\ˈflō \
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

2a : flood sense 1a

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

pour, roll, run, stream

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


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.


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

The first pictures of the landing site should start flowing shortly after touchdown. Marcia Dunn, The Seattle Times, "Mars revisited: NASA spacecraft days away from risky landing," 21 Nov. 2018 This quarter the payments and discounts will start flowing. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, "Norwegian Air May Survive After All," 12 Nov. 2018 The Latest on the aftermath of Hurricane Florence (all times local): 12:45 p.m. Water from the Waccamaw River has started to flow into a Santee Cooper ash pond in Conway, South Carolina. Fox News, "The Latest: NC watching coal ash sites swamped by floods," 22 Sep. 2018 There’s a hissing noise, and the helium starts flowing. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Inside X, the Moonshot Factory Racing to Build the Next Google," 11 July 2018 The tears started flowing again as Dingee emerged from the building, holding what was left of her son’s short life: a check for $82.71. Felice J. Freyer, BostonGlobe.com, "Addicted people often end up in jail. That can be deadly for them," 9 July 2018 Sure enough, the money soon started to flow to Buffalo, leading to new waterfront parks, gleaming modern factories and a cluster of medical and technology facilities. New York Times, "Cuomo’s ‘Buffalo Billion’: Is New York Getting Its Money’s Worth?," 2 July 2018 Kurzrock, meanwhile, is hopeful that funds for extensive testing of turmeric can eventually start flowing. Doug Williams, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Turmeric: superfood or superhype," 25 June 2018 But when Riley and Parker are removed from their current class and split away from their sisters, the tears start flowing. Eileen Reslen, Country Living, "Are the Busbys Expecting?! The First Trailer for Season 3 of 'Outdaughtered' Has Surprising Twist," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Once your fingers start working, a certain flow begins. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "How Moroccan Rugs Are Made: Weaving With Women in the Atlas Mountains," 19 Nov. 2018 For years, these platforms captured Mr. Sayoc’s attention with a steady flow of outrage and hyperpartisan clickbait and gave him a public venue to declare his allegiance to Mr. Trump and his antipathy for the president’s enemies. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why social media is friend to far-right politicians around the world," 30 Oct. 2018 Women described groping , a constant flow of harassment, molestation and even rape. Sarah Stankorb, Glamour, "Are Hashtags Like #MeToo and #BelieveWomen Hurting or Helping Survivors?," 15 Oct. 2018 These gases began to emit radiation and cool down again, and around 5 billion years or so ago a cooling flow made its way into the galaxy and began creating a second generation of stars, this time rich in iron. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Milky Way Died 7 Billion Years Ago And Came Back To Life," 24 Aug. 2018 Oakleigh was deprived of blood flow and died of suffocation. Eileen Reslen, Country Living, "Walker Hayes and His Wife Laney Open Up About Their Newborn Daughter's Heartbreaking Death," 22 Aug. 2018 These nearly perfectly spherical stones started life in a volcanic lava flow. Barbara Henry, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Geode collectors depend on skill, luck to pick out special pieces," 20 June 2018 The collapse of these clouds causes a deadly avalanche of hot rocks, gas, and volcanic ash that races down the mountainside in a deadly pyroclastic flow. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Five Things to Know About Guatemala’s Deadly Volcanic Eruption," 4 June 2018 The upper floors of the building have wide verandas, the lower level leads out onto a fragrant herb garden, and rim-flow pool and terrace for sunbathing and al fresco dining. Jane Broughton, Condé Nast Traveler, "16 Best Hotels in Cape Town," 14 Sep. 2018

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


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


see flow entry 1

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Statistics for flow

Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for flow

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

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More Definitions for flow



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 \
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 \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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