\ 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

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

Rick Hayduk, StuyTown’s general manager, said that although the savings would flow to the management company, there could be intangible benefits for residents. Patrick Mcgeehan, New York Times, "How New York City Is Turning Its Thousands of Roofs Into Power Providers," 10 July 2019 Johnson’s Shut-Ins Johnson’s Shut-Ins, less than two hours south of Saint Louis, is a natural water park formed when the Black River flowed around ancient volcanic rock to create slides, chutes, and pools. Megan Michelson, Outside Online, "8 Places to Cool Off This Summer," 9 July 2019 By raising the revenue threshold to qualify for lower corporate tax, and by allocating Rs70,000 crore for recapitalising public sector banks—to get lending channels flowing again—the budget attempts to revive investment in the domestic economy. Rahul Menon, Quartz India, "The Modi government wants a $5 trillion economy by 2024, but has done little to back it," 8 July 2019 Condo owners can entertain in the Resident Lounge with caterer’s kitchen, which then flows to the outdoor kitchen, bar and Palm Deck with fire pit. Valerie Sweeten, Houston Chronicle, "Condo Life: Luxury high-rise lifestyle includes desired amenities," 7 July 2019 Because such sturdy machines already come with batteries, that might solve the power problem of how to get those ions flowing. Matt Simon, WIRED, "An Itty-Bitty Robot That Lifts Off Like a Sci-Fi Spaceship," 4 July 2019 The Game of Thrones star has unveiled her stunning Louis Vuitton bridal gown, with a plunging neckline, full flowing skirt, and long lace sleeves. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Sophie Turner Shares the First Look at Her Stunning Louis Vuitton Wedding Dress," 4 July 2019 The alcohol plume was around 23 miles long and was flowing between Owenton and Carrollton, the cabinet said. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "Dead fish litter Kentucky River as bourbon runoff from Jim Beam fire nears the Ohio," 3 July 2019 According to Mary Murphy, senior internal payloads manager at NanoRacks, the oven team is not sure what shape the cookies might take, because things move and flow so differently in microgravity. Chelsea Gohd, Scientific American, "The Space Station May Soon Smell like Fresh-Baked Cookies," 2 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As Mr Trump’s election showed, sympathy for migrants at the southern border ebbs and flows, but there is always demand for draconian border enforcement. The Economist, "What caused the shameful scenes at America’s southern border?," 6 July 2019 The dynamic between the two men ebbs and flows, with Bolton at times favored by Trump and at other times a source of irritation, the sources said. NBC News, "Bolton the hawk struggles to retain his influence with Trump," 3 July 2019 Bowling suggests that popular perception of an increase in shark attacks may stem more from news bias and the ebb and flow of the news cycle than the actual numbers of attacks. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Why shark attacks are more common in the Atlantic than the Pacific," 2 July 2019 Game populations ebb and flow with environmental changes and pressures. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, "Is Alaska a good place for a big-game hunter? Yes and no.," 2 July 2019 But, in truth, many of the momentary controversies (Julian Castro versus Beto O’Rourke on immigration, and an angry Bill de Blasio seemingly against the world) will prove evanescent, lost in the ebb-and-flow of a long campaign. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Miami Moonglow for Booker and Klobuchar," 27 June 2019 This feud has been nonstop for the past four months, leading to some complacency from the fan base, which was apparent during the ebb and flow of the match. Justin Barrasso, SI.com, "WWE Stomping Grounds Takeaways: Rematches Cloud Otherwise Exciting Show," 23 June 2019 Some of that might just be the normal ebb and flow of business – particularly for a sports bar when the Reds are last place in the division. Hannah Sparling, Cincinnati.com, "The John A. Roebling Bridge has been closed for nearly two months. Businesses are starting to suffer.," 11 June 2019 Archaeologists have pored over the island, because its size and demographic ebbs and flows provide fertile ground for study. Maria Petrakis, latimes.com, "Wanted: People willing to live on a beautiful, remote Greek island," 6 June 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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Statistics for flow

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

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 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

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

Comments on flow

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characterized by aphorism

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