View synonyms for flow


[ floh ]

verb (used without object)

  1. to move along in a stream:

    The river flowed slowly to the sea.

  2. to circulate:

    blood flowing through one's veins.

  3. to stream or well forth:

    Warmth flows from the sun.

  4. to issue or proceed from a source:

    Orders flowed from the office.

  5. to menstruate.
  6. to come or go as in a stream:

    A constant stream of humanity flowed by.

  7. to proceed continuously and smoothly:

    Melody flowed from the violin.

    Synonyms: run

  8. to hang loosely at full length:

    Her hair flowed over her shoulders.

  9. to abound in something:

    The tavern flowed with wine.

    Synonyms: teem

  10. to rise and advance, as the tide ( ebb ).

verb (used with object)

  1. to cause or permit to flow:

    to flow paint on a wall before brushing.

  2. to cover with water or other liquid; flood.


  1. an act of flowing.
  2. movement in or as if in a stream.
  3. the rate of flowing.
  4. the volume of fluid that flows through a passage of any given section during a unit of time:

    Oil flow of the well was 500 barrels a day.

  5. something that flows; stream.
  6. an outpouring or discharge of something, as in a stream:

    a flow of blood.

  7. an overflowing; flood.
  8. the rise of the tide ( ebb ).
  9. Machinery. progressive distortion of a metal object under continuous service at high temperature.
  10. Physics. the transference of energy:

    heat flow.


/ fləʊ /


  1. (of liquids) to move or be conveyed as in a stream
  2. (of blood) to circulate around the body
  3. to move or progress freely as if in a stream

    the crowd flowed into the building

  4. to proceed or be produced continuously and effortlessly

    ideas flowed from her pen

  5. to show or be marked by smooth or easy movement
  6. to hang freely or loosely

    her hair flowed down her back

  7. to be present in abundance

    wine flows at their parties

  8. an informal word for menstruate
  9. (of tide water) to advance or rise Compare ebb
  10. tr to cover or swamp with liquid; flood
  11. (of rocks such as slate) to yield to pressure without breaking so that the structure and arrangement of the constituent minerals are altered


  1. the act, rate, or manner of flowing

    a fast flow

  2. a continuous stream or discharge
  3. continuous progression
  4. the advancing of the tide
  5. a stream of molten or solidified lava
  6. the amount of liquid that flows in a given time
  7. an informal word for menstruation
    1. a marsh or swamp
    2. an inlet or basin of the sea
    3. ( capital when part of a name )

      Scapa Flow

  8. flow of spirits
    natural happiness

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Other Words From

  • flowa·ble adjective
  • flowa·bili·ty noun
  • re·flow noun verb
  • under·flow noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of flow1

First recorded before 900; (verb) Middle English flowen, Old English flōwan; akin to Middle Low German vlōien, Old Norse flōa; (noun) late Middle English: “surge of a wave,” derivative of the verb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of flow1

Old English flōwan ; related to Old Norse flōa , Middle Low German vlōien , Greek plein to float, Sanskrit plavate he swims

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Idioms and Phrases

see ebb and flow ; go with the flow .

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Synonym Study

Flow, gush, spout, spurt refer to certain of the movements characteristic of fluids. Flow is the general term: Water flows. A stream of blood flows. To gush is to rush forth copiously from a cavity, in as large a volume as can issue therefrom, as the result of some strong impelling force: The water will gush out if the main breaks. Spout and spurt both imply the ejecting of a liquid from a cavity by some internal impetus given to it. Spout implies a rather steady, possibly well-defined, jet or stream, not necessarily of long duration but always of considerable force: A whale spouts. Spurt implies a forcible, possibly sudden, spasmodic, or intermittent issue or jet: The liquid spurted out suddenly when the bottle cap was pushed in. Spout applies only to liquids; the other terms apply also to gases.

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Example Sentences

This change could help to crack down on the unmoderated flow of information across groups, which can lead to spam and misinformation spreading quickly.

Ominously, the debris flow risk is shown to be high in areas recently burned, such as in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Greece and Cyprus are part of the EU, while Turkey is central to Europe’s efforts to curb the flow of migrants.

From Ozy

That can include changes in the flow, temperature or saltiness of water, he notes.

Bridgewater has been moving into gold and inflation-linked bonds in its All Weather portfolio, diversifying the countries it invests in and finding more stocks with stable cash flow.

From Fortune

But the jokes flow at such a torrential pace that duds are soon forgotten; the best are even Spamalot-worthy.

Ebb and flow, checks and balances, the center would hold, et cetera.

“The lies of the government shocked us,” says Fatima, as the tears flow slowly from her eyes and down her cheek.

But before a new tide of tourists can flow from Miami to Havana, Cuba will need to build more runways.

Speak to the friends and people you need to root out in life and let that conversation flow.

The volcanic eruptions of the mountains on the west broke down its barriers, and let its waters flow.

And Tom, aware that he winced, was also aware that something in his life congealed and stopped its normal flow.

The arrows represent the flow of money from each of these four categories to the others.

Its entrance into and exit from banks is a flow, but not a circulation against goods.

Therefore, the total circulation exceeds the total flow from and to banks by the amount flowing through "nondepositors."


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More About Flow

What is basic definition of flow?

Flow means to move along in a stream, as water does. Flow also means to circulate, as air does. Flow is used as a noun to mean movement as if in a stream. Flow has several other senses as a verb and a noun.

When something flows, it moves like water in a stream. When used literally, flow is almost always used to describe the movement of liquids or things that act like fluids. Flow is also often used figuratively to mean to move smoothly like water or a liquid.

  • Real-life examples: Water flows through pipes. Magma flows out of a volcano. People hope traffic flows through a city so they don’t get stuck in a traffic jam.
  • Used in a sentence: Roger lied so much that the lies flowed out of his mouth. 

Flow is also used in this sense as a noun to mean an act of flowing.

  • Used in a sentence: The huge dam redirects the flow of the river away from the city. 

Flow can also mean to circulate, especially in reference to liquids.

  • Used in a sentence: The heart makes sure blood flows throughout the body.

As a noun, flow means a continuous motion, like the flow of a stream. It usually refers to liquids but can refer to anything, literally or figuratively.

  • Used in a sentence: A flow of shoppers streamed into the mall. 

Where does flow come from?

The first records of flow come from before the 900s. It comes from the Old English verb flōwan. It is related to similar words with the same meaning, such as the Middle Low German vlōien and the Old Norse flōa.

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What are some other forms related to flow?

  • flowing (adjective, present tense verb)
  • flowable (adjective)
  • flowability (noun)
  • reflow (noun, verb)
  • underflow (noun)

What are some synonyms for flow?

What are some words that share a root or word element with flow

What are some words that often get used in discussing flow?

What are some words flow may be commonly confused with?

How is flow used in real life?

Flow is a common word that most often means to move like a streaming liquid.

Try using flow!

Which of the following is a synonym of flow?

A. stop
B. stream
C. radiate
D. orbit

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.