from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To move or run smoothly with unbroken continuity, as in the manner characteristic of a fluid.
  • intransitive verb To issue in a stream; pour forth.
  • intransitive verb To circulate, as the blood in the body.
  • intransitive verb To move with a continual shifting of component particles.
  • intransitive verb To proceed steadily and easily.
  • intransitive verb To exhibit a smooth or graceful continuity.
  • intransitive verb To hang loosely and gracefully.
  • intransitive verb To rise. Used of the tide.
  • intransitive verb To arise; derive.
  • intransitive verb To be abundant; teem.
  • intransitive verb To move from one place to another in large numbers.
  • intransitive verb To menstruate.
  • intransitive verb To undergo plastic deformation without cracking or breaking. Used of rocks, metals, or minerals.
  • intransitive verb To release as a flow.
  • intransitive verb To cause to flow.
  • noun The act of flowing.
  • noun The smooth motion characteristic of fluids.
  • noun A stream or current.
  • noun A flood or overflow.
  • noun A residual mass that has stopped flowing.
  • noun A continuous output or outpouring.
  • noun A continuous movement or circulation.
  • noun The amount that flows in a given period of time.
  • noun The rising of the tide.
  • noun Continuity and smoothness of appearance.
  • noun A general movement or tendency.
  • noun The sequence in which operations are performed.
  • noun An apparent ease or effortlessness of performance.
  • noun Menstrual discharge.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In the differential calculus, to enlarge (or diminish) continuously, that is, by infinitesimal increments (+ or —).
  • noun The act or state of flowing; a continuous passing or transmission, as of water or other fluid; movement in or as if in a current or stream: as, a flow of blood, oil, lava, or magnetism; the volume of flow in a river.
  • noun That which flows, or results from flowing; a mass of matter moving or that has moved in a stream: as, to walk over a lava-flow.
  • noun The rise of the tide: as, the daily ebb and flow.
  • noun Any strong progressive movement, as of thought, language, trade, etc., comparable to the flow of a river; stream; current: as, a flow of eloquence; the flow of commodities toward a commercial center.
  • noun Figuratively, abundant influx or efflux; copiousness in emission, communication, or reception.
  • noun In mech., the volume of fluid which flows through a passage of any given section in a unit of time.
  • noun In ceramics, the flux used to cause color to run and blend in firing.
  • noun That part of an inclosed space, as a reservoir, along and from which a contained liquid is flowing.
  • noun A form of the obsolete preterit and past participle (flowen) of fly.
  • Cold; windy; boisterous; bleak: as, flow weather.
  • noun A marshy moor; a morass; a low-lying piece of watery land.
  • To move along, as water or other fluid, in a continuous succession or stream, by the force either of gravity or of impulse upon individual particles or parts; move in a current; stream; run: as, the river flows northward; venous blood flows from the extremities to the heart; the crowd flowed in a steady stream toward the point of attraction.
  • Hence To proceed; issue; well forth: as, wealth flows from industry and economy.
  • To abound; have or be in abundance; be full: as, flowing cups or goblets.
  • To glide smoothly, without harshness or dissonance: as, a flowing period; flowing numbers.


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

[Middle English flouen, from Old English flōwan; see pleu- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English flōwan, from Proto-Germanic *flōanan, from Proto-Indo-European *plōw-. Cognate from Proto-Indo-European (via Latin) with fluent, flux.


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  • Csikszentmihalyi. skill and challenge arrive at a flow state, otherwise boredom or anxiety would be evident

    November 13, 2010