Definition of flow in US English:



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  • 1(of a fluid, gas, or electricity) move along or out steadily and continuously in a current or stream.

    ‘from here the river flows north’
    ‘ventilation channels keep the air flowing’
    ‘a cross-current of electricity seemed to flow between them’
    • ‘First the flow is minimal, but then as more and more water flows out, the current gets faster and faster.’
    • ‘And reverse irradiation resulted in a reverse of the flow, water flowing down and air up.’
    • ‘The external fuel tank, for instance, is full of oxygen and hydrogen cooled to - 400 F. to make the gases flow as liquids.’
    • ‘The higher the amount of water pressure, the more water will flow through the hose.’
    • ‘By studying it, there were able to tell that it had once had liquid water flowing through it.’
    • ‘I plug it in, set it, and as long as there is electricity flowing through power lines, it will run forever it seems.’
    • ‘I feel like low voltage electricity is flowing through my blood, gentle convulsions rippling through my skin and muscle, as my body is making its own judgment of the situation.’
    • ‘The condensed liquid water flows to a separate storage chamber.’
    • ‘As the hot, high-pressure gas flows through the condenser, it radiates heat into the ambient air and cools down.’
    • ‘The liquid blue nectar was flowing like water until we bounced over to Metronome.’
    • ‘Exhaust gases flow through the CO 2 sorbent bed before being released into the atmosphere.’
    • ‘Return gas flows back through the heat exchanger to pre-cool the incoming high pressure gas mixture.’
    • ‘The quantity of a rich component contained in an exhaust gas flowing into a catalyst during a period of time period is calculated.’
    • ‘It cost about €15 million, and now electricity flows in both directions over the border.’
    • ‘This free electricity will flow indefinitely, without much, or any maintenance.’
    • ‘Red liquid flowed in tiny streams from his clenched fist, but he didn't seem to notice.’
    • ‘Huygens' data provide strong evidence for liquids flowing on Titan.’
    • ‘However, if liquid water flowed on Mars in the distant past, the climate might have been very different from what it is today.’
    • ‘By reversing the direction electricity flows through a magnet the poles can be reversed.’
    • ‘Electricity flows through the tube when the light is turned on.’
    run, move, go along, course, pass, proceed, glide, slide, drift, circulate, trickle, dribble, drizzle, spill, gurgle, babble, ripple
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of the sea or a tidal river) move toward the land; rise.
      Compare with ebb
      • ‘It is in an intimate valley formed by a stream flowing into a tidal basin.’
      • ‘The locals said that the backwaters flow in at different times each day.’
      • ‘Now the calm river flows between the backwaters and wooded bluffs in an oversized valley.’
  • 2with adverbial of direction Go from one place to another in a steady stream, typically in large numbers.

