Idioms

    flash in the pan,
    1. a brief, intense effort that produces no really significant result.
    2. a person who makes such an effort; one who enjoys short-lived success.
    flash on, Slang.
    1. to have a sudden thought, insight, or inspiration about.
    2. to have a sudden, vivid memory or mental picture of: I just flashed on that day we spent at the lake.
    3. to feel an instantaneous understanding and appreciation of.

Origin of flash

1350–1400; Middle English flasshen to sprinkle, splash, earlier flask(i)en; probably phonesthemic in orig.; compare similar expressive words with fl- and -sh

SYNONYMS FOR flash

18 scintillate. Flash, glance, glint, glitter mean to send forth a sudden gleam (or gleams) of bright light. To flash is to send forth light with a sudden, transient brilliancy: A shooting star flashed briefly. To glance is to emit a brilliant flash of light as a reflection from a smooth surface: Sunlight glanced from the glass windshield. Glint suggests a hard bright gleam of reflected light, as from something polished or burnished: Light glints from silver or from burnished copper. To glitter is to reflect intermittent flashes of light from a hard surface: Ice glitters in the moonlight.
40 flashy, gaudy, tawdry; pretentious, superficial.
42 false, fake.

Related forms

flash·ing·ly, adverbout·flash, verb (used with object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for flash in the pan

flash

/ (flæʃ) /

noun

adjective

verb

Word Origin for flash

C14 (in the sense: to rush, as of water): 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

Culture definitions for flash in the pan

flash in the pan


Someone or something that promises great success but soon fails: “The rock group that was all the rage last year turned out to be just another flash in the pan.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with flash in the pan (1 of 2)

flash in the pan


An effort or person that promises great success but fails. For example, His second novel proved to be a flash in the pan, or We had high hopes for the new director, but she was a flash in the pan. This metaphoric term alludes to the 17th-century flintlock musket, which could be fired only when the flash of the priming powder in the lockpan ignited the charge in the bore. When it failed to ignite, there was only a flash in the pan and the gun did not shoot.

Idioms and Phrases with flash in the pan (2 of 2)

flash


In addition to the idiom beginning with flash

  • flash in the pan

also see:

  • in a flash
  • quick as a wink (flash)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.