\ 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 Here’s an unexpected side effect of the pandemic -- the water flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time in forever. Fox News, "Amid Italy's coronavirus lockdown, the waters in Venice turn clear," 20 Mar. 2020 Here's an unexpected side effect of the pandemic - the water's flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time in forever. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "The Canals in Venice Are So Still, You Can See Fish and Swans Have Returned," 17 Mar. 2020 The Havasupai are also known as the Havasu Baaja, or People of the Blue-Green Water, after their distinctive turquoise waters that flow through their canyon home. Debra Utacia Krol, azcentral, "Environmentalists fear more uranium mining near Grand Canyon may be impending," 17 Mar. 2020 Nurses placed a cannula into a vein of each person’s arm, allowing easy sampling of blood that flowed through a tube to portals in the wall. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "Why do dozens of diseases wax and wane with the seasons—and will COVID-19?," 13 Mar. 2020 Sportsmen’s groups say big, out-of-state money is behind the push to privatize public rivers flowing through private land. Christine Peterson, Outdoor Life, "Lawyers, Trout, and Money—The Crazy Story Behind the Water Access Battle in New Mexico," 13 Mar. 2020 The United States and the World Bank are mediating the negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, the countries through which the Nile River flows. Elias Meseret, BostonGlobe.com, "Ethiopia says Trump got inaccurate information on Nile dam," 9 Mar. 2020 Louisville Courier Journal CYNTHIANA — Customers flowed through the doors of The Burley Market & Cafe. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, "In this small Kentucky town, life doesn't stop for coronavirus," 8 Mar. 2020 Liam Jackson-Wyatt and his husband, Joshua, never saw themselves with a steady stream of foster children flowing through their three-bedroom home in San Francisco. Jill Tucker, SFChronicle.com, "Want to be a parent? SF aims to recruit 100 foster families to keep kids in the city," 27 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The port and shipping companies have said the flow of goods to Alaska has not been interrupted. Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage isn’t a ghost town yet. But it’s not the same.," 19 Mar. 2020 Passed in 1950 at the start of the Korean War, the act allows the federal government to step in to ensure the steady flow of goods, including military weapons but also food and health supplies. Gregory Barber, Wired, "Ventilator Makers Race to Prevent a Possible Shortage," 18 Mar. 2020 Darrell Smith, a deputy registrar and poll inspector, said poll workers had seen a steady flow of voters at the Queen Creek Unified School District vote center on Chandler Heights Road on Tuesday morning. Jessica Boehm, azcentral, "Maricopa County elections: Short lines and little confusion," 17 Mar. 2020 The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses. Neil Irwin, BostonGlobe.com, "Fed slashes rates to near-zero and unveils sweeping program to aid economy," 15 Mar. 2020 President Trump to expedite the flow of federal dollars to local communities, and state officials extended until June 15 the deadline for those affected by the virus to file their California income tax returns. Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times, "Newsom orders more aid to California campuses shuttered by coronavirus, opting not to close schools statewide," 13 Mar. 2020 Meanwhile, federal prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into potential misconduct by guards, focusing on the flow of contraband into the lockup uncovered during the search for the gun, three people familiar with the matter told the AP. Fox News, "Loaded gun found in jail where Jeffrey Epstein killed himself," 6 Mar. 2020 Ward, a longtime climate activist with another outstanding case in Washington, was convicted in 2017 after turning off a valve that shut off the flow of oil from Canada’s tar sands region to the U.S. oregonlive, "Case against 5 who built garden on train tracks to block oil train ends in mistrial," 28 Feb. 2020 From the March 14 hope opener against D.C. United to the final match at Nippert Stadium Sept. 26 against Minnesota United FC, there's a steady flow of activities, giveaways and ticket deals for FC Cincinnati fans to take advantage of. Pat Brennan, Cincinnati.com, "FC Cincinnati announces promotional schedule for 2020 MLS season," 17 Feb. 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

22 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Flow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flow. Accessed 1 Apr. 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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