from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To burst forth into or as if into flame.
  • intransitive v. To give off light or be lighted in sudden or intermittent bursts.
  • intransitive v. To appear or occur suddenly: The image flashed onto the screen.
  • intransitive v. To move or proceed rapidly: The cars flashed by.
  • intransitive v. To hang up a phone line momentarily, as when using call waiting.
  • intransitive v. Slang To think of or remember something suddenly: flashed on that time we got caught in the storm.
  • intransitive v. Slang To expose oneself in an indecent manner.
  • transitive v. To cause (light) to appear suddenly or in intermittent bursts.
  • transitive v. To cause to burst into flame.
  • transitive v. To reflect (light).
  • transitive v. To cause to reflect light from (a surface).
  • transitive v. To make known or signal by flashing lights.
  • transitive v. To communicate or display at great speed: flashed the news to the world capitals.
  • transitive v. To exhibit briefly.
  • transitive v. To hang up (a phone line) momentarily, as when using call waiting.
  • transitive v. To display ostentatiously; flaunt.
  • transitive v. To fill suddenly with water.
  • transitive v. To cover with a thin protective layer.
  • n. A sudden, brief, intense display of light.
  • n. A sudden perception: a flash of insight.
  • n. A split second; an instant: I'll be on my way in a flash.
  • n. A brief news dispatch or transmission.
  • n. Slang Gaudy or ostentatious display: "The antique flash and trash of an older southern California have given way to a sleeker age of cultural hip” ( Newsweek).
  • n. A flashlight.
  • n. Instantaneous illumination for photography: photograph by flash.
  • n. A device, such as a flashbulb, flashgun, or flash lamp, used to produce such illumination.
  • n. Slang The pleasurable sensation that accompanies the use of a drug; a rush.
  • n. Obsolete The language or cant of thieves, tramps, or underworld figures.
  • adj. Happening suddenly or very quickly: flash freezing.
  • adj. Slang Ostentatious; showy: a flash car.
  • adj. Of or relating to figures of quarterly economic growth released by the government and subject to later revision.
  • adj. Of or relating to photography using instantaneous illumination.
  • adj. Of or relating to thieves, swindlers, and underworld figures.
  • idiom flash in the pan One that promises great success but fails.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To briefly illuminate a scene.
  • v. To blink; to shine or illuminate intermittently.
  • v. To be visible briefly.
  • v. To make visible briefly.
  • v. To flaunt; to display in a showy manner.
  • v. To communicate quickly.
  • v. To write to the memory of an updatable component such as a BIOS chip or games cartridge.
  • v. To expose one's naked body or underwear, or part of it, in public briefly.
  • v. To release the pressure from a pressurized vessel.
  • v. to perform a flash.
  • v. To move, or cause to move, suddenly
  • n. A sudden, short, temporary burst of light.
  • n. A language, created by a repressed minority to maintain cultural identity, that cannot be understood by the ruling class; for example, Ebonics.
  • n. A very short amount of time.
  • n. Material left around the edge of a moulded part at the parting line of the mould.
  • n. The strips of bright cloth or buttons worn around the collars of market traders.
  • n. A flashlight or electric torch.
  • n. A pattern where each prop is thrown and caught only once.
  • adj. Expensive looking and attention worthy; stylish.
  • adj. Having plenty of ready money.
  • adj. Liable to show off about expensive possessions or money.
  • adj. Occurring very rapidly, almost instantaneously.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Showy, but counterfeit; cheap, pretentious, and vulgar
  • adj. Wearing showy, counterfeit ornaments; vulgarly pretentious; ; -- applied especially to thieves, gamblers, and prostitutes that dress in a showy way and wear much cheap jewelry.
  • n. A sudden burst of light; a flood of light instantaneously appearing and disappearing; a momentary blaze.
  • n. A sudden and brilliant burst, as of wit or genius; a momentary brightness or show.
  • n. The time during which a flash is visible; an instant; a very brief period.
  • n. A preparation of capsicum, burnt sugar, etc., for coloring and giving a fictitious strength to liquors.
  • n. a lamp for providing intense momentary light to take a photograph.
  • n. Same as flashlight.
  • n. A short news item providing recently received and usually preliminary information about an event that is considered important enough to interrupt normal broadcasting or other news delivery services; also called a news flash or bulletin.
  • n. Slang or cant of thieves and prostitutes.
  • n. A pool.
  • n. 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.
  • intransitive v. To burst or break forth with a sudden and transient flood of flame and light
