The word flow has many shades of meaning but most involve the steady movement of something. Water can flow in a river, electricity can flow through a wire, and talk might also flow as you sit and chat with friends.

The verb flow often describes the movement of fluids, such as water or even blood, but it can also describe other things that move in a constant stream. When you get that high-paying job, money might flow into your bank account. Until then, offers for help might flow in when you need to pay your credit card bill. Flow has a noun form as well. You might watch the flow of traffic on the street.

Primary Meanings of flow

move along, of liquids
the motion characteristic of fluids (liquids or gases)
be abundantly present
undergo menstruation
the monthly discharge of blood from the uterus of nonpregnant women from puberty to menopause
Full Definitions of flow

v move along, of liquids

“Water flowed into the cave”
course, feed, run
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flow freely
gush, jet
issue in a jet; come out in a jet; stream or spring forth
surge, tide
rise or move forward
move through a space, circuit or system, returning to the starting point
eddy, purl, swirl, whirl, whirlpool
flow in a circular current, of liquids
run off, waste
run off as waste
run down
move downward
flow in a spurt
run out, spill
flow, run or fall out and become lost
stream, well out
flow freely and abundantly
dribble, filter, trickle
run or flow slowly, as in drops or in an unsteady stream
drain, run out
flow off gradually
ooze, seep
pass gradually or leak through or as if through small openings
flow in small streams
flush down, wash down
flow freely
circulate through and freshen
stream in jets, of liquids
gush, spirt, spout, spurt
gush forth in a sudden stream or jet
pour or rush back
leach, percolate
permeate or penetrate gradually
brim over, overflow, overrun, run over, well over
flow or run over (a limit or brim)
Type of:
move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion

v move or progress freely as if in a stream

“The crowd flowed out of the stadium”
cockle, riffle, ripple, ruffle, undulate
stir up (water) so as to form ripples
transpirate, transpire
pass through the tissue or substance or its pores or interstices, as of gas
Type of:
move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion

v fall or flow in a certain way

“Her long black hair flowed down her back”
fall, hang

v cause to flow

“The artist flowed the washes on the paper”

n the motion characteristic of fluids (liquids or gases)

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fountain, jet
an artificially produced flow of water
ebb, reflux
the outward flow of the tide
backflow, backflowing
a flow that returns toward its source
air flow, airflow, flow of air
the flow of air
current, stream
a steady flow of a fluid (usually from natural causes)
freshet, spate
the occurrence of a water flow resulting from sudden rain or melting snow
overflow, overspill, runoff
the occurrence of surplus liquid (as water) exceeding the limit or capacity
drippage, dripping
a liquid (as water) that flows in drops (as from the eaves of house)
discharge, outpouring, run
the pouring forth of a fluid
flux, fluxion
a flow or discharge
ooze, oozing, seepage
the process of seeping
dribble, drip, trickle
flowing in drops; the formation and falling of drops of liquid
the occurrence of a flow of water (as from a pipe)
flush, gush, outpouring
a sudden rapid flow (as of water)
rush, spate, surge, upsurge
a sudden forceful flow
tidal current, tidal flow
the water current caused by the tides
rip current, riptide
a strong surface current flowing outwards from a shore
undercurrent, undertide
a current below the surface of a fluid
backflow of blood through a defective heart valve
torrent, violent stream
a violently fast stream of water (or other liquid)
exudation, transudation
the process of exuding; the slow escape of liquids from blood vessels through pores or breaks in the cell membranes
intravenous drip
slow continuous drip introducing solutions intravenously (a drop at a time)
eddy, twist
a miniature whirlpool or whirlwind resulting when the current of a fluid doubles back on itself
maelstrom, vortex, whirlpool
a powerful circular current of water (usually the result of conflicting tides)
jet, spirt, spurt, squirt
the occurrence of a sudden discharge (as of liquid)
escape, leak, leakage, outflow
the discharge of a fluid from some container
debris storm, debris surge
the sudden spread of dust and debris from a collapsing building
a forceful forward rush or flow
a swelling rush of anything
ocean current
the steady flow of surface ocean water in a prevailing direction
Type of:
change of location, travel
a movement through space that changes the location of something

n the act of flowing or streaming; continuous progression

release, spill, spillage
the act of allowing a fluid to escape
flood, outpouring, overflow
a large flow
flow under pressure
Type of:
motion, move, movement
the act of changing location from one place to another

n any uninterrupted stream or discharge

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airstream, backwash, race, slipstream, wash
the flow of air that is driven backwards by an aircraft propeller
turbulent flow
flow in which the velocity at any point varies erratically
streamline flow
flow of a gas or liquid in which the velocity at any point is relatively steady
flow into something (as a container)
gradual internal motion or deformation of a solid body (as by heat)
inflow, influx
the process of flowing in
effluence, efflux, outflow
the process of flowing out
turbulent water with swells of considerable size
laminar flow
nonturbulent streamline flow in parallel layers (laminae)
inpour, inpouring, inrush
an inflow
refilling, renewal, replacement, replenishment
filling again by supplying what has been used up
Type of:
action, activity, natural action, natural process
a process existing in or produced by nature (rather than by the intent of human beings)

n something that resembles a flowing stream in moving continuously

“the museum had planned carefully for the flow of visitors”
Type of:
a state of change

n the amount of fluid that flows in a given time

flow rate, rate of flow
cardiac output
the amount of blood pumped out by the ventricles in a given period of time
Type of:
a magnitude or frequency relative to a time unit

n dominant course (suggestive of running water) of successive events or ideas

“the flow of thought”
current, stream
Type of:
course, line
a connected series of events or actions or developments

v be abundantly present

“The champagne flowed at the wedding”
Type of:
be, exist
have an existence, be extant

v cover or swamp with water

lap, lave, wash
wash or flow against
Type of:
cover with liquid, usually water

v undergo menstruation

Type of:
bleed, hemorrhage, shed blood
lose blood from one's body

n the monthly discharge of blood from the uterus of nonpregnant women from puberty to menopause

catamenia, menses, menstruation, menstruum, period
hypermenorrhea, menorrhagia
abnormally heavy or prolonged menstruation; can be a symptom of uterine tumors and can lead to anemia if prolonged
abnormally light or infrequent menstruation
Type of:
discharge, emission, expelling
any of several bodily processes by which substances go out of the body

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