\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

back up

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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

Swiss authorities are investigating how much of the money that flowed through the Swiss financial system may have been misappropriated, Michael Lauber said Tuesday. Yantoultra Ngui, WSJ, "About $7 Billion Linked to 1MDB Flowed Through Global Financial System, Switzerland Says," 10 July 2018 The multi-jurisdictional plan will rethink 58 miles of the White River, which flows through Central and Southern Indiana into the Wabash River. Emily Hopkins, Indianapolis Star, "We 'turned our back' on the White River. Now, Indianapolis wants to make it a destination.," 10 July 2018 But the wetlands and creek beds to the north that drain into the lake are still filled with nutrients that flow into the lake, Havens said. Jenny Staletovich, miamiherald, "What’s an algae bloom and how did it wind up sliming Florida’s biggest lake?," 10 July 2018 Tham Luang Cave, about two miles from the border with Myanmar, is the bed of an underground river that flows during the monsoon season. Richard C. Paddock, New York Times, "How Rescuers Pulled Off the Impossible in a Treacherous Thai Cave," 10 July 2018 Basically, if list prices rise, so do rebates that flow back to pharmacy benefit managers and health plans, which means there is really no incentive for prices to drop. Ed Silverman, STAT, "He can shame Pfizer and others, but Trump doesn’t have a practical way to lower drug prices," 9 July 2018 The monsoonal moisture that flows into San Diego County during the summer generates lightning that can spark fast-moving wildfires, especially in the mountains, where thunderstorms are most likely to erupt. Gary Robbins, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Lightning can cause wildfires — and death — in a flash," 8 July 2018 Ironside Roasting Company serves from a stylish wood cart lashed together in dark metal, an intentionality of design that flows over into the coffee itself. Alex Kiesig, idahostatesman, "'I love this city': Eat your way through the Capital City Public Market," 6 July 2018 Its centerpiece is a landscaped stream, created to manage stormwater, that would restore an often-dormant waterfall that flows nearby into the Mississippi. Jay Walljasper, WIRED, "The Bitter Battle to Turn an Old Factory Into a 21st Century 'Eco-Village'," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The undiagnosed condition is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins, which disrupts normal blood flow. Scott Springer, Cincinnati.com, "Ladonnis Griffin's biggest play ever at Lakota West was a GoFundMe page," 12 July 2018 In another small study of adults, one two-hour session of grounding reduced inflammation and improved blood flow. Carrie Dennett, chicagotribune.com, "Could walking barefoot on grass improve your health? Some science suggests it can.," 11 July 2018 New research from Germany’s University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein suggests wearing neckties may lower blood flow to the brain and ultimately inhibit creativity and analytical thinking. Fiza Pirani, ajc, "Men’s ties may reduce blood flow to the brain and limit work performance, study suggests," 10 July 2018 This quick workout is designed to build heat in the body and stimulate the circulatory system, which brings more blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, joints and tissue. Chloe Kernaghan, Time, "This 10-Minute Cardio Yoga Workout Will Help Make You More Flexible," 10 July 2018 Even after the ties were loosened, the participants' cerebral blood flow continued to remain diminished by an average of 5.7 percent, according to Forbes. Lisa Gutierrez, kansascity, "Hate wearing a tie to work? Study shows peril of 'socially desirable strangulation'," 9 July 2018 Decreased blood flow to the brain can create a myriad of health problems including brain ischemia, which can cause blindness, speaking impairments and unconsciousness. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Study: Your necktie could be reducing blood flow to your brain," 9 July 2018 So running, walking, elliptical, cycling — anything that’s going to improve blood flow to the uterus is going to be very helpful. Shanelle Drakeford, Allure, "How to Alleviate Period Cramps, According to Doctors," 8 July 2018 Those with end-stage heart failure, or legs without blood flow, writhe in bed, unable to find a moment of respite. Jason Han, Philly.com, "What women in crisis taught these doctors about empathy," 6 July 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

5 Oct 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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Comments on flow

What made you want to look up flow? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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