\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for flow

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb At the same time, cities are tweaking their parklet standards to take winter conditions into account, such as the need for sidewalk gutters to be able to flow freely during rainstorms. John King, San Francisco Chronicle, "How to make sure winter is welcoming in the time of COVID," 15 Nov. 2020 Early on there were some issues with communication at the second level and where the linebackers needed to flow to fit gaps, but that did clear up. oregonlive, "No. 11 Oregon Ducks vs. Washington State Cougars: 5 things to watch," 13 Nov. 2020 Only in the second half of the 20th century, when more grape-growers began to bottle their own wines instead of selling to large merchants, did some measure of prosperity begin to flow toward the farmers. Eric Asimov, New York Times, "How Income Inequality Has Erased Your Chance to Drink the Great Wines," 22 Oct. 2020 Germany’s financial system should prepare for increasing strains as a result of company failures and rising indebtedness, ensuring that credit will continue to flow, according to the Bundesbank. Carolynn Look, Bloomberg.com, "Bundesbank Says Banks Must Ready for Greater Crisis Strains," 13 Oct. 2020 Sensing an opportunity, private capital is beginning to flow into the arena. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "Capitalism without natural capital isn’t sustainable," 24 Sep. 2020 The outage on Friday paralyzed the ECB’s Target2 payments system, which provides the plumbing that allows money to flow across the bloc’s single market. Tom Fairless, WSJ, "Europe’s Core Payments Network Disrupted by Technical Malfunction," 28 Oct. 2020 Instead of traditional vent openings, the E14 relies on heavy perforation in the rough shape of a city skyline to allow air to flow in and out of the laptop. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Sneak Preview: MSI Summit Tiger Lake-powered business laptop," 20 Oct. 2020 Backflow prevention systems allow water to flow in only one direction. cleveland, "Beachwood to purchase backflow preventers to try to limit basement flooding," 20 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun To help with traffic flow, tickets for the Santa passes are limited to 15 an hour, Kacmarcik said. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Kapco supports toy drive with 'Christmas Wonderland,' featuring millions of lights, socially distant Santa and more," 13 Nov. 2020 Rather than trying to fight the crowd, go with the flow, and look for a way out after the other players disperse. Louryn Strampe, Wired, "17 Tips to Help You Survive Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout," 31 Oct. 2020 With the flow of information on restaurants with social media, a lot of these other things are so easily replicable. Lee Svitak Dean, Star Tribune, "Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson's new book offers perspective on the hospitality industry," 30 Oct. 2020 Rather than having solid plans for Halloween this year, loosen up and try to go with the flow. Morgan Lett, refinery29.com, "Your Halloween Horoscope Is Here," 30 Oct. 2020 That’s a tribute to the fervor with which the filmmakers—Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger—must have worked to keep up with the flow of the news. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Totally Under Control’ Review: Flunking the Covid Test," 8 Oct. 2020 But Mr Biden’s ability to go with the flow means that, at the moment, both the left and the right are anxious about the prospect of Bidenomics. The Economist, "The pragmatist Joe Biden would not remake America’s economy," 3 Oct. 2020 Sofia Vergara has been learning to go with the flow during her freshman season on America's Got Talent. Karen Mizoguchi, PEOPLE.com, "Sofia Vergara Opens Up About Simon Cowell's AGT Absence: 'I Wish He Could've Been Here'," 19 Aug. 2020 Restrooms Entry and exit points shall be clearly designated, and sufficient signage shall be in place to assist with traffic flow and promote physical distancing. Wally Hall, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | WALLY HALL: SEC game guidelines," 18 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about flow

Time Traveler for flow

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for flow

Last Updated

19 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Flow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flow. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!