    ‘the firm is hoping the orders will keep flowing in’
    • ‘When the wall came down 15 years ago, East Germans were promised their lives would be enriched with new homes, money and jobs flowing in from free Europe.’
    • ‘Today books and movies are flowing in from around the world.’
    • ‘And the pace has never really slowed, with regular orders for thousands of soaps flowing in from the US, Asia and Australia.’
    • ‘Entries have also been flowing in for the Young Achiever of the Year Award, and for the short story, creative writing and photography competitions.’
    • ‘Companies are hiring again and projects are flowing in.’
    • ‘In fact, he's go to, if US dollars are to keep flowing in.’
    • ‘We have troops flowing in from Alabama, Kansas, just about every state we're bringing troops in.’
    • ‘Pledges for Geraldton's proposed community bank are flowing in and the working group behind the project remains optimistic the bank will become a reality.’
    • ‘Reports of human rights violations implicating the Army keep flowing in from conflict zones in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, Maluku and Papua.’
    • ‘A steady stream of regulars too started flowing in, delighted at eating more, paying less.’
    • ‘In Mazar-e-Sharif, election officials said today they had not yet received ballots that were supposed to be flowing in from five northern provinces.’
    • ‘Last Thursday, a steady trickle of supporters flowed into the stadium shop to buy tickets for today's game against Rangers at Pittodrie.’
    • ‘And after three months of rehearsals, the rest of the 21-strong cast would be right to expect the accolades to come flowing in from the audience.’
    • ‘In this federal election year, with three marginal SA city-based seats, pledges of support from politicians are flowing in.’
    • ‘Other assistance and offers of help keep flowing in.’
    • ‘With aid and arms flowing in, the ruling group was interested not in fostering economic development but in self-enrichment.’
    • ‘Updates on the violence were flowing in from across the city.’
    • ‘And suddenly those who had labelled him as a ‘flop hero’ re-adopted him and offers started flowing in.’
    • ‘Bangalore is facing a serious shortage of retail real estate space despite investments of Rs 500 to Rs 600 crore flowing in since January.’
    • ‘He said prices would likely rise to meet the demand and to limit an overload of tourists if Americans start flowing in.’
    1. 2.1 Proceed or be produced smoothly, continuously, and effortlessly.
      ‘talk flowed freely around the table’
      • ‘As anyone who's been to an African-American barbershop knows, the conversation flows freely.’
      • ‘Novels seemed to flow effortlessly out of him, including masterpieces such as Crome Yellow and Point Counter Point.’
      • ‘Wa Luruli's film has a light touch and the story flows effortlessly.’
      • ‘No one could understand or agree with his techniques, which seemed to flow so effortlessly.’
      • ‘Through the day we addressed ten meetings, and with each talk I give, my thoughts flow more easily and effortlessly.’
      • ‘The pace of service was spot on; each course flowed effortlessly into the next.’
      • ‘Johnson had a blazing fastball that flowed effortlessly from his exaggerated sidearm delivery.’
      • ‘There was little more than a rather brutish Ploughman's to tempt them, foodwise, but that didn't stop the wine, and conversation, from flowing freely.’
      • ‘As information flows more freely and people become increasingly open-minded, sex is no longer a taboo subject.’
      • ‘Information is flowing freely, which it has never done before.’
      • ‘It's pure Telangana dialect that flows effortlessly.’
      • ‘But even his words flowed effortlessly and mesmerised the audience.’
      • ‘The names of roads, intersections, and neighbourhoods in several cities flow effortlessly from his mouth.’
      result, proceed, arise, follow, ensue, derive, stem, accrue
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 (of clothing or hair) hang loosely in an easy and graceful manner.
      ‘her red hair flowed over her shoulders’
      • ‘He smiled back at the picture, marveling at the way Samantha's powder pink dress flowed over her body.’
      • ‘Her legs went forever, her hair flowed with the cloak as the wind caught both and lifted them slightly, teasingly.’
      • ‘Her jet-black hair flowed gracefully as she strode toward him.’
      • ‘The whole way there her long, shiny black hair flowed in the gentle breeze.’
      • ‘They claimed the graceful and curving hull looked like hair flowing back from the bow.’
      • ‘The dress flowed over her slender body wonderfully and Christy knew that this would appease Charles.’
      • ‘He had a simple gold circlet and his light brown hair flowed over his shoulders on his white cape.’
      • ‘Her long blonde hair flowed over her shoulders and the tight black leather outfit showed off her aforementioned attributes quite well.’
      • ‘From the shadows Jenna appeared, her long black hair flowing gracefully down her back.’
      • ‘A slight glow surrounded her, her hair and dress flowed around her in an unfelt wind.’
      • ‘She walked slowly down the hallway, her raven hair flowing behind her with beauty and grace.’
      • ‘Every step she took, crimson robe flowing gracefully behind her, took her closer to her fate.’
      • ‘Her long brown hair flowed over her shoulders, and her face looked so peaceful, like nothing had ever happened.’
      • ‘In the back, his purple hair flowed loosely, hair restraint gone.’
      • ‘Her hair flowed over her shoulders like a curtain that hid their faces from the world, only left to stare at each other.’
      • ‘Dark hair flowed over her shoulders, down to the small of her back.’
      • ‘The woman had her hands on her hips, shouting rapidly as her long dark hair flowed in the breeze behind her.’
      • ‘The gown flowed over her hips and down to the floor with a three-foot train trailing behind.’
      • ‘Her hair was loosely flowing around her shoulders, its flaxen curls bouncing gently every time she moved.’
      • ‘His long black hair covered his white feathered cape, and her long black hair flowed over her white deerskin dress.’
    3. 2.3 Be available in copious quantities.
      ‘their talk and laughter grew louder as the excellent brandy flowed’
      • ‘There is more information available, more information flowing.’
      • ‘Logically, all OEMs covet a piece of the prestige markets as that is where the money flows in great quantities.’
      • ‘As copious wine flowed and retro disco music pounded, we were soon without doubt The Greatest Dancers In The World.’
      • ‘The production models are now flowing and available for purchase, and we were pleased to get one of the first production units available.’
      • ‘At least the torrential rain had stopped pouring outside, while the never-ending supply of the usual beverages flowed copiously inside.’
    4. 2.4flow from Result from; be caused by.
      ‘there are certain advantages that may flow from that decision’
      • ‘The result can be disproportionately strong governments whose power flows from American money and weaponry.’
      • ‘The principal point in issue flows from the fact that Braymist, the vendor, was not in existence at the time the agreement was signed.’
      • ‘Everything (including profits) flows from this core value of serving the users.’
      • ‘Manferdelli's presentation is however a good entry point to the debate, as many of the other issues flow from it.’
      • ‘The reasoning in this decision flows from the assumption that the conduct of the parties should be regarded as physical violence.’
      • ‘Yes, and it was often quite easy to identify a business advantage flowing from acting as a member of a group.’
      • ‘No, we are not suggesting that, your Honour, but we say that something flows from the decision that then flowed.’
      • ‘That is, intuitive linear thinking assumes that great events flow from solemn decisions of great magnitude.’
      • ‘That advantage flows from the existence of a certificate rather than the identity of the holder of the certificate.’
      • ‘That is exactly and fairly what flows from the Full Court decision.’
      • ‘Well, if market power is no longer the advantage that flows from monopoly or near monopoly, what is it now?’
      • ‘In our submission, that directly flows from the result of the decision in Lim.’
      • ‘Other problems, less visible, but just as pressing, flowed from the funding issue.’
      • ‘No breach of a Convention right has been alleged to arise as a result of the consequences flowing from the mistakes which were made in these cases.’
      • ‘However, my comments have all flowed from the original overriding brief to Masons.’
      • ‘That work is commencing, and any decisions that flow from that will be made at the appropriate time.’
      • ‘The next term will be blighted by all that flows from that.’
      • ‘This conclusion arises from the limited benefits which flow from the project.’
      • ‘Much of the hot air in the origins debate flows from the confusion between MetaN and MethN.’
      • ‘That must not deflect me from making the proper order today about costs flowing from the decision which I have reached.’
      have its origins in, arise from, originate from, spring from, derive from, come from, be rooted in, emanate from, issue from, flow from, proceed from, result from, be consequent on
      View synonyms
  • 3(of a solid) undergo a permanent change of shape under stress, without melting.


