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A man photographing himself in a mirror using a camera flash, creating a bright flash of light


Etymology 1[edit]

In some senses, from Middle English flasshen, a variant of flasken, flaskien ‎(to sprinkle, splash), which was likely of imitative origin; in other senses probably of North Germanic origin akin to Swedish dialectal flasa ‎(to burn brightly, blaze), related to flare.


flash ‎(third-person singular simple present flashes, present participle flashing, simple past and past participle flashed)

  1. To briefly illuminate a scene.
    He flashed the light at the water, trying to see what made the noise.
  2. To blink; to shine or illuminate intermittently.
    The light flashed on and off.
    • 1907, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, “chapter V”, in The Younger Set (Project Gutenberg; EBook #14852), New York, N.Y.: A. L. Burt Company, published 1 February 2005 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 4241346:
      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 5, in The Mirror and the Lamp, London; New York, N.Y.: Cassell & Co., OCLC 4293073, OL 1097634W:
      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.
  5. (transitive, intransitive, informal) To briefly, and in most cases inadvertently, 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. (figuratively) To break forth like a sudden flood of light; to show a momentary brilliance.
    • 1845, Thomas [Noon] Talfourd, Report of the Proceedings Connected with the Grant Soirée of the Manchester Athenæum, Held on Thursday, October 23rd, 1845. From the Manchester Guardian of Saturday, October 25th, 1845. Printed for the Directors, Manchester: Cave and Sever, Printers, 18, St. Ann's Street, OCLC 263688495, page 16:
      For although party's worn-out moulds have been shivered, and names which have flashed and thundered as the watchwords of unnumbered struggles for power are now fast waning into history, it is too much to hope, perhaps to desire, until the education of mankind shall more nearly approach its completion, that strong differences of opinion and feeling should cease to agitate the scenes on which freemen are called to discharge political duties.
    • 1851, Alfred Tennyson, “The Princess: A Medley”, in Poems by Alfred Tennyson. In Two Volumes, volume II, new edition, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, page 163:
      But while he jested thus, / A thought flashed through me, which I clothed in act. / Remembering how we three presented Maid, / Or Nymph, or Goddess, at high tide of feast, / In masque or pageant at my father's court.
    • 1856, Matthew Arnold, “Preface”, in Poems, new and complete edition, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor and Fields, OCLC 2859714, page 20:
      The Isabella [Isabella, or the Pot of Basil], then, is a perfect treasure-house of graceful and felicitous words and images: almost in every stanza there occurs one of those vivid and picturesque turns of expression, by which the object is made to flash upon the eye of the mind, and which thrill the reader with a sudden delight.
  7. To flaunt; to display in a showy manner.
    He flashed a wad of hundred-dollar bills.
  8. 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
  9. To move, or cause to move, suddenly.
    Flash forward to the present day.
    • 2011 January 11, Jonathan Stevenson, “West Ham 2 – 1 Birmingham”, in BBC Sport[1], archived from the original on 18 March 2016:
      But they survived some real pressure as David Murphy flashed a header inches wide of Rob Green's right-hand post [].
  10. (transitive) To 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.
  11. (intransitive, of liquid) To evaporate suddenly. (See flash evaporation.)
  12. (transitive, climbing) To climb (a route) successfully on the first attempt.
  13. (computing) To write to the memory of an updatable component such as a BIOS chip or games cartridge.
  14. (glassmaking) To cover with a thin layer, as objects of glass with glass of a different colour.
  15. (juggling) To perform a flash.
  16. (metallurgy) To release the pressure from a pressurized vessel.
  17. (transitive, obsolete) To trick up in a showy manner.
  18. (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
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flash ‎(plural flashes)

  1. A sudden, short, temporary burst of light.
  2. (figuratively) A sudden and brilliant burst, as of wit or genius.
    • Shakespeare
      the flash and outbreak of a fiery mind
    • Wirt
      No striking sentiment, no flash of fancy.
  3. (linguistics) A language, created by a minority to maintain cultural identity, that cannot be understood by the ruling class; for example, Ebonics.
  4. A very short amount of time.
    • Francis Bacon
      The Persians and Macedonians had it for a flash.
    • 1876, Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,
      Quick—something must be done! done in a flash, too! But the very imminence of the emergency paralyzed his invention.
    • 2011, Phil McNulty, Euro 2012: Montenegro 2-2 England [2]
      Fabio Capello insisted Rooney was in the right frame of mind to play in stormy Podgorica despite his father's arrest on Thursday in a probe into alleged betting irregularities, but his flash of temper - when he kicked out at Miodrag Dzudovic - suggested otherwise.
  5. Material left around the edge of a moulded part at the parting line of the mould.
  6. (Cockney) The strips of bright cloth or buttons worn around the collars of market traders.
  7. (US, colloquial) A flashlight or electric torch.
    • 1939, Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, Penguin 2011, p. 34:
      I reached a flash out of my car pocket and went down-grade and looked at the car.
  8. A light used for photography - a shortened form of camera flash.
  9. (juggling) A pattern where each prop is thrown and caught only once.
  10. (archaic) A preparation of capsicum, burnt sugar, etc., for colouring liquor to make it look stronger.
  • (sudden, short, temporary burst of light): gleam, glint
  • (material left around the edge of a mould): moulding flash, molding flash
  • (very short amount of time): aeon
  • (sudden, short, temporary burst of light): light
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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


flash ‎(comparative more flash, superlative most flash)

  1. (Britain 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. (Britain, of a person) Having plenty of ready money.
  3. (Britain, of a person) Liable to show off expensive possessions or money.
  4. (US, slang) Occurring very rapidly, almost instantaneously.


Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English flasche, flaske; compare Old French flache, French flaque, which is of Germanic origin, akin to Middle Dutch vlacke ‎(an estuary, flats with stagnant pools).


flash ‎(plural flashes)

  1. A pool.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Halliwell to this entry?)
  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.
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From English


flash m ‎(plural flashs)

  1. flash (burst of light)
  2. (photography) flash
  3. newsflash
  4. (juggling) flash

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flash m ‎(plural flashes)

  1. (photography) flash