Definition of flame in US English:



  • 1A hot glowing body of ignited gas that is generated by something on fire.

    ‘a sheet of flame blocked my escape’
    ‘the flame of a candle’
    • ‘I take another sip of cocoa, and stare out the frosty window, thanking the flames of the fire for warming my tired body.’
    • ‘She moved toward the small spot of light, which had narrowed from a flame to a glowing ember.’
    • ‘All but one of the items ignited when the candle flame came near the decoration and over half completely disintegrated.’
    • ‘He sat alone in the room, darkness engulfing everywhere except for the area touched by the flames of the fire in the large stone hearth.’
    • ‘Residents are directed to guard against the threat of fire as flames continue to engulf many areas in New South Wales.’
    • ‘Just walking down the block, for instance, one can see tiny flames of fire when a match is lit or when a lighter for a cigarette is flicked.’
    • ‘The candle flame represents fire, with black and white candles the most commonly used in magic.’
    • ‘The forfeitee tilts his/her glass at an angle of 45 degrees, and places the rim of the glass into the candle flame - thus igniting the sambuca.’
    • ‘However, it had steps in front of doors, fire escapes exposed to flames, inadequate balcony stairways, and no exit signs.’
    • ‘As a result blue light is more energetic than red light and hot flames from well adjusted Bunsen burners emit blue rather than yellow light.’
    • ‘Nathan shifted on the log, riveting his gaze to the dancing flames of the camp fire.’
    • ‘He stared into the fire to avoid her gaze, to focus his thoughts within the flames and the glowing embers.’
    • ‘Mr Moreton told how on the night of the fire he saw flames licking the roof of one block and tried to raise the alarm - but could not find any fire alarms.’
    • ‘I couldn't do anything else but stand there and stare into the glowing embers and jumping flames in order to still the tears that threatened to spill over.’
    • ‘He died instantly, before flames engulfed his body, which was identified from jewellery and dental records.’
    • ‘With a ‘whoosh’, the dried wood and grasses caught fire, and the flames licked around the pyre.’
    • ‘He was on fire; he saw the bright flames playing over his body, and the edges of his clothing lifting and curling into scrolls of fire.’
    • ‘Nearly 60 per cent of candle fires start when the flame comes into contact with nearby combustible materials.’
    • ‘The stranger's clothes, having been doused with alcohol, are ignited by flames from the fireplace.’
    • ‘The roll of paper towels was toppled over and on fire, the flames merrily making scorch marks on the counter and soot stains on the underside of the cabinets.’
    fire, blaze, conflagration, inferno, holocaust, firestorm
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    1. 1.1 A thing compared to a flame's ability to burn fiercely or be extinguished.
      ‘the flame of hope burns brightly here’
      ‘the sound of his laughter fanned the flame of anger to new heights’
      • ‘The perfect kiss at the perfect timing could definitely spice up your relationship, keeping the flames of love ever burning.’
      • ‘Having been a successful businessman since 1964 he could survive without football, he said, but the management flame still burns.’
      • ‘Even though he ignored her at school the flame of hope that burned in her heart hadn't gone out yet.’
      • ‘If the flame of literature burns strongly in Swindon, though, one man is perhaps responsible for keeping it healthily fanned.’
      • ‘Now if any band are ready to make it they are, there is a flame burning inside them that no one is going to extinguish.’
      • ‘After 25-years on and off the road, the flame still burns hot and bright, with the band often clocking in shows at three hours a stretch.’
      • ‘The funding extinguishes the last flame of hope that the school could be saved.’
      • ‘You could almost see the flames of competitiveness burning inside him and, although fierce, he was a man of character and kindness.’
      • ‘The flame of truism burns bright in Shane's love for Dostoyevsky's kind of Crime & Punishment.’
      • ‘A flame of passion burned within me at his touch, and I only lusted more.’
      • ‘The winning flame continues to burn bright within O'Neill's men and it remains to be seen if anyone can snuff it out.’
      • ‘And no matter how many years may pass, his poetic flame will still burn brightly.’
      passion, passionateness, warmth, ardour, fervour, fervency, fire, intensity, keenness
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    2. 1.2 A brilliant orange-red color.
      in combination ‘a flame-red trench coat’
      • ‘Try to avoid putting flame bright colours next to wishy-washy pink, or vice versa, but don't be afraid to mix bright colours in zingy combinations.’
      • ‘Asters look fabulous combined with gold variegated trailing ivies and heathers with lime-green or flame coloured foliage.’
      • ‘The predominant colours for the flowers of the evergreens are purple and pink, but there are also a number of flame coloured evergreens.’
      • ‘Her hair was still that fascinating flame red colour and her eyes were still twin jade sparks against the creamy canvas of her complexion.’
      scarlet, vermilion, ruby, ruby-red, ruby-coloured, cherry, cherry-red, cerise, cardinal, carmine, wine, wine-red, wine-coloured, claret, claret-red, claret-coloured, blood-red
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  • 2Computing
    informal A vitriolic or abusive message posted on the Internet or sent by email, typically in quick response to another message.

