Flash Flash (fl[a^]sh), v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Flashed} (fl[a^]sht); p. pr. & vb. n. {Flashing}.] [Cf. OE. flaskien, vlaskien to pour, sprinkle, dial. Sw. flasa to blaze, E. flush, flare.] 1. To burst or break forth with a sudden and transient flood of flame and light; as, the lighting flashes vividly; the powder flashed. [1913 Webster]

2. To break forth, as a sudden flood of light; to burst instantly and brightly on the sight; to show a momentary brilliancy; to come or pass like a flash. [1913 Webster]

Names which have flashed and thundered as the watch words of unnumbered struggles. --Talfourd. [1913 Webster]

The object is made to flash upon the eye of the mind. --M. Arnold. [1913 Webster]

A thought flashed through me, which I clothed in act. --Tennyson. [1913 Webster]

3. To burst forth like a sudden flame; to break out violently; to rush hastily. [1913 Webster]

Every hour He flashes into one gross crime or other. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

{flash in the pan}, a failure or a poor performance, especially after a normal or auspicious start; also, a person whose initial performance appears augur success but who fails to achieve anything notable. From 4th {pan}, n., sense 3 -- part of a flintlock. Occasionally, the powder in the pan of a flintlock would flash without conveying the fire to the charge, and the ball would fail to be discharged. Thus, a good or even spectacular beginning that eventually achieves little came to be called a flash in the pan.

{To flash in the pan}, to fail of success, especially after a normal or auspicious start. [Colloq.] See under {Flash}, a burst of light. --Bartlett. [1913 Webster +PJC]

Syn: {Flash}, {Glitter}, {Gleam}, {Glisten}, {Glister}.

Usage: Flash differs from glitter and gleam, denoting a flood or wide extent of light. The latter words may express the issuing of light from a small object, or from a pencil of rays. Flash differs from other words, also, in denoting suddenness of appearance and disappearance. Flashing differs from exploding or disploding in not being accompanied with a loud report. To glisten, or glister, is to shine with a soft and fitful luster, as eyes suffused with tears, or flowers wet with dew. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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