  • 1in singular The action or fact of moving along in a steady, continuous stream.

    ‘the flow of water into the pond’
    • ‘Further reading turns up that a steady flow of water acted as a moderator for the reaction, keeping it at a low but steady burn in a sustained reaction.’
    • ‘Out of nowhere, tears started bubbling up and rolling down my cheeks, a steady flow of salty water from deep inside me.’
    • ‘The very next day, a freak summer windstorm clogged the water flow with leaves, flooding the flanking fields in London's Hyde Park.’
    • ‘Had we had a continuous flow of water, we would have done it much faster.’
    • ‘The tap was left running and the steady flow of water crept across the wooden floor.’
    • ‘Nicholas tried to grab the edge of the shaft and escape the stream, but the water flow was too powerful and he was carried along.’
    • ‘A storage pond was built to guarantee a continuous flow of water to the mill in dry periods when the water level in the stream became too low.’
    • ‘A dam controls the continuous flow of water in a river, whereas stopbanks may well be alongside a river that has no water in it at all.’
    • ‘The spiral wave inhibits normal waves, just as eddies in a stream inhibit the smooth flow of water.’
    • ‘And so firefighters were at the ready with what they dubbed a foam attack, a steady flow of foam and water to blanket the blaze and hopefully smother it.’
    • ‘The second fan generated a semblance of underwater movement in Atlantic, scrim rippling along the flow.’
    • ‘It has now been shown in many studies that the Gulf Stream brings the warm flow of water that helps keep our weather hospitable.’
    • ‘A nuclear power reactor needs a steady flow of cooling water.’
    • ‘Villagers remained stranded as they could do nothing about the continuous flow of water but wait until it subsided.’
    • ‘This is because carp generally like to patrol in the edge, out of the flow and along the drop-off into the deeper water of the central channel.’
    movement, moving, locomotion, rise and fall, shifting, stirring, to and fro, toing and froing, coming and going
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The rate or speed at which something flows.
      ‘under the ford the river backs up, giving a deep sluggish flow’
      • ‘At low shear rates, the flow can promote RBC aggregation, whereas, at higher shear rates it rather has a dispersing effect.’
      • ‘The chemical composition of the gastric contents regulates the bulk emptying rate, the flow being slowed especially by lipids.’
      • ‘But residents said that, in the meantime, the agency should dredge the river to speed up the flow and reduce the risks.’
      • ‘From the flow patterns the speed at this new position can be deduced and the procedure can be repeated.’
    2. 1.2 The rise of a tide or a river.
      Compare with ebb
      • ‘Remember that the ray will use their width broadside against the tide during the fight and you need the power to drag them back against the tide flow.’
      • ‘They would not have had to worry about the river flow at all.’
      • ‘The narrow road follows the edge of the fjord-like Loch Long which can run like a river, especially at its narrowest point when filling up on the flow tide or draining on the ebb.’
      • ‘They will also use the tide flow to kite away from you.’
  • 2A steady, continuous stream of something.

    ‘she eased the car into the flow of traffic’
    • ‘It does not circulate honestly through the economy, and in fact disrupts the smooth flow of money through the country.’
    • ‘In the staging area of an overseas theater of operations, the flow of supplies competes with the flow of vehicles to add to congestion and confusion.’
    • ‘There are no regulated pedestrian crossings and the flow of traffic is constant.’
    • ‘Some writers, such as Jonathan Swift, wanted us to follow the French example and create an academy to regulate and limit the flow of new words.’
    • ‘But the commuter train is half empty, the flow of traffic at rush hour is uncannily smooth.’
    • ‘She willed herself not to go on, but she couldn't stop the flow of words.’
    • ‘The Army had managed to moderate the flow of supplies into South Vietnam and keep the enemy off balance.’
    • ‘The logical division of every sentence was clarified by musical cadences which interrupted the flow of words.’
    • ‘He and his men were to penetrate the U.S. defenses and disrupt the flow of supplies heading to their front line.’
    • ‘Neither side moved or said a word, as the flow of men stopped and silence took hold of the battlegrounds.’
    • ‘Part of the problem lay in the fact that writing the book was a happy experience; no serious obstacle interrupted the flow of words.’
    • ‘He was clearly a little hesitant about sharing his history with anyone for that matter, and she shouldn't interrupt the flow of his words lest it should ebb.’
    • ‘What happens to stop the flow of words, and what can make it start again?’
    • ‘The resale of grain to villages which claimed to be deficient in food supplies hampered the flow of grain to the cities.’
    • ‘Since Walter self-published Beer in 1999, the flow of words has been virtually torrential.’
    • ‘In wartime, the amount of stocks in any area might be affected by air raid damage, or the flow of supplies might be reduced temporarily by transport difficulties.’
    • ‘I was pacing the room back and forth unable to control the flow of emotions rushing through me.’
    • ‘Normally, your PC's power supply controls the flow of electricity from the wall socket into the system.’
    • ‘His intensity is constant, the flow of words an eternal torrent.’
    • ‘I wanted to plug my ears or do something to stop the flow of words, but I knew I had to hear it, so I sat quietly and listened.’
    • ‘Dufour's image freezes from time to time, chopping her movements and interrupting the flow of her words.’
    movement, motion, course, passage, current, flux, drift, circulation
    View synonyms
  • 3The gradual permanent deformation of a solid under stress, without melting.

