There are 2 main definitions of flash in English:

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flash 1

Line breaks: flash


1 [no object] Shine in a bright but brief, sudden, or intermittent way: lightning flashed overhead an irritating neon sign flashed on and off (as adjective flashing) a police car with a flashing light
More example sentences
  • I looked up at the bright green neon sign flashing on and off, ‘Club Divine’ it read.
  • A sudden burst of bright green light flashed behind the tree.
  • The ship whisked into the night's sky, its bright lights flashing.
1.1 [with object] Cause to shine briefly or suddenly: the oncoming car flashed its lights
More example sentences
  • The driver was alerted to on-coming cars flashing their lights at him.
  • The police car flashed his lights briefly at a car that touched 90 or so, but that was about it.
  • The car behind me started flashing its lights, and turned on its siren.
1.2 [with object] Shine or show a light to send (a signal): red lights started to flash a warning
More example sentences
  • The automobile in front of them flashed a warning signal of red to tell of slowing, and he eased up on the gas as he headed further into the dark city.
  • They want to install a system which will flash a warning signal in the cab of the train if it passes through a red light.
  • He lit the lamp he carried, and flashed an agreed signal to the other three men waiting in one of the canoes a short distance away.
1.3 [with object] Give (a swift look): Carrie flashed a glance in his direction [with two objects]: she flashed him a withering look
More example sentences
  • Brown flashed a knowing look into the gallery, and a few people, for want of a better word, tittered.
  • He flashed a stern look towards the nurse.
  • I flashed a look of gratitude at Noelle, and she nodded coolly.
1.4(Of a person’s eyes) indicate sudden emotion, especially anger: she glared at him, her eyes flashing
More example sentences
  • ‘Jordan isn't going to make me miserable,’ Faith argued, her eyes flashing with anger.
  • ‘Get the hell away from me Corey - right now’ Hailey said, her eyes flashing with anger.
  • His eyes were flashing with anger, but they softened.
2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Move or pass very quickly: a look of terror flashed across Kirov’s face figurative a sudden thought flashed through his mind
More example sentences
  • Eventually, I became aware that the streetlights were not flashing by as quickly as they had been.
  • The altimeter was counting down, the final couple of hundred feet flashing by too quickly.
  • The time flashed by so quickly for the rest of the trip.
informal scoot, skedaddle, belt, zap, zip, scorch
British informal bomb, bucket, burn rubber, go like the clappers
North American informal barrel, lay rubber
2.1 [with object and adverbial of direction] Send (news or information) swiftly by means of telegraphy or telecommunications: the story was flashed around the world
More example sentences
  • Images of the shooting - videotaped by TV crews covering the march - were flashed around the world.
  • This news had earlier been flashed to the world via the BBC website.
  • However, the whole incident was flashed around to other bases, telling everyone to behave themselves.
3 [with object] Display (information or an image) suddenly on a television or computer screen or electronic sign, typically briefly or repeatedly: the screen flashed up a menu
More example sentences
  • As he crossed the finishing line his image was flashed up on the large screens.
  • Your computer screen is flashing an unwelcome message.
  • The giant white screen flashed images of people in the streets mourning Corrie's death.
display, show, present, set forth, unveil
3.1 [no object] (Of information or an image) be displayed briefly or repeatedly on a screen: the election results flashed on the screen
More example sentences
  • I smiled and sat back watching as several images flashed across the screen, Matt still grunting in annoyance at not having found his desired station to watch.
  • He raised a scowl as his image flashed across the big screen.
  • A crackling image flashed onto the screen, lines of static and interference scrolled up and down the message.
3.2 informal Hold up or show (something, often proof of one’s identity) quickly before replacing it: she opened her purse and flashed her ID card
More example sentences
  • Ralphie responded quickly as he flashed them his press card.
  • Just then another passenger rose from his seat and flashed a small plastic card at the warring parties.
  • Jonathan flashed his ID, and the guards motioned the car through.
3.3 informal Make a conspicuous display of (something) so as to impress or attract attention: they flashed huge wads of money about
More example sentences
  • You should take their money if they are flashing it round.
  • They hate to see somebody flashing the money around like that.
  • He had a habit of flashing the wads of cash his benevolent son sent home to him.
3.4 [no object] informal (Of a man) show one’s genitals briefly in public.
Example sentences
  • Believing a man had flashed at his girlfriend, he drove at him, jamming him against a wall.
  • A mother has warned other residents to be on their guard after a man flashed her 12-year-old daughter.
  • A bit later she was waving at me, and when I glanced over she flashed me again - and she'd taken her bra off!
expose oneself, show/display/reveal one's genitals, commit indecent exposure


