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[floh] /floʊ/
verb (used without object)
to move along in a stream:
The river flowed slowly to the sea.
to circulate:
blood flowing through one's veins.
to stream or well forth:
Warmth flows from the sun.
to issue or proceed from a source:
Orders flowed from the office.
to menstruate.
to come or go as in a stream:
A constant stream of humanity flowed by.
to proceed continuously and smoothly:
Melody flowed from the violin.
to hang loosely at full length:
Her hair flowed over her shoulders.
to abound in something:
The tavern flowed with wine.
to rise and advance, as the tide (opposed to ebb).
verb (used with object)
to cause or permit to flow:
to flow paint on a wall before brushing.
to cover with water or other liquid; flood.
an act of flowing.
movement in or as if in a stream.
the rate of flowing.
the volume of fluid that flows through a passage of any given section during a unit of time:
Oil flow of the well was 500 barrels a day.
something that flows; stream.
an outpouring or discharge of something, as in a stream:
a flow of blood.
an overflowing; flood.
the rise of the tide (opposed to ebb).
Machinery. progressive distortion of a metal object under continuous service at high temperature.
Physics. the transference of energy:
heat flow.
Origin of flow
before 900; (v.) Middle English flowen, Old English flōwan; akin to Middle Low German vlōien, Old Norse flōa; (noun) late Middle English: surge of a wave, derivative of the v.
Related forms
flowable, adjective
flowability, noun
reflow, noun, verb
underflow, noun
Can be confused
floe, flow (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. Flow, gush, spout, spurt refer to certain of the movements characteristic of fluids. Flow is the general term: Water flows. A stream of blood flows. To gush is to rush forth copiously from a cavity, in as large a volume as can issue therefrom, as the result of some strong impelling force: The water will gush out if the main breaks. Spout and spurt both imply the ejecting of a liquid from a cavity by some internal impetus given to it. Spout implies a rather steady, possibly well-defined, jet or stream, not necessarily of long duration but always of considerable force: A whale spouts. Spurt implies a forcible, possibly sudden, spasmodic, or intermittent issue or jet: The liquid spurted out suddenly when the bottle cap was pushed in. Spout applies only to liquids; the other terms apply also to gases. 7. run. 9. teem. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for flow
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Her tears began to flow again; she could not help giving way.

    Vagabondia Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • I dare not and do not wish for anything otherwise than as we have it flow.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • The tide of emigration continues to flow into Texas from European ports.

  • Launching out into the current, the raft was borne with its flow towards the creek.

    Down The River Oliver Optic
  • When the box was out he enlarged the hole, and, when the water had cleared, studied the flow.

    The Heritage of the Hills Arthur P. Hankins
British Dictionary definitions for flow


verb (mainly intransitive)
(of liquids) to move or be conveyed as in a stream
(of blood) to circulate around the body
to move or progress freely as if in a stream: the crowd flowed into the building
to proceed or be produced continuously and effortlessly: ideas flowed from her pen
to show or be marked by smooth or easy movement
to hang freely or loosely: her hair flowed down her back
to be present in abundance: wine flows at their parties
an informal word for menstruate
(of tide water) to advance or rise Compare ebb (sense 1)
(transitive) to cover or swamp with liquid; flood
(of rocks such as slate) to yield to pressure without breaking so that the structure and arrangement of the constituent minerals are altered
the act, rate, or manner of flowing: a fast flow
a continuous stream or discharge
continuous progression
the advancing of the tide
a stream of molten or solidified lava
the amount of liquid that flows in a given time
an informal word for menstruation
  1. a marsh or swamp
  2. an inlet or basin of the sea
  3. (capital when part of a name): Scapa Flow
flow of spirits, natural happiness
Word Origin
Old English flōwan; related to Old Norse flōa, Middle Low German vlōien, Greek plein to float, Sanskrit plavate he swims
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for flow

Old English flowan "to flow, stream, issue; become liquid, melt; abound, overflow" (class VII strong verb; past tense fleow, past participle flowen), from Proto-Germanic *flo- (cf. Middle Dutch vloyen, Dutch vloeien "to flow," Old Norse floa "to deluge," Old High German flouwen "to rinse, wash"), probably from PIE *pleu- "flow, float" (see pluvial). The weak form predominated from 14c., but strong past participle flown is occasionally attested through 18c. Related: Flowed; flowing.


mid-15c., "action of flowing," from flow (v.). Meaning "amount that flows" is from 1807. Flow chart attested from 1920.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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flow in Medicine

flow (flō)
v. flowed, flow·ing, flows

  1. To move or run smoothly with unbroken continuity.

  2. To circulate, as the blood in the body.

  3. To menstruate.

  1. The smooth motion characteristic of fluids.

  2. The volume of fluid or gas passing a given point per unit of time.

  3. Menstrual discharge.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for flow



To menstruate: am flowing, so can't do inverted poses

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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flow in Technology

A companion utility to Floppy by Julian James Bunn Flow allows the user to produce various reports on the structure of Fortran 77 code, such as flow diagrams and common block tables. It runs under VMS, Unix, CMS.
Posted to comp.sources.misc volume 31.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Idioms and Phrases with flow
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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