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
Related formsflash·ing·ly, adverbout·flash, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for flash

1. flare, gleam, glare. 3. twinkling, wink. 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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for outflash

Historical Examples of outflash

British Dictionary definitions for outflash



a sudden short blaze of intense light or flamea flash of sunlight
a sudden occurrence or display, esp one suggestive of brilliancea flash of understanding
a very brief space of timeover in a flash
an ostentatious displaya flash of her diamonds
Also called: newsflash a short news announcement concerning a new event
Also called: patch mainly British an insignia or emblem worn on a uniform, vehicle, etc, to identify its military formation
a patch of bright colour on a dark background, such as light marking on an animal
a volatile mixture of inorganic salts used to produce a glaze on bricks or tiles
  1. a sudden rush of water down a river or watercourse
  2. a device, such as a sluice, for producing such a rush
photog informal short for flashlight (def. 2), flash photography
a ridge of thin metal or plastic formed on a moulded object by the extrusion of excess material between dies
Yorkshire and Lancashire dialect a pond, esp one produced as a consequence of subsidence
(modifier) involving, using, or produced by a flash of heat, light, etcflash blindness; flash distillation
flash in the pan a project, person, etc, that enjoys only short-lived success, notoriety, etc


informal ostentatious or vulgar
informal of or relating to gamblers and followers of boxing and racing
sham or counterfeit
informal relating to or characteristic of the criminal underworld
brief and rapidflash freezing


to burst or cause to burst suddenly or intermittently into flame
to emit or reflect or cause to emit or reflect light suddenly or intermittently
(intr) to move very fasthe flashed by on his bicycle
(intr) to come rapidly (into the mind or vision)
(intr; foll by out or up) to appear like a sudden lighthis anger really flashes out at times
  1. to signal or communicate very fastto flash a message
  2. to signal by use of a light, such as car headlights
(tr) informal to display ostentatiouslyto flash money around
(tr) informal to show suddenly and briefly
(intr) British slang to expose oneself indecently
(tr) to cover (a roof) with flashing
to send a sudden rush of water down (a river, etc), or to carry (a vessel) down by this method
(in the making of glass) to coat (glass) with a thin layer of glass of a different colour
(tr) to subject to a brief pulse of heat or radiation
(tr) to change (a liquid) to a gas by causing it to hit a hot surface
obsolete to splash or dash (water)

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

Word Origin and History for outflash



1560s, from flash (v.); originally of lightning. Meaning "first news report" is from 1857. Meaning "photographic lamp" is from 1913. The comic book character dates to 1940. Flash in the pan (1809) is from old-style guns, where the powder might ignite in the pan but fail to spark the main charge.



late 14c., from flasken (c.1300) "to dash or splash" (as water), probably imitative. Related: Flashed; flashing. Sense of "give off a sudden burst of light or flame" is 1540s. Flash flood is from 1940. Flash card is from 1923. Flash cube (remember those?) is from 1965.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with outflash


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.