v. flowed, flow·ing, flows
a. To move or run smoothly with unbroken continuity, as in the manner characteristic of a fluid.
b. To issue in a stream; pour forth: Sap flowed from the gash in the tree.
2. To circulate, as the blood in the body.
3. To move with a continual shifting of component particles: wheat flowing into the bin; traffic flowing through the tunnel.
4. To proceed steadily and easily: The preparations flowed smoothly.
5. To exhibit a smooth or graceful continuity: The poem's cadence flowed gracefully.
6. To hang loosely and gracefully: The cape flowed from his shoulders.
7. To rise. Used of the tide.
8. To arise; derive: Many conclusions flow from this hypothesis.
a. To be abundant; teem: coffers flowing with treasure; wine flowing at the celebration.
b. To move from one place to another in large numbers: Contributions flowed in from all parts of the country.
10. To menstruate.
11. To undergo plastic deformation without cracking or breaking. Used of rocks, metals, or minerals.
1. To release as a flow: trees flowing thin sap.
2. To cause to flow: "One of the real keys to success is developing a system where you can flow traffic to yourselves" (Marc Klee).
a. The act of flowing.
b. The smooth motion characteristic of fluids.
a. A stream or current.
b. A flood or overflow.
c. A residual mass that has stopped flowing: a hardened lava flow.
a. A continuous output or outpouring: a flow of ideas; produced a steady flow of stories.
b. A continuous movement or circulation: the flow of traffic; a flow of paperwork across his desk.
4. The amount that flows in a given period of time.
5. The rising of the tide.
6. Continuity and smoothness of appearance.
7. A general movement or tendency: a dissenter who went against the flow of opinion.
8. The sequence in which operations are performed.
9. An apparent ease or effortlessness of performance: "An athlete must learn to forget the details of his or her training to achieve the instinctive sense of flow that characterizes a champion" (Frederick Turner).
10. Menstrual discharge.
[Middle English flouen, from Old English flōwan; see pleu- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: flow, current, flood, rush1, stream, tide1
These nouns denote something suggestive of running water, as in power of movement or abundance: a flow of thought; the current of history; a flood of ideas; a rush of sympathy; a stream of complaints; a tide of immigration. See Also Synonyms at stem1.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.