• synonyms


See more synonyms for flaw on Thesaurus.com
  1. a feature that mars the perfection of something; defect; fault: beauty without flaw; the flaws in our plan.
  2. a defect impairing legal soundness or validity.
  3. a crack, break, breach, or rent.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to produce a flaw in.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to contract a flaw; become cracked or defective.
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Origin of flaw1

1275–1325; Middle English flaw(e), flage, perhaps < Old Norse flaga sliver, flake
Related formsflaw·less, adjective


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Synonym study

1. See defect.


  1. Also called windflaw. a sudden, usually brief windstorm or gust of wind.
  2. a short spell of rough weather.
  3. Obsolete. a burst of feeling, fury, etc.
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Origin of flaw2

First recorded in 1475–85, flaw is from the Old Norse word flaga attack, squall
Related formsflaw·y, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for flaw

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The Inspector seized on the one flaw left him for defense against her indictment.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • The most carping could have found no flaw in the quiet taste of his attire.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • It was more; it was a mistake, a flaw in her diplomacy; for Calendar intercepted it.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • There was a flaw in one of the rods connected with the engine.

  • The complainant's shield was examined and counted, and not a flaw discovered.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

British Dictionary definitions for flaw


  1. an imperfection, defect, or blemish
  2. a crack, breach, or rift
  3. law an invalidating fault or defect in a document or proceeding
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  1. to make or become blemished, defective, or imperfect
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Derived Formsflawless, adjectiveflawlessly, adverbflawlessness, noun

Word Origin

C14: probably from Old Norse flaga stone slab; related to Swedish flaga chip, flake, flaw


    1. a sudden short gust of wind; squall
    2. a spell of bad, esp windy, weather
  1. obsolete an outburst of strong feeling
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Derived Formsflawy, adjective

Word Origin

C16: of Scandinavian origin; related to Norwegian flaga squall, gust, Middle Dutch vlāghe
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 flaw


early 14c., "a flake" (of snow), also in Middle English "a spark of fire; a splinter," from Old Norse flaga "stone slab, flake" (see flagstone); sense of "defect, fault" first recorded 1580s, first of character, later (c.1600) of material things; probably via notion of a "fragment" broken off.

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early 15c. (implied in flawed); see flaw (n.). Related: Flawing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper