Meaning of “flow” in the English Dictionary

"flow" in British English

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flowverb [ I ]

uk /fləʊ/ us /floʊ/

flow verb [ I ] (MOVE)

B1 (especially of liquids, gases, or electricity) to move in one direction, especially continuously and easily:

Lava from the volcano was flowing down the hillside.
Many short rivers flow into the Pacific Ocean.
The river flows through three counties before flowing into the sea just south of here.
With fewer cars on the roads, traffic is flowing (= moving forward) more smoothly than usual.

More examples

  • Every day, 30 million gallons of untreated human waste flow from Ciudad Juarez into the Rio Grande.
  • The teacher drew a diagram showing how the blood flows through the heart.
  • There's a lovely stream that flows through their garden.
  • The road was blocked for two hours after the accident, but traffic is now flowing smoothly again.
  • The pipes creaked as water flowed through the system.

flownoun

uk /fləʊ/ us /floʊ/

flow noun (MOVEMENT)

B2 [ C usually singular ] the movement of something in one direction:

the flow of a river
the flow of traffic
the flow of blood

More examples

  • Ligatures are used in surgery to stop the flow of a bleeding artery.
  • The country's asylum laws were amended to staunch the flow of economic migrants.
  • They are broadening the bridge to speed up the flow of traffic.
  • She tied a handkerchief around the wound to stem the flow of blood.
  • Diets that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol tend to clog up our arteries, thereby reducing the flow of blood.

flow noun (CONTINUOUS NUMBER)

[ C usually singular ] a regular and quite large number of something:

There's been a steady flow of visitors.

[ S ] a situation in which something is produced or moved continuously:

the flow of ideas/information

More examples

  • The country's asylum laws were amended to staunch the flow of economic migrants.
  • The current structure does not facilitate efficient work flow.
  • They are worried that the flow of tourists could swell into an unmanageable torrent if there are no controls.
  • He's currently experiencing problems with his cash flow.
  • There is a stimulating flow of ideas between the departments.

(Definition of “flow” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"flow" in American English

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flowverb [ I ]

us /floʊ/

(esp. of liquids, gases, or electricity) to move in one direction, esp. continuously and easily:

Air flows over an aircraft’s wing faster than it flows under it.
Lava from the volcano was flowing down the hillside.
An electrical current flows from positive to negative.
Many rivers flow into the Pacific Ocean.
With fewer cars on the roads, traffic is flowing (= moving forward) more smoothly than usual.
fig. My thoughts flow more easily (= I can think more easily) if I work on a word processor.

Something can be said to flow if it hangs down loosely and attractively:

Her long, red hair flowed down over shoulders.

movement of a liquid:

This drug increases the flow of blood to the heart.
fig. Music interrupted the flow of the conversation (= the regular exchange between speakers).

earth science A flow is also large mass of material, such as lava (= melted rock from a volcano), that is flowing or has flowed in the past.

(Definition of “flow” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"flow" in Business English

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flowverb [ I ]

uk /fləʊ/ us

if money, goods, etc. flow, they move from one company, organization, or place to another in large amounts:

Capital must flow freely around the world in order to ensure international prosperity.
flow in/out/back As revenue comes in it will flow back to investors.
flow into/through/out of sth The money flowing into online advertising today is largely from direct marketing companies.

if discussions or ideas flow, people talk and exchange information in a relaxed way:

Ideas flow more easily in an atmosphere of trust.

flownoun [ C or U ]

uk /fləʊ/ us

a situation in which a large amount of money or goods moves from one company, organization, or place to another:

Portfolio investment flows generally equate to high interest rates.
a steady/constant flow of sth The company is in the enviable position of having no debt and a steady flow of revenue.
the flow of money/goods/resources State authorities welcome the flow of money from those seeking city contracts.

a situation in which information and ideas are exchanged between companies or organizations:

Improving the flow of information between buyers and sellers makes markets more efficient.
a flow of sth A shared sense of commitment to a project leads to a free flow of ideas and information.

(Definition of “flow” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)