There are 2 main definitions of flat in English:

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flat 1

Syllabification: flat

adjective (flatterˈflatə(r), flattestˈflatist)

1Smooth and even; without marked lumps or indentations: a flat wall trim the surface of the cake to make it completely flat
More example sentences
  • It had a large rock central to the area with a flat surface and was bathed in sunlight that had filtered through the canopy of trees.
  • Last year a ten-metre area of flat tarmacadam-type surface was laid down at a cost of around £4,000.
  • The park, at the rear of the Memorial Hall car park, was opened earlier this year as an area of flat hard surface.
1.1(Of land) without hills: thirty-five acres of flat countryside
More example sentences
  • Flanders, in contrast, is a land of flat country and few hills.
  • The land is flat, and perhaps it's my imagination, but it appears stunted and less fertile than the hills and mountains to the north east.
  • Most of the land is flat, barren tundra where only the top few inches of the frozen earth thaw out during the summer months.
1.2(Of an expanse of water) calm and without waves.
Example sentences
  • Floating on calm, flat water, some thought that it represented human dominance over nature.
  • Most cat anglers in my experience seem to be converted carp anglers, used to fishing flat calm waters where the fish are as likely to take a boilie as a dead or livebait.
  • But now that the sun was fully out, he could see beyond the breakers, way beyond the waves to the flat water at the back.
calm, still, pacific, tranquil, glassy, undisturbed, without waves, like a millpond
1.3Not sloping: the flat roof of a garage
More example sentences
  • The older parts of the university are all built of the same plain light brown brick rising in columns, with long windows between them, and simple flat roofs.
  • The city has rebuilt the flat roofs of about 2,500 houses since 2000.
  • A leaking roof can lead to damage on ceilings and walls, so it is important to replace loose or cracked slates, and get damaged material on flat roofs repaired.
1.4Having a broad level surface but little height or depth; shallow: a flat rectangular box a flat cap
More example sentences
  • In surviving examples, the handle assumes a broad flat circular shape so that the lid could be turned over and function as a bowl or plate for the food held in the container.
  • Outside the grand clubhouse, you almost expect chaps to be wandering around in plus-fours and flat caps.
  • The tube has a flat, wide cap and is meant to be stored upright.
shallow, low-sided
1.5(Of the foot) having an arch that is lower than usual.
Example sentences
  • Most babies are born with feet that are flat, and arches grow as the child grows.
  • In some cases, hypermobility can lead to hernias, varicose veins, flat arched feet, foot ache or backache.
  • I had flat feet and could hardly touch my toes.
1.6(Of shoes) without heels or with very low heels.
Example sentences
  • An itsy-bitsy kitten heel keeps the flat shoe feeling, but give some extra lift to your step.
  • While you can get away with flat shoes during summer, opt for a slight heel for the colder months.
  • Swap your sensible flat shoes for heels, add a glittery scarf and statement jewellery.
low, low-heeled, without heels
2Lacking interest or emotion; dull and lifeless: “I’m sorry,” he said, in a flat voice her drawings were flat and unimaginative
More example sentences
  • Her voice was flat and emotionless and Ryder wanted to kick himself for making her sound like that.
  • When he did at last speak, his voice was just as flat and emotionless as his eyes.
  • Her voice was flat and emotionless as she shut her eyes again, feeling cool hands and then a damp cloth on her forehead.
2.1(Of a person) without energy; dispirited: his sense of intoxication wore off until he felt flat and weary
More example sentences
  • I came on and they were flat and tired and stressy.
  • He is normally fired up and fluent, but this time he was flat and unable to find anything fresh to say about yet another defeat.
  • At the start of the year in Adelaide and Auckland he was flat at the beginning of every match and could not get himself fired up.
without energy, enervated, sapped, weary, tired out, worn out, exhausted, drained
2.2(Of a market, prices, etc.) showing little activity; sluggish: cash flow was flat at $214 million flat sales in the drinks industry
More example sentences
  • The shop's optimism is set against other major retailers' expectations for flat trading next year.
  • Consumer spending may not look too resilient, given the flat performance of retail sales in October.
  • The company has been in a prolonged slump, with flat sales in the United States and a stock price to match.