    ‘flames about inexperienced users posting stupid messages’
    • ‘It also created the culture of flames - abusive emails.’
    • ‘The social dynamics are very different; you think more before responding instead of posting a quick flame.’
    • ‘Our playful dig drew plenty of interesting emails and surprisingly, very few flames.’
    • ‘I post my thoughts on a blog that anyone can read and don't worry in the least that my public declarations will cause me any lasting harm, except for the occasional flame from a commenter.’
    • ‘Remember, a flame is not about responding to a story - it is merely the vehicle by which you can tell the world what's wrong with it.’


  • 1no object Burn and give off flames.

    ‘a great fire flamed in an open fireplace’
    burn, blaze, be ablaze, be alight, be on fire, be in flames, be aflame
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    1. 1.1with object Set (something) alight.
      ‘warm the whiskey slightly, pour over the lobster, and flame it’
      • ‘For you, Christmas is about family and traditions, and you rather enjoy the rituals of going to church at midnight and turning off the lights before flaming the plum pudding.’
      ignite, light, set light to, set fire to, set on fire, set alight, kindle, inflame, burn, touch off
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    2. 1.2 Shine or glow like a flame.
      ‘her thick hair flamed against the light’
      • ‘The lights flamed strongly, never showing any inclination to dim or blur.’
      • ‘The tip of her arrow seemed to be flaming, orange and yellow dancing along the blood red point.’
      • ‘Gloriana was the tallest of the three, with bright red hair flaming and swirling around her head, and green eyes that flashed impatiently.’
      • ‘A sugar maple, winch will flame up so brilliant orange in autumn it seems to warm the air around it.’
      • ‘And now the brief light that had flamed in his eyes was gone.’
      • ‘Come here at sunset, when the colours flame in red and orange, bold and beautiful.’
      • ‘The thick black hands flamed with an eerie blue sheen in the low light of the bridge, and dark green eyes glowed with a deranged luminescence from deep-set pits under the gunner's brow.’
      • ‘Lights flamed up in the corridors, feet were running, voices calling.’
      • ‘Keyla took the bag and turned her backs to the two; red hair flaming like the fires of the torch.’
      glow, shine, flash, beam, glare, sparkle
      become red, go red, blush, flush, redden, grow crimson, grow pink, grow scarlet, colour, glow, be suffused with colour
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    3. 1.3 (of an intense emotion) appear suddenly and fiercely.
      ‘hope flamed in her’
      • ‘Eddy's temper flamed and she stood up and faced Dante.’
      • ‘He couldn't bear seeing them together all the time, and already you could see the envy flaming in his eyes.’
      • ‘Anger flamed to life from deep inside him and burned away at him.’
      • ‘Hope flamed in his chest as he felt courage swell within him.’
      • ‘She kept her bright eyes on me, anger flamed in them.’
      • ‘His rage flaming in his eyes, he yanked Jocelyn toward him with one violent tug.’
      • ‘His face again was emotionless, only hungry desire flamed in his chocolate eyes.’
      • ‘She looked into the distance, and the old terror flamed up for an instant, then sank again.’
      • ‘Then hope flamed high as the demon was captured.’
      • ‘I saw intense anger flaming behind his blue eyes for a brief moment, then the old blank stare returned.’