  • intransitive v. To break forth, as a sudden flood of light; to burst instantly and brightly on the sight; to show a momentary brilliancy; to come or pass like a flash.
  • intransitive v. To burst forth like a sudden flame; to break out violently; to rush hastily.
  • transitive v. To send out in flashes; to cause to burst forth with sudden flame or light.
  • transitive v. To convey as by a flash; to light up, as by a sudden flame or light
  • transitive v. To cover with a thin layer, as objects of glass with glass of a different color. See Flashing, n., 3 (b).
  • transitive v. To trick up in a showy manner.
  • transitive v. To strike and throw up large bodies of water from the surface; to splash.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To burst into sudden flame; specifically, to ignite and flare up with sudden and transient brilliancy; emit a bright flame for a moment: as, the flashing-point of oil; the powder flashed in the pan.
  • To burst forth with sudden brilliancy; break out in a transient or variable gleam or glitter; emit flashes; gleam: as, the lightning flashed continually.
  • To burst suddenly into view or perception; come or appear instantaneously: as, the scene flashed upon his sight; the solution of the problem flashed into his mind.
  • To burst suddenly into action; break out with sudden force or violence.
  • To come, move, or pass in a flashing manner; act as if in or by a flash: as, the dog flashed by in hot pursuit.
  • In glass-making, to expand, as blown glass, into a disk. See flashing, 1.
  • Hence, to fail after a showy or pretentious effort; act or strive without result; give up suddenly without accomplishing anything.
  • To emit or send forth in a sudden flash or flashes; cause to appear with sudden glitter.
  • To cause to flame up suddenly, as by ignition; produce a flash from.
  • To convey or send by instantaneous communication; cause to appear or be perceived suddenly or startlingly: as, to flash a message over the wires (of a telegraph).
  • To cause to appear flashy; trick up in a showy manner; streak; stripe.
  • In glass-making, to expand to a flat disk, as the blown globe or mass of glass, by revolving it in front of the furnace-mouth, which keeps it hot and ductile; hence, to apply a film of colored glass to by this process. See flashing, 1.
  • In electric lighting, to make (the carbon filament) incandescent. See flashing, 3.
  • To dash (water); sprinkle.
  • To splash; dash about, as water.
  • To increase the flow of water in; flood with water from a reservoir or otherwise, as a stream or a sewer; flush. See flashing.
  • To splash, as waves.
  • Insipid; vapid.
  • Of or pertaining to or associated with thieves, knaves, vagabonds, prostitutes, etc.: applied especially to thieves' cant or jargon.
  • Vulgarly showy or gaudy: as, a flash dress; a flash style.
  • Expert; smart; crack.
  • In photography, to cover with an exceedingly thin layer, as of metal in a plating-bath.
  • n. A sudden burst of flame or light; a light instantaneously appearing and disappearing; a gleam: as, a flash from a gun.
  • n. A sudden burst of something regarded as resembling light in its effect, as color, wit, glee, energy, passion, etc.; a short, vivid, and brilliant outburst; a momentary brightness or show.
  • n. The time occupied by a flash of light; a very short period; a transient state; an instant.
  • n. plural The hot stage of a fever.
  • n. A showy or blustering person.
  • n. A quibble; jugglery with words.
  • n. A shoot of a plant.
  • n. A preparation of capsicum, burnt sugar, etc., used for coloring brandy and rum, and giving them a factitious strength.
  • n. Hence— An unsuccessful effort or outburst; a brilliant endeavor followed by failure: said of an utterly abortive effort that has been made with much parade or confidence, of an ineffective outbreak of passion, etc.
  • n. A pool of water.
  • n. A sluice or lock on a navigable river, just above a shoal, to raise the water while craft are passing.
  • n. A body of water driven by violence.
  • n. In electricity, an accidental electric arc of short duration and great intensity.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a lamp for providing momentary light to take a photograph
  • n. a short vivid experience
  • n. a bright patch of color used for decoration or identification
  • n. a gaudy outward display
  • n. a momentary brightness
  • adj. tastelessly showy
  • v. display proudly; act ostentatiously or pretentiously
  • v. run or move very quickly or hastily
  • n. a short news announcement concerning some on-going news story
  • v. gleam or glow intermittently
  • n. a burst of light used to communicate or illuminate
  • v. expose or show briefly
  • n. a very short time (as the time it takes the eye to blink or the heart to beat)
  • v. emit a brief burst of light
  • v. protect by covering with a thin sheet of metal
  • n. a sudden intense burst of radiant energy
  • v. appear briefly
  • v. make known or cause to appear with great speed
  • n. a sudden brilliant understanding