2.3(Of a sparkling drink) having lost its effervescence: flat champagne
More example sentences
  • Some people make a big fuss about this stuff, which tastes like flat soda pop to me.
  • My father wrapped me up in his bathrobe and I got to sit up with my parents, drink flat ginger ale and watch TV.
  • Melvin waved hello to her, as he sat at the table with Bill, eating cold pizza and drinking flat soda.
2.4(Of something kept inflated, especially a tire) having lost some or all of its air, typically because of a puncture: you’ve got a flat tire
More example sentences
  • There is nothing you can do about a flat tyre but as a team we have very few mechanical problems as everything is checked thoroughly.
  • He soon trades it for a mountain bike with a flat tyre and a modest handful of small gold coins.
  • He was picked up because he was driving with a flat tyre.
deflated, punctured, burst
2.5(Of a color) uniform: the dress was a deadly, flat shade of gray
More example sentences
  • His style is stark and angular, relying heavily on the use of flat colour and silhouettes.
  • Two other monitors off to one side emit changing flat colours from their screens, and a dull but insistent techno-type soundtrack.
  • The textile is placed awkwardly on top of the table, creating areas of strong, flat colour and signalling Matisse's future as a painter.
2.6(Of a photographic print or negative) lacking contrast.
Example sentences
  • Blasting the subject with a sea of light produces flat, wishy-washy photographs.
  • This photograph was flat, with very little contrast and some noticeable scratches, dust spots, pen marks and other discolorations.
  • I have some flat negatives that really need a tonal boost.
2.7US (Of paint) without gloss; matte.
Example sentences
  • It needs to be a flat paint, which will also function as a primer, in the event I want to come back later and add a glossy finish layer on top.
  • The woodwork is probably a gloss or semi-gloss and the walls and ceiling a flat paint.
  • Kate prefers them unpainted, and has made a feature of them instead of covering them with flat paint.
3 [attributive] (Of a fee, wage, or price) the same in all cases, not varying with changed conditions or in particular cases: a $30 flat fare See also flat rate.
More example sentences
  • Future revenue would be harvested from a single-rate flat tax on wages or, better still, a stiff sales tax on consumption.
  • He cites as helpful such reforms as the launch of a flat income tax.
  • There's a flat fee, based on circulation, just to take advantage of the program.
fixed, set, regular, unchanging, unvarying, invariable
3.1(Of a denial, contradiction, or refusal) completely definite and firm; absolute: his statement was a flat denial that he had misbehaved
More example sentences
  • When I reached the desk, I got blank faces and flat refusals.
  • And there does seem to be a pretty flat contradiction between those two points.
  • As an observer, I can testify that the comments made by these powerful and successful people were in flat contradiction to the caricature.
outright, direct, absolute, definite, positive, straight, plain, explicit;
firm, resolute, adamant, assertive, emphatic, categorical, unconditional, unqualified, unequivocal
4(Of musical sound) below true or normal pitch.
Example sentences
  • Sung in a deliberately flat tone, this song is a typically acidic musical joke and for that reason it does not stand up to repeated listens.
  • I thought the performance was great but the singing was flat.
  • They can't sing, most of their notes were flat.
4.1 [postpositive, in combination] (Of a note) a semitone lower than a specified note: the double basses' opening low E-flat you never have to change key from B-flat major
More example sentences
  • We played the Schubert B flat Trio and the Tchaikovsky.
  • For example, the coda of the great Schubert B flat sonata was played at a breakneck pace and was technically perfect.
  • The concert opened with a riveting account of Haydn's late E flat Sonata.
4.2(Of a key) having a flat or flats in the signature.
Example sentences
  • As with the sharp key signatures, there is an easy way to determine the key of a particular flat key signature.
  • Without moving up or down the fingerboard more than one fret, you should be able to pick out each successive sharp or flat key and play that Major scale.
5 (Flat) Of or relating to flat racing: the Flat season
More example sentences
  • As promised, since it's that time of year, here are my Ten To Follow for the Flat season ahead.
  • The Flat season had just ended and he was going to make the most of it.
  • Ayr Racecourse will host its first Ladies' Night of the Flat season on Thursday when Regional Racing will also make its Scottish debut.


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1In or to a horizontal position: he was lying flat on his back she had been knocked flat by the blast
More example sentences
  • Clambering up the west ridge, I got knocked flat a dozen times.
  • Aaron let out a yelp of surprise and I fell flat on my back.
  • I tried to do a flip and fell flat on my back with a thud.
stretched out, outstretched, spread-eagle, sprawling, prone, supine, prostrate, recumbent
1.1Lying in close juxtaposition, especially against another surface: his black curly hair was blown flat across his skull
More example sentences
  • But she captured me, pulling me close, her palms flat against my back.
  • Hold your thighs flat against the padded surface and slowly begin to curl your lower legs up as far as possible.
  • Buffy stood still looking straight at the wall, palms flat against it.
1.2So as to become smooth and even: I hammered the metal flat
More example sentences
  • Cover your sand form with sheets of wet newspaper to keep the mud walls from sticking to the sand form, smoothing the sheets flat.
  • He takes a slow deep breath, and smoothes flat a piece of paper.
  • I am also a vegetarian and attempt to relocate spiders rather than squashing them flat.
2 informal Completely; absolutely: I’m turning you down flat [as submodifier]: she was going to be flat broke in a couple of days
More example sentences
  • He wanted to go south, but his van was unreliable and he was flat broke.
  • In fact, as Kwan readies himself for the fight, dubbed May Day Mayhem, he is flat broke.
  • Their credibility is in shreds and they are flat broke, but they still have one very saleable asset - notoriety.
outright, absolutely, firmly, resolutely, adamantly, emphatically, insistently, categorically, unconditionally, unequivocally
2.1After a phrase expressing a period of time to emphasize how quickly something can be done or has been done: you can prepare a healthy meal in ten minutes flat
More example sentences
  • Bookshops this Christmas are piled high with short novelty volumes knocked off by their authors in a couple of hours flat.
  • Soon I could knock off a set in about 20 minutes flat, including cleaning up.
  • It shot into the charts at number 10, unheard of in those days, but stalled well short of the expected number 1 slot and vanished from the charts in six weeks flat.
3Below the true or normal pitch of musical sound: it wasn’t a question of singing flat, but of simply singing the wrong notes
More example sentences
  • If you have to hit a high note or you hear yourself singing flat, raise your arms a little higher and smile.
  • You need to get a better instrument, or you will have to live with playing flat all the time.


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1 [in singular] The flat part of something: she placed the flat of her hand over her glass
More example sentences
  • He was constantly hitting Adrian's side with the flat of his blade.
  • She slapped his side with the flat of her blade, calmly adding injury to insult before walking away.
  • As soon as their swords parted, he struck him in the side with the flat of his blade.
2A flat object, in particular.
2.1 (often flats) An upright section of painted stage scenery mounted on a frame.
Example sentences
  • Banks of paintings can be pulled out, like stage flats.
  • You open and close the curtain, set up the flats and backdrops, and check to make sure that everything is going right backstage.
  • The set is made up solely of movable sea-blue coloured flats, so to speak the empty hull of a baroque stage apparatus.
2.2 informal, chiefly North American A flat tire.
Example sentences
  • When emerging from the club, my back tire got a flat.
  • And usually when one tire blows out, the tire adjacent to the flat can blowout easily from the increased pressure.
  • The reason for this is if you get a flat in that tire, you will have to take the whole track off to change the tire.
2.3North American A shallow container in which seedlings are grown and sold.
Example sentences
  • A few weeks later, Gavin returned with a flat of castor bean seedlings.
  • I finally reached the conclusion that the easiest way to get broccoli and cabbage seedlings started was to grow them in a small flat.
  • Most plants can be set slightly deeper than they were growing in the germination flat.
2.4 (often flats) A shoe with a very low heel or no heel.
Example sentences
  • For years, the ballerina flat was the shoe of choice to wear with cropped pants.
  • Try a ballerina flat, or an open mule with a smartly shaped heel.
  • A moccasin is the must-have shoe in a stylish high-heel or casual flat.
2.5A railroad car with a flat floor and no sides or roof; a flatcar.
3 (usually flats) An area of low level ground, especially near water: the Utah salt flats See also mudflat.
More example sentences
  • They were scattered over a mile area and unreachable because of water channels in the flats.
  • This encourages clam spat to settle out in areas of the flats currently devoid of clam stocks.
  • Many surface flows, supplied mainly from leaks in the ocean entry tubes, are also observed in the coastal flats near the ocean.
tidal flats, mud flats, tideland, intertidal area
4A musical note lowered a semitone below natural pitch.
Example sentences
  • The two flats cancel out the one given sharp, leaving one flat remaining - the resulting key, the one we need to play in, is F.
  • The flats and sharps are placed on the printed page accordingly.
  • His scale organizes the notes into octaves, with sharps and flats in between.
4.1The sign ♭, indicating a flat.

verb (flats, flatting, flatted)

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1 (usually as adjective flatted) Music , North American Lower (a note) by a semitone: “blue” harmony emphasizing the flatted third and seventh
More example sentences
  • One piece includes blues-like flatted thirds written as D-sharps and a few later pieces involve E-flat and B-flat accidentals that suggest dominant seventh harmony.
  • I saw that life was not like books at all, but more like headlines-barroom brawls, a blues song sung with flatted notes.
  • All this Taylor achieves with subtle elisions and slides and what are often the most fleeting of flatted notes.
2 archaic Make flat; flatten: flat the loaves down
More example sentences
  • Lay them off on buttered tins, about the size of walnuts, flat them down, and bake them in a slow oven.
  • Now that the main design was completed it was time to add several coats of clear so I could flat them down and get rid of any raised edges.


fall flat

Fail completely to produce the intended or expected effect: his jokes fell flat
More example sentences
  • However, the script fails him by falling flat in the moments where you expect the most to be delivered.
  • He perfected an air of modesty and if his jokes fell flat he had a comical line in self-deprecation.
  • The eerie silence made him look, at moments, like a stand-up comic whose jokes were falling flat; but of course this was no laughing matter.

fall flat on one's face

Fall over forward.
Example sentences
  • I feel myself leaning forward and fall flat on my face.
  • Julian chose that exact moment to move forward and wave to Mike, causing me to almost fall flat on my face.
  • She leans forward so far I'm surprised she doesn't fall flat on her face.
2.1Fail in an embarrassingly obvious way: the president could fall flat on his face if the economy doesn’t start improving soon
More example sentences
  • Moreover, the exam was a very poor predictor of success, as many apparent failures went on to do very well while those early high fliers fell flat on their face.
  • People from many other nationalities, including some from Scotland, Ireland and Wales, have been desperate for the day when he falls flat on his face.
  • And, if by some miracle, he falls flat on his face during the debates and the party needs a new leader, I've got the perfect candidate.

