Definition of flourish in US English:



  • 1no object (of a person, animal, or other living organism) grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.

    ‘wild plants flourish on the banks of the lake’
    • ‘Many species of waterfowl flourish in the island's lagoons, creeks, and mud flats, which attract many migrating North American species.’
    • ‘My garden is filled with plants which grow and flourish in what is essentially a micro-climate.’
    • ‘Your plants will also flourish with a little extra attention.’
    • ‘The first plants flourished; but Brandt sold out for personal reasons and left the Territory.’
    • ‘Years later people still say to the daughter that the plant is flourishing.’
    • ‘My basil plant is flourishing on my windowsill, but I'm bored out of my mind with the stuff.’
    • ‘These bacteria flourish in warm, wet conditions, the very ones that characterize body wraps.’
    • ‘A bonus of the koala-friendly restrictions is that many other native species are flourishing also.’
    • ‘What kind of first year it experiences in a new territory can make the difference between an invading species of mushroom flourishing or failing.’
    • ‘Illegally introduced warm-water fishes flourished in the impoundment, presumably replacing the native species.’
    • ‘But enough of them hop on to the correct host to keep the species flourishing.’
    • ‘Plants flourished in places where climatic conditions previously limited growth.’
    • ‘He sees two reasons for the species flourishing.’
    • ‘Here, in the middle of the Périgord in France, tropical plants were flourishing in the shelter of a limestone crag.’
    • ‘In the summer months it smelled of warm spices and sweet lavender from the growing gardens where the plants flourished and blossomed.’
    • ‘These changes help the bacteria flourish within the light organs.’
    • ‘All animal life depends on plants, directly or indirectly, and nowhere do plants flourish with such vigour and variety as they do in the warm, wet tropical rainforests.’
    • ‘When he transplanted the upunu (as the owoc called it) to the valley floor, the plants flourished.’
    • ‘Sometimes we see several rings of slightly different color, each a species flourishing in a different temperature range.’
    • ‘The bird flourished throughout its range from the northern tip of Venezuela down the spine of the Andes to the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina.’
    grow, thrive, prosper, do well, grow well, develop, burgeon, increase, multiply, proliferate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Develop rapidly and successfully.
      ‘the organization has continued to flourish’
      • ‘Unlike Norton and Margot, their career continued to flourish through the forties and fifties, but no longer as a brother act.’
      • ‘The mayor said that while larger industries continue to flourish in the region, small companies in particular need more support and better help.’
      • ‘For basketball to flourish yet more successfully in England it had to develop a solid infrastructure, said Nelson.’
      • ‘Contrary to the expectations of the prophets of secularism, the Christian religion continues to flourish in western societies at the end of the twentieth century.’
      • ‘‘People that subscribe to sites like these create a market and while people continue to subscribe, these sites will continue to flourish,’ he said.’
      • ‘Many clients are also continuing to flourish with the help of our strategic planning program.’
      • ‘As long as research continues to flourish, the conditions and collaborations necessary to further it will continue to change.’
      • ‘Buddhism itself, however, continues to flourish, having successfully responded to the challenge of colonialism and adapted to modern democracy.’
      • ‘Folk care of sick animals antedated the arrival of Europeans and continued to flourish even after the veterinary profession began to develop.’
      • ‘To those choosing to marry someone of a different faith, such marriages have flourished and will continue to do so.’
      • ‘Hopefully, independent music will still continue to flourish in the city of Calgary and other operations will recognize the value of promoting live entertainment.’
      • ‘Cher's music career continued to flourish, but the Oscar made her a genuine movie star, even if she's only made a handful of movies since.’
      • ‘This month they moved to their new site, in the Boulevard, and I hope that they continue to flourish now that they are in the town centre.’
      • ‘Byzantium continued to flourish for yet another millennium.’
      • ‘It was a time of rapid economic growth for the new country and the university flourished and rapidly expanded.’
      • ‘The ethnic press was an extensive enterprise that continued to flourish, according to patterns of immigration, until the Great Depression.’
      • ‘‘Since then the group has flourished and continues to put on successful original works,’ says Charlotte.’
      • ‘Despite police claims that they have regularly conducted raids to cleanse the city of gambling dens and other gaming sites, most have continued to flourish across the capital.’
      • ‘The trick, now, will be to turn all this enthusiasm and increased awareness and skills in our young people into more, flourishing, successful and high-growth businesses.’
      • ‘Indigenous people are proud of the fact they survived the colonial era and they are determined to flourish, continue their traditions and assert their rights.’
      thriving, prosperous, prospering, booming, burgeoning, successful, strong, vigorous, buoyant
      thrive, prosper, bloom, be in good shape, be in good health, be well, be strong, be vigorous, be in its heyday
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2with adverbial (of a person) be working or at the height of one's career during a specified period.
      ‘the caricaturist and wit who flourished in the early years of this century’
      • ‘Having said that, the Memoirs, along with the substantial introduction, do give readers the flavour of the Regency period during which Harriette flourished.’
      • ‘By no means universal, this character tended to flourish during the period because of his liminality.’
      • ‘The date of the period in which Fukuno flourished is not mentioned in the certificate quoted above.’
      • ‘It is evident from the accounts already given that Chingempin flourished at a later period, and that Miura was his contemporary.’
      thrive, prosper, bloom, be in good shape, be in good health, be well, be strong, be vigorous, be in its heyday
      View synonyms
  • 2with object (of a person) wave (something) around to attract the attention of others.

