\ 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 The issue came about when a water flow meter that regulates the casting of engines failed, leading to some engines not cooling properly. Colin Beresford, Car and Driver, "Toyota Recalls 44,000 2019 and 2020 Models over Engine Cracks," 19 Feb. 2020 Soon after the penalty, Patrik Schick passed up a great chance to extend Leipzig's lead following a flowing move but his shot was beaten away by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. John Sinnott, CNN, "RB Leipzig overpowers Tottenham Hotspur in Champions League," 19 Feb. 2020 Thomas is one of several observers who take issue with the Forest Service's decision to place the project in Lake Monroe's watershed, where all water and erosion flow toward the lake, even after calls to relocate it. London Gibson, Indianapolis Star, "Hoosier National Forest burn could hurt drinking water for 140,000 people, opponents say," 18 Feb. 2020 Forecasters expected the flood waters to continue flowing outward, threatening a broader swath of the area, including the heart of the state government in downtown Jackson. Rick Rojas, BostonGlobe.com, "As flooding spreads in Mississippi, officials say the worst is still ahead," 16 Feb. 2020 A la carte dining is available in both the more casual bar area and the formal dining room, encased in glass but cordoned off from the prying eyes of Maple Road by flowing white curtains that accentuate the height of the room. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Best New Restaurant No. 7: Pernoi, Birmingham," 13 Feb. 2020 Two women stand on a cliff's edge, their flowing gowns buffeted by the wind, their expressions lost to sea. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ filmmaker Céline Sciamma on the female gaze and her ‘architecture of desires’," 13 Feb. 2020 The crowd fawned over slo-mo replays on the Garden's video boards - a striking highlight with Bono's exaggerated mustache flowing at his side. CBS News, "Poodle wins group at Westminster dog show after McDonald's snack," 11 Feb. 2020 The crowd fawned over slo-mo replays on the Garden's video boards — a striking highlight with Bono's exaggerated mustache flowing at his side. Jake Seiner, Anchorage Daily News, "Happy meal: Poodle stops for fast food, wins at Westminster," 11 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Everyone expects the reins to come off and Daniels to have more freedom in the flow of the offense as a sophomore — just what every quarterback wants to hear. Michelle Gardner, azcentral, "QB Jayden Daniels again the biggest draw as ASU preps for spring football," 20 Feb. 2020 That caution was reflected in another surge in flows to bond funds. William Power, WSJ, "Stock Funds Fell 1.2% in January," 10 Feb. 2020 In the pivotal fourth quarter of Fenway’s 60-48 girls’ basketball win, no one was more involved in the flow of the game than Fenway’s dynamic duo of Kayana Armbrister and Janyah Gulley. Greg Levinsky, BostonGlobe.com, "Fenway girls’ basketball storms to victory over New Mission," 21 Jan. 2020 Such considerations enter the mind of a wildlife watcher / hunter / naturalist / conservationist when immersed in flow of life in the outdoors. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: View from tree stand invokes optimism for 2020 in the Wisconsin outdoors," 1 Jan. 2020 Boulders and logs can get caught in the flows and can be dangerous to people. oregonlive, "Flood warnings in effect for western Oregon, as eastern side prepares for snow and ice," 19 Dec. 2019 The cardiac unit is interested in that same flow, but through and from the heart. The Economist, "A system based on AI will scan the retina for signs of Alzheimer’s," 18 Dec. 2019 Bill O’Brien is right in saying that Watson's good games are not just him, and that the last game had some oddities in game flow. Stephanie Stradley, Houston Chronicle, "Stephanie Stradley’s Texans-Titans Q&A with Tom Gower," 13 Dec. 2019 Those regulations include a 20% reduction in water use on tank-type toilets compared to standards adopted in 1992, and a 32% reduction in maximum water flow on lavatory faucets, according to the EPA. Justin Sink And Mario Parker, chicagotribune.com, "Trump wants toilet rule review, saying people flush 10 or 15 times, and expresses displeasure with energy-efficient bulbs he says make him look orange," 7 Dec. 2019

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

23 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Flow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flow. Accessed 25 Feb. 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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