Definition of


  1. (noun, event) a sudden intense burst of radiant energy
  2. (noun, attribute) a momentary brightness
  3. (noun, event) a short vivid experience
    the flashings of pain were a warning
  4. (noun, cognition) a sudden brilliant understanding
  5. (noun, time) a very short time (as the time it takes the eye to blink or the heart to beat)
  6. (noun, communication) a gaudy outward display
  7. (noun, communication) a burst of light used to communicate or illuminate
  8. (noun, communication) a short news announcement concerning some on-going news story
  9. (noun, artifact) a bright patch of color used for decoration or identification
    a flash sewn on his sleeve indicated the unit he belonged to
  10. (noun, artifact) a lamp for providing momentary light to take a photograph
  11. (verb, perception) gleam or glow intermittently
  12. (verb, change) appear briefly
  13. (verb, perception) display proudly; act ostentatiously or pretentiously
  14. (verb, communication) make known or cause to appear with great speed
  15. (verb, motion) run or move very quickly or hastily
  16. (verb, perception) expose or show briefly
  17. (verb, contact) protect by covering with a thin sheet of metal
  18. (verb, change) emit a brief burst of light
  19. (adj, all) tastelessly showy
    a flashy ring
    garish colors
    a gaudy costume
    loud sport shirts
    a meretricious yet stylish book
    tawdry ornaments

via WordNet, Princeton University

Origin of the word Flash

  1. late 14c., from flasken (c.1300) "to dash or splash" (as water), probably imitative. Related: Flashed. Sense of "give off a sudden burst of light or flame" is 1540s, as is the noun. Meaning "photographic lamp" is from 1913. Flash in the pan (1809) is from old-style guns, where the powder might ignite in the pan but fail to spark the main charge. more

via Online Etymology Dictionary, ©2001 Douglas Harper

Note: If you're looking to improve your vocabulary right now, we highly recommend Ultimate Vocabulary Software.

Word of the Moment

Spurge Laurel

bushy Eurasian shrub with glossy leathery oblong leaves and yellow-green flowers