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1A sudden brief burst of bright light: a flash of lightning
More example sentences
  • At this a loud crash was heard behind them followed by a bright flash of lightning, lighting up the forest briefly.
  • As she was strolling down the final row, a sudden flash of bright light caught her attention.
  • Large flashes of light occasionally burst forth from the opening of a cave leading into the opposing mountain range.
flare, blaze, burst, glare, pulse, blast;
beam, shaft, ray, streak, bar, finger, stream
1.1A patch or sudden display of a bright colour: the woodpecker swooped from tree to tree with a flash of yellow, green, and red
More example sentences
  • Soft pastels, worn underneath jackets or blazers, will be popular, along with cream, and teamed with flashes of bright colour.
  • The glints of orange fish scales and the gleam of a metallic beetle are some of the few flashes of colour in a predominantly monochromatic palette.
  • The strategic placement of bold panels of colour allows unexpected flashes throughout the hair, dramatizing the movement and lines of each cut and style.
1.2British A coloured patch of cloth on a uniform used as the distinguishing emblem of a regiment, formation, or country: a short man with the black flashes of the tank units
More example sentences
  • Later on that year the cloth patch was replaced by a black flash and a solid gold metal Winged Dagger emblem on top of it.
  • I ended up buying the kilt itself, a black leather sporran, some black hose, and black flashes.
  • He recognised the flashes on the uniform of the young soldier standing beside him. They indicated service in Cyprus.
emblem, insignia, badge, marking;
patch, bright patch, streak, stripe, bar, chevron
1.3A coloured band on the packaging of a product used to catch the consumer’s eye: on-pack flashes offer a free ‘Taste of the Caribbean’
More example sentences
  • In response to your query about the Scalextric ‘go-faster’ range, I think they were called ‘Race Tuned’, and carried flashes on their sides to that effect.
  • Be watchful for later jackets on the Booker winner with flashes advertising the prize.
1.4A pre-drawn design for a tattoo.
Example sentences
  • We offer the best print quality tattoo flash from extremely talented and award winning artists.
  • The tattoo artist creates flash in themed sets.
  • Hand-drawn, local tattoo flash has largely been replaced by professional ‘flash artists’ who produce prints of copyrighted flash and sell them at conventions or through the Internet.
2A sudden or brief manifestation or occurrence of something: she had a flash of inspiration
More example sentences
  • His films, as a result, are often repulsive; yet they contain the occasional flash of genius that may redeem the more unpalatable aspects of his work.
  • Paul is manic and edgy on stage, with the occasional flash of surreal genius.
  • I won't say there was a sudden flash of insight but dimly I was becoming aware that there are lots of things to see if you take the time to look.
burst, outbreak, outburst, wave, rush, surge, stab, flush, blaze;
sudden show, brief display/exhibition
2.1A newsflash.
Example sentences
  • When at last the news agency flash came of the Nazi capitulation on May 7, 1945, the Manchester Eveneing News was ready.
  • I was in a of a press association this afternoon when the flash came in.
3A camera attachment that produces a brief very bright light, used for taking photographs in poor light: an electronic flash [mass noun]: if in any doubt use flash
More example sentences
  • Pulling out her camera and attaching the flash, she climbs out of the car and moves past the barricade.
  • The phone also is equipped with a camera featuring an attachable flash.
  • He finds Gilbert, and they spot Keaton, who is using the flash on her digital camera as a flashlight.
4 (Flash) [mass noun] Computing ( trademark in the US) A platform for producing and displaying animation and video in web browsers.
Example sentences
  • We still do a lot of personal research and development work with Flash and our websites are really popular.
  • You'll need Flash and QuickTime to view all the extras buried in these online presentations.
  • The same brains that created the Internet have clearly mastered Flash as well.
5 [mass noun] informal Ostentatious stylishness or display of wealth: workwear represents a move away from Eighties designer flash
More example sentences
  • The dark glasses add color and flash to the scene.
  • Located in the heart of West Palm Beach, it's a moneyed, up-market environment, big on designer flash and not short on pose and pretension.
  • We've all witnessed presentations that were high on flash and flare, and low on content.
6 [mass noun] Excess plastic or metal forced between facing surfaces as two halves of a mould close up, forming a thin projection on the finished object: flap wheels are ideal for grinding off fibreglass flash
More example sentences
  • A rotary file in an electric drill motor is the perfect tool for grinding off flash.
  • The trailing edge smoothed out well and the excess plastic flash just fell off.
  • Also, when trimming the plates from the sprues, make sure you trim the flash from the bottom of the recessed tab to let the courses sit level.
7A rush of water, especially down a weir to take a boat over shallows.
Example sentences
  • They often stood there for days until the miller felt able to let down flashes of water to enable them to float over the shallows.
  • In dry seasons when there was little flow of fresh water, flashes had to be provided.


informal, chiefly British Back to top  
1Ostentatiously stylish or expensive: a flash new car
More example sentences
  • It is simply the case that in this world of convenience, flash holidays and big cars, working the land has lost its appeal.
  • But the plan backfired when the driver couldn't get the flash car to start as they left the restaurant - leaving the couple at the mercy of the paparazzi.
  • This means that in a high-consumption society such as ours, when I buy a flash car or suit, I throw down the gauntlet to others to do likewise.
1.1Ostentatiously displaying one’s wealth: he’s a bit flash and refers to his gold card a few times too many
More example sentences
  • They are big brash symbols of conspicuous consumption, a way for flash men and women with a lot of cash to flaunt their wealth.
  • Nicky Cole is a flash geezer from the South, but Yates is a flash geezer from the North.
  • It was a flash crowd, and soon our roofless concrete barn was packed with wet bodies, dancing under sheets of hard rain and the intermittent flashes of lightning.
2 archaic Relating to the language used by criminals or prostitutes.
Example sentences
  • This is the story of an extraordinary quest by two women - one the wife of a journalist, and the other a young girl who had been sold to a flash house when she was just 10 years old.
  • Many British navy and army officers hated the 'flash language' used by convicts.
  • Notwithstanding the editor's condescension toward these ‘second-rate’ men, he recognizes the opportunity flash language provided for disguised communication.


flash in the pan
A thing or person whose sudden but brief success is not repeated or repeatable: our start to the season was just a flash in the pan
[With allusion to priming of a firearm, the flash arising from an explosion of gunpowder within the lock]
More example sentences
  • And his form so far this season has proved that his success last year was no flash in the pan.
  • It is not a flash in the pan but something that's been maintained over a long period.
  • Organising a music festival in India and battling the Indian bureaucracy was not exactly an easy affair for this group, but they seem confident about making this more than just a flash in the pan.
in (or like) a flash
Very quickly; immediately: she was out of the back door in a flash
More example sentences
  • I closed the door quickly and like a flash I was at the table filling my bag with the money once again.
  • They will sit on your rear bumper until they get a little bit of a straight road and then they are past you like a flash.
  • He was on to it like a flash, racing into the penalty area.
quickly, rapidly, swiftly, speedily, without delay;
in an instant, in a moment, in a (split) second, in a minute, in a trice, like a shot, straight away, in a wink, in the blink of an eye, in the twinkling of an eye, in two shakes (of a lamb's tail), before you know it, on the double, at the speed of light, like an arrow from a bow
informal in a jiffy, before you can say Jack Robinson, double quick, in double quick time, p.d.q. (pretty damn quick), like (greased) lightning, at warp speed
(as) quick as a flash
(Especially of a person’s response or reaction) very quickly: quick as a flash he was at her side
More example sentences
  • ‘You saved the best till last,’ replies the candidate, quick as a flash.
  • As quick as a flash, his eyes darted to Stevie, and he said: ‘Does that mean we have to call you Gerry now?’
  • She reveals she buys all her own clothes for work, ‘although I never pay full price,’ she adds, quick as a flash.