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English flashen, to splash, variant of flasken, of imitative origin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the Middle English word flashen (to splash), a variant of flasken, which was likely of imitative origin.


  • Aye! yet something whispered that the flash carried a meaning, was, indeed, a spark from that mightier _flash of arms_ that would, ere long, blaze out at the very mention of that name.

    The Arena Volume 4, No. 21, August, 1891

  • The report of the rifle was magical in its effect upon the Basuto ponies, each rearing up on its hind legs and striking out with its forefeet; but the same punishment was meted out by the riders -- namely, a sharp tap between the ears with the barrels of the rifles -- and the result was that beyond fidgeting they stood fairly still, while _flash, flash, flash_, three more shots were fired.

    A Dash from Diamond City

  • Now the darkness was cut by a bright flash of light right in front; there was the sharp crack of a rifle, and right and left _flash, crack, flash, crack_, ran along a line.

    Charge! A Story of Briton and Boer

  • Flash Mode: flash off ,flash on,flash auto, illumination Auto

    Woot! - One Day, One Deal

  • $SID. = '& flash ='. $flash; if (is_array ($_EXTRA_URL)) $_EXTRA_URL [] = 'flash ='. $flash; else

  • Big in movement and expression it must be, depending for effect not on words but on the revealing flash; it must be the summit of the action; it must be the event toward which the entire movement has been rising; it must be the fulfillment of what was foreshadowed; it must be keen, quick, perfectly logical and _flash_ the illuminating revelation, as if one would say, "Here, this is what I've kept you waiting for -- my whole reason for being."

    Writing for Vaudeville

  • Now, when you see or hear the term "flash mob," a scary image comes to mind: a large group of black teenage boys who appear out of nowhere to commit crimes.

    Zack Isaacs: How to Stop Flash Mobs

  • JACKI LYDEN, host: You've heard the term flash mobs.

    NPR Topics: News

  • For just a second, before I remembered, my heart had leapt up when I saw his name flash on my caller ID.

    The Opposite of Me

  • Although you may be slightly confused about the reference to the term flash and perhaps think it has moving parts, flash drives have “no” moving parts.

    Flash Parts | SciFi, Fantasy & Horror Collectibles


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  • Interesting tidbits from the definitions:

    To cover with a thin layer, as objects of glass with glass of a different color.

    To expand, as blown glass, into a disk.

    A preparation of capsicum, burnt sugar, etc., used for coloring brandy and rum, and giving them a factitious strength.

    A language, created by a repressed minority to maintain cultural identity, that cannot be understood by the ruling class; for example, Ebonics.

    January 15, 2013

  • A village in Staffordshire, England.

    January 1, 2008