    ‘“Happy New Year!” he yelled, flourishing a bottle of whiskey’
    • ‘He grinned, trying to shake off his morning glumness, and swung his own gleaming blade around, flourishing it with expertise.’
    • ‘As I listened to the talk about ‘darshan’ at various places, I imagined I saw those beaming singers flourishing bloody knives.’
    • ‘Old and young alike emerge dustily from the scrum, flourishing their trophies.’
    • ‘The opening story, Celia, is a cheerless piece about a woman who will go to bed with anyone who flourishes a bottle.’
    • ‘At the same time he opened them to a procession of shonks, one of whom went around the world flourishing a letter signed by Cairns authorising him to raise funds for the Australian government.’
    • ‘It's all very well flourishing the old tax bribe, a favourite trick of these conjurers.’
    • ‘Television coverage of their practice routines has shown them swinging from a stadium-roof, SAS-style, flourishing batons and preparing for a terrorist attack.’
    • ‘The exuberant audience, in an elixir of patriotism, rejoicing in jingoism and flourishing Union Jacks, swells to the strains of Jerusalem, the other national anthem.’
    • ‘But flourishing a file of letters of complaint sent to the authority since early spring, the local farmer said the council was in the wrong.’
    • ‘They leapt ashore from their longboats, flourishing their broadswords and shouting: ‘Ou-est la jolie kunta?’’
    • ‘But when the big boys come calling, flourishing their fat cheques, will Birlinn be any better at holding on to its prize assets than cash-strapped Polygon?’
    • ‘Now the water was up to his chest and his right arm flourished the vodka bottle over his head.’
    brandish, wave, shake, wield, raise, hold aloft
    View synonyms


  • 1A bold or extravagant gesture or action, made especially to attract the attention of others.

    ‘with a flourish, she ushered them inside’
    • ‘Then, with a flourish, he pops the skull back inside the skin, and before I can even sneeze, I am staring into the dead eyes of a recognisable curlew, beak and all.’
    • ‘Now, pigeons sit on his shoulders, and passing poets salute him with a flourish of the walking stick.’
    • ‘Katie finished with a flourish, pushing Cody out of the way and walking with a purpose to the reception area.’
    • ‘In a recurrent gesture, one arm reached up with a flourish to allow a quick turn of her body around itself.’
    • ‘We readily join the festivities as Ong seats us with a flourish at a table of confused Latvian models, and it is a couple of hours before we drag ourselves away for the short walk to our final stop.’
    • ‘‘You're welcome, Mademoiselle Eponine,’ he said with a flourish, and kissed my hand.’
    • ‘In fact, I would rather have been in a bunker,’ he said with a flourish of his hands.’
    • ‘He gestured to the now empty chair with a flourish, and grinned, flashing sharp teeth.’
    • ‘The coach gave the signal and turned on the hose with a flourish.’
    • ‘The squad often stopped their luxury cars and would oblige with a flourish of their own felt-tipped pens while posing for pictures with the youngsters.’
    • ‘With a flourish and a gesture that was almost comical in its theatrics, she ignored my queen and advanced a totally unconnected pawn.’
    • ‘Finishing each set-piece with a flourish, he gives a delighted how-about-that-then, a did-you-see-that flick of the wrist.’
    • ‘With a flourish he stood, gesturing for me to stand as well.’
    • ‘Mauritians are also partial to a snack, sold by streetside vendors who cook up on charcoal braziers, fanning the flames with a flourish - another excellent exposure to the outdoor life.’
    • ‘Changing his moods, as he forcibly beat every cymbal in his percussion set, Sivamani played with the sticks as if they were a pair of magic wands, twirling them with a flourish for extra effect.’
    • ‘He gestured toward Alpha Flight with a flourish.’
    • ‘He bowed gracefully, taking her hand with a flourish and kissing it, leaving a red lipstick mark.’
    • ‘The curtain rises with a flourish, stirring Norm's attention out of the room.’
    • ‘I just wish I had a more coherent thought here to discharge with a flourish into the dense fog that blankets the republic.’
    1. 1.1 An elaborate rhetorical or literary expression.
      • ‘The remark about New England was not a rhetorical flourish.’
      • ‘Increasingly, it seems that an international show also requires a rhetorical flourish or a promise to explode the conventional biennial formula.’
      • ‘He opens the discussion with a rhetorical flourish to make the problem seem utterly insurmountable, so as to make the ultimate solution seem all the more dramatic.’
      • ‘They are mere rhetorical flourishes designed to conceal an actual renunciation.’
      • ‘Both strategies are crowned by a dramatic rhetorical flourish in which a final gender reversal is made to reveal the fundamental hypocrisy of men who would deny women access to learning.’
      • ‘Throughout, Tait notes that Witherspoon's sermons were earnest, clear, precise, direct, and unembellished by rhetorical flourishes.’
      • ‘But this is just a rhetorical flourish - he doesn't really mean it literally.’
      • ‘This excessively restricted vision of the impact of computer and software technology on economic progress is presented with lively rhetorical flourishes.’
      • ‘His remarkable voice, which he put to powerful effect in Shakespeare, was nonetheless a point of controversy because he often used it with rhetorical flourishes that recalled earlier models of elocution.’
      • ‘The comment was not just a rhetorical flourish but implied a definite threat of police measures against the organisation.’
      • ‘George's rhetorical flourishes add juice and spice to the work.’
      • ‘The film has the rhetorical flourishes of the certain, but the confusion of the tentative.’
      • ‘Prof. Pangle, despite rhetorical flourishes in this direction, finally reveals little interest in such a radical questioning of rationalism.’
      • ‘Our rhetorical flourish prompted dissent from some of our readers.’
      • ‘The phrase ‘ought only to be’ is merely a rhetorical flourish, since the choice of ends has been put outside the sphere of reason.’
      • ‘Rather, he continued, ‘You have some rhetorical flourishes.’’
      • ‘Being mere insiders, uncritically, may often result in the production of mindless celebratory writing, rhetorical flourishes, and populist clichés - so easy to imbibe and so banal.’
      • ‘In my father's case, Chaber knew that such rhetorical flourishes were unnecessary, since opposing counsel had, in effect, accused my father of being a liar.’
      • ‘He is not a man given to great rhetorical flourishes.’
      • ‘I find all that ‘daughters’ stuff fairly risible, and am not sure that it's just a question of rhetorical flourishes.’
    2. 1.2 An ornamental flowing curve in handwriting or scrollwork.
      ‘spiky gothic letters with an emphatic flourish beneath them’
      • ‘A small note below told the address of the family's home, and was signed with a loopy quasi-calligraphic flourish; Save a spot for me Robyn.’
      • ‘Within the fortress of the conference halls, gold-plated pens sign off with a flourish on secret agreements that will change the shape of the world.’
      • ‘My handwriting was so much more simple than her flourishes and sweeps and big spacing.’
      • ‘Unnecessary curves, strokes, flourishes, dots and lines can prove to be counter-productive, he says.’
      • ‘But such fierce determination to prevail will be matched by the hosts, who want to sign off the ill-starred campaign with a flourish.’
      • ‘I slowly amassed quite an impressive portfolio of rejection letters, each impeccably typed on embossed letterheads and signed with a flourish.’
      • ‘Papa's script was so beautiful it was almost illegible and now, when I see something he wrote, those flowing tails and flourishes make my throat close.’
  • 2An instance of suddenly performing or developing in an impressively successful way.