    • ‘As the degree of dynamic recovery increases, the hot flow stress decreases and the ductility increases.’
    • ‘It involves the application of a compressive stress, which exceeds the flow stress of the metal.’
    • ‘The study of plasticity is concerned with the relationship between metal flow and applied stress.’
    • ‘Analysis of seismic waves show that the material that makes up the mantle behaves as a plastic - a substance with the properties of a solid but flows under pressure.’


  • go with the flow

    • informal Be relaxed and accept a situation, rather than trying to alter or control it.

      • ‘Don't worry or blame yourself for things out of your control - go with the flow.’
      • ‘I went with the flow, and discovered simple delight in empathising with the fresh and heady Helen.’
      • ‘So, it's far better to go with the flow, or rather the crawl.’
      • ‘Just go with the flow and you will be very quickly accepted as part of ‘the family’.’
      • ‘I was really loving it being passed around the crowd having no control over anything, just having to go with the flow.’
      • ‘At the same time, you may end up with images that are far from the truth… so I recommend just going with the flow and not prompting a situation.’
      • ‘It wouldn't be much of a movie if the main character simply went with the flow and accepted life's choices.’
      • ‘Sometimes it's better to go with the flow rather than try and emulate something from a bygone era.’
      • ‘As long as you are fit and are able to mentally tune in to the game and go with the flow, and adapt, it is fine.’
      • ‘Thankfully, I knew that I had to go with the flow and accept the experience for what it was.’
      • ‘Instead, he gets ever closer to his adversaries by simply going with the flow of events, reacting to each situation in which he finds himself.’
      • ‘So the next time a disembodied voice takes control of your television signal, just go with the flow and enjoy it.’
      • ‘Unaccustomed as I was to local barbering practice I went with the flow.’
      • ‘Depends on the situation - sometimes going with the flow is just easier.’
      • ‘Rune herself had no idea what to do now, so she resolved to do the only thing she could in such a situation: go with the flow.’
      • ‘I think it's better to go with the flow like a good river going to its destiny rather than trying to cause a stir.’
      • ‘I am aware of this effect of Isa and I do not panic, but like the force of nature, I yield and go with the flow.’
      • ‘Well, for one thing, the old conservatism relied on tradition and history; it was cautious, slow and moderate; it went with the flow.’
      • ‘I've also done taking it easy and letting ‘my career’, such as it is, just kind of drift along, out of my control, going with the flow in a who-knows-what's around-the-corner kind of way.’
      • ‘It was easier to go with the flow until I found out more about my situation.’
  • in full flow

    • 1Talking fluently and easily and showing no sign of stopping.

