Also called, especially British, torch. a small, portable electric lamp powered by dry batteries, LEDs, or a tiny generator.
a light that flashes, as a lighthouse beacon.
any source of artificial light as used in flash photography.

Origin of flashlight

First recorded in 1885–90; flash + light1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for flashlight

Contemporary Examples of flashlight

Historical Examples of flashlight

  • A flashlight gleamed for an instant and Dr. Bird started in surprise.

    Poisoned Air

    Sterner St. Paul Meek

  • He turned the flashlight for an instant on his own face, and Dr. Bird gazed at him keenly.

    Poisoned Air

    Sterner St. Paul Meek

  • The feeble ray of the flashlight was lost in the blackness below.

  • It was her first experience with a flashlight, and she marvelled at its power.


    Eliot H. Robinson

  • That flashlight business is going to pan out just great, I can see.

British Dictionary definitions for flashlight



mainly US and Canadian a small portable electric lamp powered by one or more dry batteriesAlso called (in Britain and certain other countries): torch
photog the brief bright light emitted by an electronic flash unitSometimes shortened to: flash
mainly US and Canadian a light that flashes, used for signalling, in a lighthouse, etc
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 flashlight

American English for what the British might call an electric torch; 1919, from flash + light (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper