[flur-ish, fluhr-]

verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

to brandish dramatically; gesticulate with: a conductor flourishing his baton for the crescendo.
to decorate or embellish (writing, a page of script, etc.) with sweeping or fanciful curves or lines.


Origin of flourish

1250–1300; Middle English florisshen < Middle French floriss-, long stem of florirLatin flōrēre to bloom, derivative of flōs flower
Related formsflour·ish·er, nounout·flour·ish, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for flourish

1. grow, increase. See succeed. 9. ornament. 12. ornament, adornment.

Antonyms for flourish

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

Examples from the Web for flourish

Contemporary Examples of flourish

Historical Examples of flourish

  • Emma finished the sleeve of the blouse she was mending with a flourish.

  • With a flourish Katy seated him, and carried the packages to Linda.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • And the stranger, with a flourish of his hand, turned to the door.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • Not of late years,' replied the Chief, with a flourish of his hand.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • When he had finished this epistle, Rigaud folded it and tossed it with a flourish at Clennam's feet.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for flourish



(intr) to thrive; prosper
(intr) to be at the peak of condition
(intr) to be healthyplants flourish in the light
to wave or cause to wave in the air with sweeping strokes
to display or make a display
to play (a fanfare, etc) on a musical instrument
(intr) to embellish writing, characters, etc, with ornamental strokes
to add decorations or embellishments to (speech or writing)
(intr) an obsolete word for blossom


the act of waving or brandishing
a showy gesturehe entered with a flourish
an ornamental embellishment in writing
a display of ornamental language or speech
a grandiose passage of music
an ostentatious display or parade
  1. the state of flourishing
  2. the state of flowering
Derived Formsflourisher, noun

Word Origin for flourish

C13: from Old French florir, ultimately from Latin flōrēre to flower, from flōs a flower
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 flourish

c.1300, "to blossom, grow," from Old French floriss-, stem of florir "blossom, flower, bloom, flourish," from Latin florere "to bloom, blossom, flower," figuratively "to flourish, be prosperous," from flos "a flower" (see flora).

Metaphoric sense of "thrive" is mid-14c. Meaning "to brandish (a weapon)" first attested late 14c. Related: Flourished; flourishing.


c.1500, "a blossom," from flourish (v.). Meaning "ostentatious waving of a weapon" is from 1550s; that of "literary or rhetorical embellishment" is from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper