Pronunciation Verb

flash (flashes, present participle flashing; past and past participle flashed)

  1. (transitive) To cause to shine briefly or intermittently.
    He flashed the light at the water, trying to see what made the noise.
  2. (intransitive) To blink; to shine or illuminate intermittently.
    The light flashed on and off.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter V, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326 ↗:
      Breezes blowing from beds of iris quickened her breath with their perfume; she saw the tufted lilacs sway in the wind, and the streamers of mauve-tinted wistaria swinging, all a-glisten with golden bees; she saw a crimson cardinal winging through the foliage, and amorous tanagers flashing like scarlet flames athwart the pines.
  3. To be visible briefly.
    The scenery flashed by quickly.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter VIII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 4293071 ↗, page 52 ↗:
      Here, in the transept and choir, where the service was being held, one was conscious every moment of an increasing brightness; colours glowing vividly beneath the circular chandeliers, and the rows of small lights on the choristers' desks flashed and sparkled in front of the boys' faces, deep linen collars, and red neckbands.
  4. To make visible briefly.
    A number will be flashed on the screen.
    The special agents flashed their badges as they entered the building.
    She flashed me a smile from the car window.
  5. (ambitransitive, informal) To briefly, and often unintentionally, expose one's naked body or underwear, or part of it, in public. (Contrast streak.)
    Her skirt was so short that she flashed her underpants as she was getting out of her car.
  6. (transitive, informal) To show or expose an "inappropriate" part of the body to someone for humorous reasons or as an act of contempt.
  7. (figurative) To break forth like a sudden flood of light; to show a momentary brilliance.
  8. To flaunt; to display in a showy manner.
    He flashed a wad of hundred-dollar bills.
  9. To communicate quickly.
    The news services flashed the news about the end of the war to all corners of the globe.
    to flash a message along the telephone wires;  to flash conviction on the mind
  10. To move, or cause to move, suddenly.
    Flash forward to the present day.
  11. (transitive) To telephone#Verb|telephone a person, only allowing the phone to ring once, in order to request a call back.
    Susan flashed Jessica, and then Jessica called her back, because Susan didn't have enough credit on her phone to make the call.
  12. (intransitive, of liquid) To evaporate suddenly. (See flash evaporation.)
  13. (transitive, climbing) To climb (a route) successfully on the first attempt.
  14. (transitive, computing) To write to the memory of (an updatable component such as a BIOS chip or games cartridge).
  15. (transitive, glassmaking) To cover with a thin layer, as objects of glass with glass of a different colour.
  16. (transitive, glassmaking) To expand (blown glass) into a disc.
  17. (transitive) To send by some startling or sudden means.
  18. (intransitive) To burst out into violence.
  19. (juggling) To perform a flash.
  20. (metallurgy) To release the pressure from a pressurized vessel.
  21. (transitive, obsolete) To trick up in a showy manner.
  22. (transitive, obsolete) To strike and throw up large bodies of water from the surface; to splash.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene. Disposed into Twelue Books, Fashioning XII. Morall Vertues, London: Printed for W[illiam] Ponsonbie, OCLC 18024649 ↗, book II, canto VI, stanza XLII; republished as The Faerie Queene. By Edmund Spenser. With an Exact Collation of the Two Original Editions, Published by Himself at London in Quarto; the Former Containing the First Three Books Printed in 1590, and the Latter the Six Books in 1596. To which are Now Added, a New Life of the Author, and also a Glossary. Adorn'd with Thirty-two Copper-Plates, from the Original Drawings of the late W. Kent, Esq.; Architect and Principal Painter to His Majesty, volume I, London: Printed for J. Brindley, in New Bond-Street, and S. Wright, Clerk of His Majesty's Works, at Hampton-Court, 1751, OCLC 642577152 ↗, page 316 ↗:
      The varlet ſaw, when to the flood he came, / How without ſtop or ſtay he fiercely lept, / And deep himſelfe beducked in the ſame, / That in the lake his loftie creſt was ſteept, / Ne of his ſafetie ſeemed care he kept, / But with his raging armes he rudely flaſhd / The waves about, and all his armour ſwept, / That all the bloud and filth away was waſht, / Yet ſtill he bet the water, and the billows daſht.
  • (to briefly illuminate) glint
  • (telephoning) beep
Related terms Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations
  • Russian: прозвони́ть
  • Spanish: pinchar

flash (plural flashes)

  1. A sudden, short, temporary burst of light.
  2. A very short amount of time.
  3. (colloquial, US) A flashlight; an electric torch.
    • 1939, Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, OCLC 747046957 ↗; republished London: Penguin Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-241-95628-1, page 34:
      I reached a flash out of my car pocket and went down-grade and looked at the car.
  4. (figuratively) A sudden and brilliant burst, as of genius or wit.
  5. Material left around the edge of a moulded part at the parting line of the mould.
  6. (Britain, Cockney) The strip#Noun|strips of bright cloth or buttons worn around the collars of market traders.
  7. (juggling) A pattern where each prop is thrown and catch#Verb|caught only once.
  8. (linguistics) A language, created by a minority to maintain cultural identity, that cannot be understood by the ruling class.
  9. (photography) Clipping of camera flash (“a device used to produce a flash of artificial light to help illuminate a scene”).
  10. (archaic) A preparation of capsicum, burnt sugar, etc., for colour#Verb|colouring liquor to make it look stronger.
  11. (military) A form of military insignia.
    I just got my first commando flash.
  12. Any of various lycaenid butterflies of the genera Artipe, Deudorix and Rapala.
  13. C en A tattoo flash.
  14. The sudden sensation of being "high" after taking a recreational drug.
    • 1973, United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, Proper and Improper Use of Drugs by Athletes: Hearings (page 645)
      A few seconds following the injection, the user experiences a sudden, intense generalized sensation which has both physiological and psychological characteristics. […] pure, commercially produced products do not give a good flash […]
    • 1976, Robert H. Coombs, ‎Lincoln J. Fry, ‎Patricia G. Lewis, Socialization in Drug Abuse (page 123)
      The flash — the odd combination of a cocoon-comfort and an inexplicable physical ascendency to a "high" — provides the major incentive for the new experimenter to move to the next phase of his career.
  15. (dated) A newsflash.
    • 1931, George Seldes, Can These Things Be! (volume 25, page 274)
      The United Press got the flash "Germans declare martial law in Ruhr" […]
  • (burst of light) gleam, glint
  • (material left around the edge of a mould) moulding flash, molding flash
  • (very short amount of time) aeon
Translations Translations
  • German: Blitz
  • Spanish: flash


  1. (British and New Zealand, slang) Expensive-looking and demanding attention; stylish; showy.
    • 1892, Banjo Paterson, The Man from Ironbark
      The barber man was small and flash, as barbers mostly are,
      He wore a strike-your-fancy sash, he smoked a huge cigar;
  2. (UK, of a person) Having plenty of ready money.
  3. (UK, of a person) Liable to show off expensive possessions or money.
    • 1990, House of Cards, Season 1, Episode 1:
      Bit of a flash git, don't you think?
  4. (US, slang) Occurring very rapidly, almost instantaneously.
  5. (slang, obsolete) Relating to thieves and vagabonds.
    the flash language: thieves' cant or slang
    flash notes: counterfeit banknotes
  • Russian: расфуфыренный

flash (plural flashes)

  1. A pool.
  2. (engineering) A reservoir and sluiceway beside a navigable stream, just above a shoal, so that the stream may pour in water as boats pass, and thus bear them over the shoal.

Proper noun
  1. (computing) A multimedia platform, most often used for adding animation and interactivity to webpages.
  2. (comics) Any of various DC Comics superheroes who have the power of superspeed, derived from an energy called the Speed Force.
  • French: Flash
  • Russian: Флэш

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