      • ‘We both looked at her, obvious anger flaming in both our eyes, repentance far from our minds.’
      • ‘Desire flamed like lighter fluid on a campfire, an intense burst of emotion.’
      • ‘The anger still flamed inside of him, every moment just consuming him more and more.’
    4. 1.4 (of a person's face) suddenly become red with intense emotion, especially anger or embarrassment.
      ‘Jess's cheeks flamed’
      • ‘The realization flooded over me, and I wrapped my arms around my almost bare stomach, face flaming.’
      • ‘Her cheeks suddenly flamed as she realized that she might've given herself away.’
      • ‘Heather looked at her husband quickly and bit her lip, her face flaming.’
      • ‘Her cheeks flaming, Diana buried her face into Jack's shirt.’
      • ‘I knew my face was flaming, but I did not know what to do.’
      • ‘My cheeks flaming, I felt intense anger flooding my body - and not childish anger but real anger that made steam come out of your ears and possess your whole body.’
      • ‘I could hear the crowd laughing and my cheeks flamed with embarrassment.’
      • ‘She whispered, her face flaming as she laid her head on his shoulder.’
      • ‘His face flamed unwillingly when he realized that he'd been staring at her for about two minutes straight, unblinkingly.’
      • ‘My face flamed with embarrassment at the blatantly southern direction of my thoughts.’
      • ‘‘And we got a bit sidetracked,’ she finished, her face flaming red all over again.’
      • ‘Her face flamed, and she prayed no one would notice.’
      • ‘She squeaked and tried to get out of his embrace, her face flaming, but he just chuckled and leaned forward to whisper something in her ear.’
      • ‘I grabbed my backpack and left, my cheeks still flaming.’
      • ‘The balding man looked me over and I was grateful he couldn't see my cheeks flaming underneath the shadow of my hood.’
      • ‘I watch Alexandra sink down into her chair, her face flaming as she tries to ignore the cruel words from Tessa.’
      • ‘Suzanna's face flamed, but she said only, ‘I don't want to be late.’
      • ‘Of course, I ended up looking down at the ground, my face flaming with embarrassment.’
      • ‘I shrugged off the thoughts and went back to staring at my map, my cheeks flaming from embarrassment.’
      • ‘Melanie slowly turned around, her face flaming.’
  • 2Computing
    informal with object Direct a vitriolic or abusive message at (someone) by posting on the Internet or sending an email.

    ‘your opinions and mine are probably different, but please don't flame me’
    • ‘At least read what I actually wrote before you flame me.’
    • ‘If you have something against that, don't bother freaking out or flaming me, just simply press the back button.’
    • ‘Now if anyone read my previous blog, they will know I got seriously flamed by a person called Acidman, my ‘crime’?’
    • ‘Even if you think my story is horrible, please review and tell me why, don't just flame me.’
    • ‘Mom was a reader, a debater (I can not imagine keeping a blog if she was still alive, she would have flamed me to a crisp in either the comments or her own blog), and a passionate learner.’


  • burst into flame (or flames)

    • Suddenly begin to burn fiercely.

      ‘the grass looked ready to burst into flame’
      burn, blaze, be ablaze, be alight, be on fire, be in flames, be aflame
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  • go up in flames

    • Be destroyed by fire.

