verb (used without object), flared, flar·ing.

verb (used with object), flared, flar·ing.


Origin of flare

1540–50; original meaning: spread out, said of hair, a ship's sides, etc.; compare Old English flǣre either of the spreading sides at the end of the nose
Related formsout·flare, verb (used with object), out·flared, out·flar·ing.un·flared, adjective
Can be confusedflair flare

Synonyms for flare

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for flare-up

explosion, eruption, epidemic, outburst, blowup, rise, gush

Examples from the Web for flare-up

Contemporary Examples of flare-up

Historical Examples of flare-up

  • The flare-up was kept inside the companion with a box of matches ready to hand.


    Joseph Conrad

  • There has been a 'flare-up' about money between Cashel and him, and it is said he 'll lose the agency.

    Roland Cashel

    Charles James Lever

  • Wouldn't there be a flare-up if I just handed it over to the old maid?

  • The war had periods of flare-up and periods in which it seemed to be subsiding.

    Watch the Sky

    James H. Schmitz

  • I did not notice all that when she burnt the flare-up just now.

    The Ghost Ship

    John C. Hutcheson

British Dictionary definitions for flare-up



a sudden burst of fire or light
informal a sudden burst of emotion or violence

verb flare up (intr, adverb)

to burst suddenly into fire or light
informal to burst into anger



to burn or cause to burn with an unsteady or sudden bright flame
to spread or cause to spread outwards from a narrow to a wider shape
(tr) to make a conspicuous display of
to increase the temperature of (a molten metal or alloy) until a gaseous constituent of the melt burns with a characteristic flame or (of a molten metal or alloy) to show such a flame
(tr sometimes foll by off) (in the oil industry) to burn off (unwanted gas) at an oil well


an unsteady flame
a sudden burst of flame
  1. a blaze of light or fire used to illuminate, identify, alert, signal distress, etc
  2. the device producing such a blaze
a spreading shape or anything with a spreading shapea skirt with a flare
a sudden outburst, as of emotion
  1. the unwanted light reaching the image region of an optical device by reflections inside the instrument, etc
  2. the fogged area formed on a negative by such reflectionsSee also solar flare
astronomy short for solar flare
aeronautics the final transition phase of an aircraft landing, from the steady descent path to touchdown
an open flame used to burn off unwanted gas at an oil well
Derived Formsflared, adjective

Word Origin for flare

C16 (to spread out): of unknown origin
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

Word Origin and History for flare-up



"bright, unsteady light," 1814, from flare (v.), which led to the sense of "signal fire" (1883). Flares "flared trousers" is from 1964.



mid-16c., originally "spread out" (hair), of unknown origin, perhaps from Dutch vlederen. Related: Flared; flaring. The notion of "spreading out in display" is behind the notion of "spreading gradually outward" (1640s). Flare-up "a sudden burst" is from 1837.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

flare-up in Medicine




An area of redness on the skin surrounding the primary site of infection or irritation.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.