      • ‘He is a reserved man and in any case, G.P. in full flow took some stopping.’
      • ‘I've been craving WORDS all day and now I'm in full flow; there is apparently no stopping me.’
      1. 1.1Performing vigorously and enthusiastically.
        ‘Richardson was run out when he was in full flow’
        • ‘Hassett, who was now in full flow, took a side line ball to John Lynch but he was fouled and Colin O'Connor levelled matters so that honours were even at - 2 apiece at the end of the first quarter.’
        • ‘Caley Thistle were in full flow now, and after Dargo's goalbound header was deflected wide, they forced four corners in succession, though they could not take advantage of any of them.’
        • ‘But give a genuine cricket aesthete the option of seeing either of you in full flow at separate venues, and his gate-money will gravitate toward the Ganguly grace rather than the Tendulkar tonk.’
        • ‘Brennan was in full flow now and showed the experience he gained from the senior Laois team to set up attacks, one of which led to a Sean O'Shea point.’
        • ‘With runs in hand, the follow - on target still distant and Gilchrist in full flow, Vaughan might have been tempted to match Australia's machismo and keep attacking.’
        • ‘Twins Mark and Michael O'Brien set the ball rolling, Stephen Kelly shot the third after terrific team play and Joe Murphy finished another sweet move and the Saints were in full flow.’
        • ‘I think the best thing to happen last week was that Wales were in full flow.’
        • ‘You wondered how Livingston would react to this and they rapidly fell behind, with Naismith in full flow, sensing blood and burying the ball from 15 yards low inside the near upright.’
        • ‘When he's in full flow, the thick-set, black-clad Geordie is a joy to watch - even if that breathless spontaneity sometimes throws his scripted material into leaden relief.’
        • ‘In an instant Kilrossanty were in full flow, commanding all over the field, and steadily putting the squeeze on a now increasingly beleaguered opposing defence.’
        • ‘Expect Pat and the lads to be in full flow performing a wide range of songs for dancing, including their popular hit, The Old Timers' Waltz.’
        • ‘Intercut are preparations for a mission, footage of jets whooshing off and flying in, the guys taking time out in the rec room, praying, at one point, even with a full gospel service in full flow.’
        • ‘‘Where's the champagne,’ one ingrate queried as we fled the rain, beckoned into the south Dublin rail depot by a jazz band in full flow.’
        • ‘The performer in Rachel is in full flow in Cosi Fan Tutte after a difficult opening night.’
        • ‘Castleisland were now in full flow with Roche and Huggard having grabbed the initiative and it was Roche who shot over after 15 minutes following good work by Geaney.’
        • ‘His legion of fans were willing to ignore his much-cited failings (not a good kicker, shaky on defence, slow to turn) because he was a breathtaking sight when in full flow.’
        • ‘Although Halifax replied after five minutes York were soon in full flow again with goals from Alex Cockram and Alistair Brennan.’
        • ‘Be it the handing over of flowers to the jail security staff or getting ‘rakhi’ tied from women NBA activists or putting flowers into her trimmed hair, the writer was in full flow.’
        • ‘The intimacy and immediacy that a chamber production of Madama Butterfly can create bodes well dramatically, but will it compensate for the absence of a Puccini orchestra in full flow?’
        • ‘He's Super League material and if he gets in full flow around the ruck area he will cause a lot of problems.’
  • in mid flow

    • In the process of talking fluently.

      ‘the diplomats stopped her in mid flow, explaining they had to go to an important meeting’
      • ‘He was actually in mid-flow when I introduced myself.’
      • ‘Observe quietly as we catch his healthy self-love presently in mid flow.’
      • ‘Robinson was invariably speaking as the programme ended, and the producers would be required to fade him out in mid-flow.’
      • ‘I simply yell "see ya" and hit the end call button, cutting him off in mid flow.’
      • ‘I have discovered though, by listening to how some of my other mates handle this, that there are a couple of great ways to cut this off in mid flow.’
      • ‘The real thing I love most about blogging is that I get to talk about ME without someone telling me to shut up whilst I'm in mid flow.’
      • ‘In mid flow of a mighty row with his agency partner, the phone rang.’
      • ‘The host seems to be taken by surprise by the commercials and has to cut the guest off in mid flow.’
      • ‘Violet is waiting to interject, but she knows better than to cut him off in mid-flow.’
      • ‘My tutor - I shan't name him - stopped me in mid-flow, shaking his head.’


Old English flōwan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vloeien, also to flood.