(as) flat as a pancake


flat out

1As fast or as hard as possible: the whole team is working flat out to satisfy demand (as adjective flat-out) the album lacks the flat-out urgency of its predecessor
More example sentences
  • The National Trust's property and forestry teams are now working flat out and have been all over the weekend to try and clear the debris and make safe the damage, as far as is possible, as more gales and rain are forecast.
  • We'll have a ten-strong team working flat out for four weeks from July.
  • But, is it too much to expect both teams to go flat out to win?
2 informal, chiefly North American Without hesitation or reservation; unequivocally: in those early days I’d just flat out vote against foreign aid (as adjective flat-out) flat-out perjury
More example sentences
  • Alana told me flat out that she's voting for Jessica.
  • He has been totally objective and even flat out rejected some of the sample devices.
  • He says flat out that he's not going to vote for the president's bill.
hard, as hard as possible, for all one's worth, to the limit, all out;
at full speed, as fast as possible, at full tilt, full bore, full throttle, in high gear
informallike crazy, like mad, like the wind, firing on all cylinders, like a bat out of hell
3Lying completely stretched out, especially asleep or exhausted: she was lying flat out on her pink bath towel
More example sentences
  • Not only did he photograph battleships and the fleet at sea, but he also turned his camera at everyday life on board, recording members of the crew at work, the ship's dog, and even an exhausted sailor flat out asleep on deck.
  • A clash of heads left one player lying flat out on the pitch.
  • A friend drove him - lying flat out on the back seat of a Range Rover to avoid photographers - from the house in Didsbury.

that's flat

informal Used to indicate that one has reached a decision and will not be persuaded to change one’s mind: he won’t go into a home and that’s flat
More example sentences
  • I won't, and that's flat. I'm not getting rid of him.
  • I'm not coming, and that's flat.
  • That's our final offer and that's flat.



Pronunciation: /ˈflatiSH/
Example sentences
  • Garden designs all seem to be for flattish gardens.
  • If you plot a graph showing this kind of distribution you get a sharp peak on the left of the graph and a long flattish line tailing off to the right.
  • Take a small portion at a time and shape into a small flattish ball.


Middle English: from Old Norse flatr; related to plant, platy-, plaza.

  • Flat in the sense ‘smooth and even’ is from Old Norse flatr. Flatline came into use in the 1980s for ‘to die’, from the continuous straight line displayed on a heart monitor when a heart stops beating. Flat meaning ‘apartment is from the early 19th century and related to the first flat. It originally meant a storey of a building and is an alteration of the obsolete Germanic word flet ‘floor, dwelling’.

Words that rhyme with flat

at, bat, brat, cat, chat, cravat, drat, expat, fat, frat, gat, gnat, hat, hereat, high-hat, howzat, lat, mat, matt, matte, Montserrat, Nat, outsat, pat, pit-a-pat, plait, plat, prat, Rabat, rat, rat-tat, Sadat, sat, scat, Sebat, shabbat, shat, skat, slat, spat, splat, sprat, stat, Surat, tat, that, thereat, tit-for-tat, vat, whereat

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There are 2 main definitions of flat in English:

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flat 2 Syllabification: flat


British term for apartment.
Example sentences
  • The developer wants to convert the 100-year-old building into eight flats, two town houses and two starter homes.
  • These range from one bed room flats to five bedroom houses, with 44 affordable homes and 30 low cost starter homes.
  • A brave neighbour ran into a smoke-logged block of flats to wake residents after one of the apartments caught fire.



Pronunciation: /ˈflatlət/
Example sentences
  • An application has been lodged to turn a derelict printworks on Clare Street into six self-supported flatlets for 16 and 17 year-old boys who have recently left care or have problems living alone.
  • The revamped premises, incorporating 40 flatlets and a brand new crèche, were opened by the then mayor, Derek Burke, in May 2000.
  • Some hostels are to be converted into flatlets accommodating two to six people.


Early 19th century (denoting a floor or story): alteration of obsolete flet 'floor, dwelling', of Germanic origin and related to flat1.

  • Flat in the sense ‘smooth and even’ is from Old Norse flatr. Flatline came into use in the 1980s for ‘to die’, from the continuous straight line displayed on a heart monitor when a heart stops beating. Flat meaning ‘apartment is from the early 19th century and related to the first flat. It originally meant a storey of a building and is an alteration of the obsolete Germanic word flet ‘floor, dwelling’.

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