Phrasal verbs

flash over
Make an electric circuit by sparking across a gap.
Example sentences
  • The theory here is that the primer flashes over the small powder charge and causes it to detonate.
  • An arc then flashes over between these electrodes 24 and 13, giving rise to ionization and pressurization.
  • If the voltage is high enough, the insulator flashes over causing a short circuit of the system.
1.1(Of a fire) spread instantly across a gap because of intense heat.
Example sentences
  • Once the fire flashed over the side station, it quickly enveloped the deli restaurant, feeding on the combustible interior finishes and furnishings.
  • At about 4 p.m., the fire ‘flashed over’ and the buildings erupted in a mass of flame, trapping some staff on upper floors.
  • When the driver lifted the engine cover he provided the oxygen that was lacking and the fire ‘flashed over’ and spread quickly through the bus.


Middle English (in the sense 'splash water about'): probably imitative; compare with flush1 and splash.

  • We think of flash in terms of fire and light, but in the Middle Ages it originally meant ‘splash water about’, and like plash (early 16th century) and splash (mid 18th century) probably came from the sound of the word. The association with fire may have developed from the resemblance of the word to flame ( see flagrant). The idea of ‘ostentatious stylishness or display of wealth’ goes back to the 17th century. When calling a sudden, brief success a flash in the pan we are referring to early firearms. Sometimes the gunpowder would burn fiercely but ineffectually in the ‘pan’, the part that held the priming charge, without igniting the main charge. The result was a flash and some smoke, but the gun did not fire—what Shakespeare in Macbeth called ‘sound and fury signifying nothing’.

Words that rhyme with flash

abash, ash, Ashe, bash, brash, cache, calash, cash, clash, crash, dash, encash, gnash, hash, lash, mash, Nash, panache, pash, plash, rash, sash, slash, smash, soutache, splash, stash, thrash, trash
Definition of flash in:
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There are 2 main definitions of flash in English:

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flash 2 Line breaks: flash


A water-filled hollow formed by subsidence, especially any of those due to rock salt extraction in or near Cheshire: sandpits and flashes also attract visiting birds
More example sentences
  • There was then a report of a flamingo at Neuman's Flash - a salt flash near Northwich in Cheshire.
  • The flash, or lake, is the result of mining subsidence in 1924 and a disused railway still runs through the woodland.
  • Pennington Flash Country Park, centred on a large lake or ‘flash’ formed by mining subsidence, now provides some of the best sailing and bird-watching facilities in the region.


Middle English (in the sense 'a marshy place'): from Old French flache, variant of Picard and Norman dialect flaque, from Middle Dutch vlacke. The current sense dates from the late 19th century.

  • We think of flash in terms of fire and light, but in the Middle Ages it originally meant ‘splash water about’, and like plash (early 16th century) and splash (mid 18th century) probably came from the sound of the word. The association with fire may have developed from the resemblance of the word to flame ( see flagrant). The idea of ‘ostentatious stylishness or display of wealth’ goes back to the 17th century. When calling a sudden, brief success a flash in the pan we are referring to early firearms. Sometimes the gunpowder would burn fiercely but ineffectually in the ‘pan’, the part that held the priming charge, without igniting the main charge. The result was a flash and some smoke, but the gun did not fire—what Shakespeare in Macbeth called ‘sound and fury signifying nothing’.

Definition of flash in:
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