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From Middle English floryschen, from Old French floriss-, stem of some conjugated forms of florir (compare French fleurir), from Vulgar Latin *florīre, from Latin flōreō (I bloom) (and conjugation partly from flōrēscō), from flōs (flower). See flower + -ish.



flourish (third-person singular simple present flourishes, present participle flourishing, simple past and past participle flourished)

  1. (intransitive) To thrive or grow well.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      'Twas early June, the new grass was flourishing everywheres, the posies in the yard—peonies and such—in full bloom, the sun was shining, and the water of the bay was blue, with light green streaks where the shoal showed.
    The barley flourished in the warm weather.
  2. (intransitive) To prosper or fare well.
    The town flourished with the coming of the railway.
    The cooperation flourished as the customers rushed in the business.
    • Nelson
      Bad men as frequently prosper and flourish, and that by the means of their wickedness.
    • 1792, Anthony à Wood, The History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford: In Two Books[1], volume 1, Oxford: John Gutch, OCLC 642441055, page 661:
      One hall called Civil Law Hall or School, flouriſhed about this time (though in its buildings decayed) by the care of the learned and judicious Dr. Will. Warham Principal or Moderator thereof []
  3. (intransitive) To be in a period of greatest influence.
    His writing flourished before the war.
  4. (transitive) To develop; to make thrive; to expand.
    • Francis Bacon
      Bottoms of thread [] which with a good needle, perhaps may be flourished into large works.
  5. (transitive) To make bold, sweeping movements with.
    They flourished the banner as they stormed the palace.
  6. (intransitive) To make bold and sweeping, fanciful, or wanton movements, by way of ornament, parade, bravado, etc.; to play with fantastic and irregular motion.
    • Alexander Pope
      Impetuous spread the stream, and smoking flourished o'er his head.
  7. (intransitive) To use florid language; to indulge in rhetorical figures and lofty expressions.
    • J. Watts
      They dilate [] and flourish long on little incidents.
  8. (intransitive) To make ornamental strokes with the pen; to write graceful, decorative figures.
  9. (transitive) To adorn with beautiful figures or rhetoric; to ornament with anything showy; to embellish.
    • Fenton
      With shadowy verdure flourish'd high,
      A sudden youth the groves enjoy.
    • William Shakespeare , Measure for Measure, Act IV, Scene 1.
      To bring you thus together, 'tis no sin, Sith that the justice of your title to him Doth flourish the deceit.
  10. (intransitive) To execute an irregular or fanciful strain of music, by way of ornament or prelude.
    • Shakespeare
      Why do the emperor's trumpets flourish thus?
  11. (intransitive, obsolete) To boast; to vaunt; to brag.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Alexander Pope to this entry?)




flourish (plural flourishes)

  1. A dramatic gesture such as the waving of a flag.
    With many flourishes of the captured banner, they marched down the avenue.
  2. An ornamentation.
    His signature ended with a flourish.
  3. (music) A ceremonious passage such as a fanfare.
    The trumpets blew a flourish as they entered the church.
  4. (architecture) A decorative embellishment on a building.