\ 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

Synonyms & Antonyms for flow

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Two of those road projects will enhance traffic flow in and out of Redstone Arsenal. Paul Gattis | Pgattis@al.com, al, 18 Sep. 2022 The complaints come as Ukrainian grain exports flow at their fastest rate since the war started. Alistair Macdonald And Karolina Jeznach, WSJ, 17 Sep. 2022 If your fire is packed too densely, air can’t flow through to drive combustion; if your fuel is packed too loosely, then the air can’t get enough power to move quickly. Sarah Wells, Popular Mechanics, 13 Sep. 2022 Letting your feelings flow today could result in some cathartic healing. Chicago Tribune, 11 Sep. 2022 Winds could gust over 60 mph as the wind flow around the storm begins to interact with the mountainous terrain of Southern California. Nouran Salahieh, CNN, 8 Sep. 2022 Elsewhere, the open concept layout allows for the dining area, gourmet chef’s kitchen and 600-bottle wine cellar to effortlessly flow into one another on the first floor. Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 7 Sep. 2022 There remains uncertainty as to exactly how much rain will fall and where, but the counterclockwise flow around the storm will steer winds from the east over much of the Southwest. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2022 City officials say the changes will make San Diego’s street sweeping more effective and efficient, which will keep more trash out of local rivers and bays, which eventually flow into the ocean. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Johnson’s visuals were stunning: pulsating, panning, expanding and contracting in concordance with the ebb and flow of the music’s dynamics and textures, conducted with invisible grace by Shift director David Allen Flowers. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Sep. 2022 This is a gray, marginal world in which life is punctuated by bursting shells and the ebb and flow of soldiers from either side. Sophie Pinkham, The New York Review of Books, 7 Sep. 2022 There will be an ebb and flow of performances during the next three months as teams grow in experience or regress due to injuries or poor play. Erick Smith, USA TODAY, 7 Sep. 2022 In a way, this is the natural ebb and flow of dating, too. WIRED, 4 Sep. 2022 The Westernizing, sometimes liberal evolution of Muslim societies has always been an ebb-and-flow affair. Reuel Marc Gerecht, WSJ, 25 Aug. 2022 This steering flow means the heaviest rainfall will probably concentrate along the eastern slopes of Southern California’s mountains. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2022 Russia has recently cut off the natural gas flow to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, and Mr. Putin threatened to extend the cutoff and add oil and refined products. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 7 Sep. 2022 The easterly flow from Kay on Friday may well produce very warm overnights for the Los Angeles coasts and valleys, the weather service in Los Angeles said. Judson Jones, CNN, 6 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

21 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Flow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flow. Accessed 26 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for flow


\ 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


intransitive verb
\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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