed when molten an old lava flow
c : the direction of movement or development go with the flow
4 : the quantity that flows in a certain time a gauge that measures fuel flow
6a : the motion characteristic of fluids
b : a continuous transfer of energy

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Synonyms & Antonyms for flow

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for flow


spring, arise, rise, originate, derive, flow, issue, emanate, proceed, stem mean to come up or out of something into existence. spring implies rapid or sudden emerging. an idea that springs to mind arise and rise may both convey the fact of coming into existence or notice but rise often stresses gradual growth or ascent. new questions have arisen slowly rose to prominence originate implies a definite source or starting point. the fire originated in the basement derive implies a prior existence in another form. the holiday derives from an ancient Roman feast flow adds to spring a suggestion of abundance or ease of inception. words flowed easily from her pen issue suggests emerging from confinement through an outlet. blood issued from the cut emanate applies to the coming of something immaterial (such as a thought) from a source. reports emanating from the capital proceed stresses place of origin, derivation, parentage, or logical cause. advice that proceeds from the best of intentions stem implies originating by dividing or branching off from something as an outgrowth or subordinate development. industries stemming from space research

Examples of flow in a Sentence

Verb rivers flowing into the sea She opened the faucet and the water began to flow freely. a device that measures the amount of electricity flowing through a circuit Traffic has been flowing smoothly from east to west. The grain flowed smoothly down the elevator chute. Requests have flowed into the office. Money has continued to flow in. Noun a sudden flow of tears a steady flow of traffic The doctor was trying to stop the flow of blood. We want to encourage the free flow of ideas. the westward flow of settlers We've been receiving a constant flow of phone calls. measuring blood flow to the brain
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Liquid-fuel stoves, like the MSR WhisperLite and others, require occasional cleaning and maintenance to keep the fuel flowing smoothly and the flame burning efficiently. Gary Garth, USA TODAY, "Considering a camping trip this summer? Tips to make sure your gear is good to go," 25 May 2020 May received three stents to keep his arteries flowing and his heart pumping. NBC News, "Queen guitarist Brian May survives heart attack, is now 'ready to rock'," 25 May 2020 The entire city had turned into a giant party, with cheap adult beverages flowing and music blaring on side streets. Gregory Leporati, Ars Technica, "Can a trip to the iconic Monaco Grand Prix cure an F1 cynic?," 24 May 2020 Earlier this week, the New York Post reported that a Lower East Side nightclub allegedly hosted a party this month in the tradition of Prohibition-era gatherings, with cocktails flowing and patrons reciting passwords at the door to be allowed entry. Fox News, "NYC sees controversial underground parties popping up during coronavirus outbreak," 19 May 2020 Feel the true Norwegian countryside calmness of birds chirping, rivers flowing and trees in the wind. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, "Get Away From Everything — and Everyone — in These Secluded, Minimalist Cabins," 16 May 2020 Consent is a measure that naturally ebbs and flows with events and the government’s handling of them. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, "We Are Stronger Than We Think," 14 May 2020 In those early days of free agency, when big money was flowing and one player after another rode that wave out the door of The Star, public opinion stated this was a complete and utter disaster in the making for the Cowboys. David Moore, Dallas News, "Disaster or success? A look inside the Cowboys’ offseason reveals a bit of both," 13 May 2020 Rabbi Noam Cohen, the center's director, said anti-Semitism has ebbed and flowed for centuries. CBS News, "2019 saw most anti-Semitic incidents in US in 40 years, tally finds," 12 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Visitors are also seeing signs promoting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for maintaining personal hygiene, coordinated traffic flow signs and distance markers to encourage social distancing. oregonlive, "Woodburn Premium Outlets, Clackamas Town Center reopen with touch-free interactions," 23 May 2020 As crowds grew in multiple locations, impeding traffic flow and causing safety hazards, deputies and DeLand police officers began ordering vehicles out of certain areas. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "3,000-Person Block Party In Florida Leads To Arrests, Claims Of Racism," 21 May 2020 Turtle Creek will not be closed to regular traffic, so there are restrictions in place to control the traffic flow. Dallas News, "From flyovers to tribute bands, weekend events mark Memorial Day in North Texas," 20 May 2020 Schools may plan for one-way traffic flow through campus as needed. Dr. Tanya Altmann, CNN, "School must look much different this fall to keep kids safe, says pediatrician," 5 May 2020 One option is for cities to rethink traffic flow, Toderian said. Scott Waldman, Scientific American, "Telecommuting Could Outlive the Pandemic, Lowering Emissions," 30 Apr. 2020 Cy-Hope and Houston Food Bank served more than 6,000 families during the first two events, with the National Guard aiding with traffic flow for the second event. Chevall Pryce, Houston Chronicle, "Mega food distribution relocates to Berry Center for third week," 27 Apr. 2020 CenturyLink CenturyLink is monitoring usage across its network in order to quickly add capacity, modify paths, and ensure traffic flows smoothly for all customers. Fortune, "How Fortune 500 companies are utilizing their resources and expertise during the coronavirus pandemic," 13 Apr. 2020 Implementing one-way traffic flow through store aisles. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Many grocery stores will be closed or have limited hours on Easter Sunday," 11 Apr. 2020

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a(1)


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for flow

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Old English flōwan; akin to Old High German flouwen to rinse, wash, Latin pluere to rain, Greek plein to sail, float

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Time Traveler for flow

Time Traveler

The first known use of flow was before the 12th century

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Statistics for flow

Last Updated

31 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Flow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flow. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for flow


How to pronounce flow (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of flow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

of liquid, gas, or electricity : to move in a steady and continuous way
: to move in a continuous and smooth way
: to move, come, or go continuously in one direction



English Language Learners Definition of flow (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of flowing : the movement of something that is flowing
: a large area of mud or some other material that is flowing or that was formed by flowing
: the amount of something that flows in a certain time


\ ˈflō How to pronounce flow (audio) \
flowed; flowing

Kids Definition of flow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to move in or as if in a stream The river flows to the sea. She felt relief flow through her.
2 : to glide along smoothly Traffic is flowing on the highway.
3 : to hang loose and waving Her hair flowed down.



Kids Definition of flow (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of moving in or as if in a stream a flow of tears a flow of praise
2 : the rise of the tide the ebb and flow of the tide
3 : a smooth even movement : stream the flow of conversation a flow of information
4 : an amount or mass of something moving in a stream blood flow
\ ˈflō How to pronounce flow (audio) \

Medical Definition of flow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to move with a continual change of place among the constituent particles blood flows toward the heart in veins



Medical Definition of flow (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the quantity that flows in a certain time
3 : the motion characteristic of fluids

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More from Merriam-Webster on flow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for flow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flow

Spanish Central: Translation of flow

Nglish: Translation of flow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of flow for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about flow

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