\ 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 Sudan money will soon be on its way to Embassy bombing victims and their families, and international investment will flow to Sudan if its policies are welcoming. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Donald Trump’s Sudan Progress," 23 Dec. 2020 Once the vaccine does begin to flow to essential workers, states will be working from the government’s master list of industry categories. Washington Post, "Major U.S. companies are lobbying in a scrum for early vaccine," 19 Dec. 2020 The emergency Fed programs that were designed this spring to enable credit to flow to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as states and municipalities, are set to expire on December 31st anyway. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "A Brazen Republican Power Play Is Blocking Essential COVID-19 Relief," 19 Dec. 2020 And the money continues to flow from investors to the same people in the same places, further entrenching the yawning geographic divide in this country. CNN, "Entrepreneurs create jobs. They deserve stimulus, too," 11 Dec. 2020 The region is being pushed by the federal government to clean up more sewage — and more thoroughly — before the watery end product can flow to the Detroit River and the Great Lakes. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Can you save money and the environment? New plan for metro Detroit sewage has that goal," 10 Dec. 2020 In 2025, the excess expected to flow to the reserve is $99 million. Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune, "U.S. Bank Stadium reserve predicted to balloon to nearly half a billion dollars by 2025," 3 Dec. 2020 Resources tend to flow from the oldest and biggest trees to the youngest and smallest. New York Times, "The Social Life of Forests," 2 Dec. 2020 The valuations of target companies then explode, too, but street-level investors, once again, are shut out of these stratospheric early gains, which flow to the same impregnable oligarchy. Rana Dasgupta, Harper's Magazine, "The Silenced Majority," 24 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar has resolved its issue of oxygen freezing in its pipes; Harbor-UCLA Medical Center is still having a problem with the flow of oxygen through its pipes. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. County hospitals are losing the battle against COVID-19 surge as problems multiply," 6 Jan. 2021 His glimmering, smart-aleck flow now sounded grizzled and spooked, toggling between slurred, super-villain threats and Old English chivalry. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "The Wondrous Rhymes of MF Doom," 5 Jan. 2021 Rose regaining his comfort would go a long way toward helping the Pistons maintain their offensive flow. Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Pistons observations from upset win over Celtics: Saddiq Bey proving he's legit," 2 Jan. 2021 With Green acting as a secondary ball-handler, the Warriors should be able to regain some of their signature flow. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "What to watch for in Draymond Green’s expected season debut with Warriors," 1 Jan. 2021 Everyone from newbies to experienced practitioners will find their flow here. Jenny Mccoy, Glamour, "21 Best YouTube Workouts for 2021," 24 Dec. 2020 In the morning you’re presented with a graph that shows your flow through the different cycles. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "Amazon Halo review: A good fitness tracker — but is it too personal?," 23 Dec. 2020 Also, sniff, in the same way that a dog might; this method of smelling increases your air flow and doubles your chances of catching anything on the breeze. Laura Kiniry, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Holiday Season, Travel with Your Nose," 23 Dec. 2020 Future really gets into a pocket with the beat and his flow on this song. Natalia Barr, WSJ, "Haim, Lindsey Buckingham and More Musicians on Their Favorite Songs of 2020," 19 Dec. 2020

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

24 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Flow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flow. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on flow

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