    ‘the Bulldogs produced a late second-half flourish’
    • ‘A number of substitutions were then made by both sides before an impressive late flourish by Crettyard Gaels left just four points between the sides at the finish.’
    • ‘Barnacarroll, who won the title for the first time last year, finished with a flourish and recorded a score of 92 out of a possible 100.’
    • ‘As the clock counted down, Manulla kept plugging away but they had been edged out, and after a rather tentative start, the homeside managed to finish with a flourish.’
    • ‘But after devouring Morton 6-0 on the second day of the New Year, Ayr have begun 2001 with a flourish.’
    • ‘Wilberfoss, having had an injury-hit year, were determined to finish the campaign with a flourish and did just that against the champions.’
    • ‘Now, although mindful not to take too much for granted, Davies is aiming to end the season with a flourish and lay the foundation for an even better goal return in 2004-05.’
    • ‘Arcand occasionally achieves some impressive directorial flourishes but he is severely constrained by his self-imposed limitation of imitating a string of dreadful TV talk shows.’
    • ‘After Smith's dismissal, Bravo ended the innings with a flourish, striking a pulverizing straight drive for four and lofting a six for the winning runs.’
    • ‘Indeed, TJ left the Betty Mitchell with a flourish, as the award nominations, announced July 6, indicate.’
    • ‘He drove the mare ahead inside the furlong pole, getting first run on Peineve, who finished with a flourish, but was still a neck adrift at the line.’
    • ‘They opened with a flourish and they set about with gusto on the task of extracting three points from Waterford United for the second time this season.’
    • ‘Currie ended the match with a flourish and belatedly displayed the flair and pace that they undoubtedly possess.’
    • ‘Okay, so they seem to only have a knack for the final flourish; and it would be nice if they actually won a series for a change, but I'll take whatever they can muster at this point.’
    • ‘Colm Henry hit the post for Cloonacool on 25 minutes but Enniscrone-Kilglass finished the half with a flourish and two points from Gordon.’
    • ‘Lehmann, also in his final game, signed off with a flourish, his 69 runs making him Yorkshire's highest scoring batsman in league knockout cricket.’
    • ‘After a grim nine months spent recovering from shoulder surgery and trying to remember how to win matches, Henman finally wrapped up 2003 with a flourish.’
    • ‘Four minutes later midfielder Andy Hubbard shot the point of the half, a rare feat he was to repeat later in the game, but any chance of a revival went out the window as Kildare finished the half with a flourish.’
    • ‘But chastened Ayr came back with a flourish with a brilliant mismove try conceived on the training ground scored in front of the posts by Stephen Manning from a Lavelle pass.’
    • ‘Mayo finished with a flourish once more, hitting three points in the final five minutes, but it merely gave some respectability to the final scoreline in what was another heavy defeat.’
    • ‘The men in maroon were contemplating their first title since 1980 but Kilmeena finished with a flourish to destroy the Balla dream.’
  • 3Music
    A fanfare played by brass instruments.

    ‘a flourish of trumpets’
    • ‘The following day she was proclaimed by heralds with flourishes of trumpets at various places in London, to the stony disapproval of the citizens.’
    • ‘‘Eskimo Lament’ comes first, drenched in sombre piano and plucked guitar, before the arrival of gorgeous harmonies and trumpet flourishes.’
    • ‘I love the Candoli trumpet flourish used for a stop before Wynton's solo turn midway through the song.’
    • ‘By contrast, St Cecilia sweeps in on joyous flourishes from trumpets and drums, with rushing strings as buoyant as those that welcome Handel's Queen of Sheba.’
    • ‘The Basque Gabriel's Message (again in an arrangement by Harvey) is properly festive with flourishes in the trumpets to accompany the Annunciation.’
    peal of trumpets, flourish, fanfaronade, trumpet call, trumpet blare
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 An ornate musical passage.
      • ‘Tanto Tempo updates traditional bossa nova by adding subtle programmed beats, jazz flourishes and English and Brazilian vocals.’
      • ‘The subtle string flourishes and guitar parts in the background are what really make the song, though, as Rouse's voice is merely serviceable in the understated verses.’
      • ‘They turn out a flamboyant blend of jazz, folk, funk and classical guitar, with flourishes of Latin acoustic guitar of a most impressive standard.’
      • ‘As sudden musical flourishes precede and follow more tentative, delicate passages, so hope and anxiety seem to dance across the song's brightly colored sonic eggshell floor.’
      • ‘Both brothers like their father, musically speaking, are rather erratic instant effect with quack, ornamental flourishes that be tied down to ponderous vistar.’
    2. 3.2 An improvised addition played especially at the beginning or end of a composition.
      • ‘With a flourish and dramatic double-punch at the keys the music has taken over the room and his finale is performed in awed silence as a few people sip at their drinks, eyes affixed to the young man's back.’
      • ‘Once, imagining he was playing in front of an audience, he finished with a flourish, and stood up and bowed to the applause thundering in his ears.’
      • ‘For a single string instrument to take centre stage, as opposed to a mere flourish or adornment of a greater composition, it needs depth and commanding presence to fill the space.’
      • ‘For the songwriter looking to add more than a few twists to his compositions, or the arranger looking to add jazz flourishes to otherwise straightforward pop tunes, this certainly could be a fun book to consider.’


Middle English: from Old French floriss-, lengthened stem of florir, based on Latin florere, from flos, flor- ‘a flower’. The noun senses ‘ornamental curve’ and ‘florid expression’ come from an obsolete sense of the verb, ‘adorn’ (originally with flowers).