      ‘last night two factories went up in flames’
      • ‘Trees went up in flames, and fire crackled and burst and shot high into the sky.’
      • ‘The western part of the city in particular has been constantly pounded by Russian artillery, and factories and apartment blocks go up in flames after air raids.’
      • ‘Months of work went up in flames in a fire which forced a Swindon school to close for the day.’
      • ‘Minutes after they escaped, there was a fire flashover and the whole building went up in flames.’
      • ‘In winter, a vacant house goes up in flames, as kids or drug addicts light fires for fun or for heat.’
      • ‘The building went up in flames on Wednesday evening and parts of the factory were still smouldering today.’
      • ‘Most of the sofas are not made of fire retardant materials - one went up in flames within 30 seconds of cigarette contact and became a ‘roaring inferno’ in three minutes.’
      • ‘And fire officials say that was crucial, because the plane went up in flames, they estimate, just about a minute to two minutes after that.’
      • ‘It's still not known how much of them went up in flames, or exactly what else was in the fire.’
      • ‘Firefighters were tackling a huge blaze at a Bradford packaging factory today - more than 12 hours after it went up in flames.’
      burn, blaze, be ablaze, be alight, be on fire, be in flames, flame, be aflame
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  • old flame

    • informal A former lover.

      • ‘As the amorous side of your life goes up and down, you forage in the laundry basket of love, reselecting old flames instead of dusting yourself down and seeking new conquests.’
      • ‘Donna's reaction to seeing her old flames is interesting, to say the least.’
      • ‘You attempt to rekindle old flames but much water has flown under the bridge.’
      • ‘On the way back the two old flames kiss in his van.’
      • ‘Let's also take it as given that old flames are harder to keep as friends.’
      • ‘The theory can't possibly work for everyone - if old flames are that great in the first place, why do we ever move on?’
      • ‘It opens well enough with sad-faced British artist Colin arriving in New England to forget an old flame on an open-ended holiday in a town he picked purely because of its name.’
      • ‘The pensioner now has three children and has been married twice, but would love to contact his old flames to see what has happened during their lives.’
      • ‘Maybe this sudden influx of communication from old flames was karma having a field day and rubbing in the painful realities of current singledom.’
      • ‘In a move that has surprised absolutely everybody, she's essentially emigrated, gone to live in France with an old flame, some bloke she knew around ten years ago, before I knew her.’
      sweetheart, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, love, partner, beloved, beau, darling, escort, suitor
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  • in flames

    • On fire; burning fiercely.

      ‘the plane plunged to the ground in flames’
      • ‘The night sky was dirtied with thick grey smoke stemming from the entire city in flames.’
      • ‘Police said a man found the thermostat in flames and quickly put it out before the emergency crew arrived.’
      • ‘The whole street is up in flames, houses burning like stacks of firewood.’
      • ‘They both met in a grin and before I knew what was going on, the room was rumbling and caught in flames.’
      • ‘She looked at the marble floors and wooden walls once bathed in beauty, now in flames.’
      • ‘Much of the town is in flames as lava from a volcano began falling down on Thursday.’
      • ‘When both of them came to their senses, they noticed the whole barrack was in flames.’
      • ‘England's lawns go to seed; homes are in flames after desperate cooks are forced to flambé with diesel.’
      • ‘Communal riots had Mumbai in flames and for the first time, she felt shaken.’
      • ‘He has vivid memories of Zeppelin bombing raids over London during the First World War and saw three being shot down in flames.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • flame out

    • 1(of a jet engine) lose power through the extinction of the flame in the combustion chamber.

      1. 1.1North American informal Fail, especially conspicuously.
        ‘journalists had seared him for flaming out in the second round of the Olympics’
        • ‘Its attempt to export its New York City clothing sensibilities to the Midwest and West Coast flamed out, he says, because management failed to do market research on the tastes of non-New Yorkers.’


Middle English: from Old French flame (noun), flamer (verb), from Latin flamma ‘a flame’.