flash

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in a/the flash of an/the eye

So quickly as to seem almost imperceptible (i.e., in the space of time it takes a person to blink). In the flash of an eye, the home team has taken total control of this match. Working on Wall Street, you get used to massive financial changes happening in a flash of the eye.
See also: eye, flash, of

flash in the pan

Someone or something whose success or popularity is short-lived. With only one hit song, it was obvious that the young pop star was going to be just another flash in the pan. The new startup created a lot of buzz, but it ended up being just another flash in the pan, out of business after just two years.
See also: flash, pan

like a flash

Very quickly. Once I saw that swarm of bees, I took off like a flash in the opposite direction.
See also: flash, like

flash a smile (at someone)

Fig. to smile quickly and perhaps briefly at someone. She flashed a smile at me as if she recognized me.
See also: flash, smile

flash across something

 
1. Lit. [for something bright] to move quickly across something. The telephone number flashed across the television screen too fast for me to copy it down. The spotlight flashed across the audience, blinding me as it went by.
2. Fig. [for an idea or image] to move quickly through one's mind. A solution to the problem suddenly flashed across my mind. Thoughts of food flashed across my mind, and I began to be very hungry.
See also: across, flash

flash back (to someone or something)

to return briefly to a view of someone or something in the past. (In films, literature, and television.) The story suddenly flashed back to Tom when he was a child. The story flashed back to Tom's childhood.
See also: back, flash

flash back (to someone or something)

to return briefly to a view of someone or something in the past. (In films, literature, and television.) The story suddenly flashed back to Tom when he was a child. The story flashed back to Tom's childhood.
See also: back, flash

flash in the pan

Fig. someone or something that draws a lot of attention for a very brief time. I'm afraid that my success as a painter was just a flash in the pan. Tom had hoped to be a major film star, but his career was only a flash in the pan.
See also: flash, pan

flash into one's mind

Fig. [for an idea or image] to enter one's mind for an instant. (See also flash through one's mind) A brilliant idea flashed into her mind, and she wrote it down. When the idea flashed into my mind, I closed my eyes and tried to forget it.
See also: flash, mind

flash into view

Fig. to move quickly into view. Suddenly, a doe and her fawn flashed into view. A bright parrot flashed into view and squawked raucously.
See also: flash, view

flash off

[for a light] to go off suddenly. (See also flash on.) The light flashed off and it was dark for a few minutes. When the lights flashed off, I was setting my watch.
See also: flash, off

flash on

[for a light] to turn on suddenly. The light flashed on and woke us up. When the light flashed on, I had just been getting to sleep.
See also: flash, on

flash on someone or something

[for a light] to shine on someone or something suddenly or in bursts. The orange neon light flashed on John's face, making him look quite strange. The light flashed on the window shade, startling the occupants of the room.
See also: flash, on

flash on something

Sl. to remember something suddenly and vividly. Then I flashed on a great idea. I was trying to flash on her name, but I couldn't bring it to mind.
See also: flash, on

flash out

[for a light] to shine out of something suddenly or in bursts. The light flashed out, signaling us to stay away from the rocks. Under the door, we saw a light flashing out. Someone was watching television in that room.
See also: flash, out

flash something around

to display something so everyone can see it. (Usually something one would hold in one's hand.) Don't flash your money around on the streets. She flashed around the pictures of her grandchildren every chance she got.
See also: around, flash

flash something at someone or something

 
1. Lit. to shine a light quickly on someone or something. Larry flashed a light at Frank to verify his identity. We flashed the light at each doorway, looking for the address we had been sent to.
2. Fig. to show something, such as a badge, to someone or a group quickly. The cop flashed his badge at the suspect. The security officer came in and flashed his badge at the board of directors.
See also: flash

flash something up (some place)

to shine a light upwards toward something. Flash your light up into the tree. She flashed up her light at the cat in the tree. Gloria flashed the light up.
See also: flash, up

flash through one's mind

Fig. [for an idea or image] to move quickly through one's mind. (See also flash into one's mind) Suddenly, a great idea flashed through my mind. The same idea flashed through all of our minds at once.
See also: flash, mind

flash with anger

 and flash with recognition; flash with eagerness
[for someone's eyes] to "glimmer" or seem to communicate a particular quality or excitement. Her green eyes flashed with anger. Ellen's eyes flashed with recognition when she saw me.
See also: anger, flash

in a flash

Fig. quickly; immediately. I'll be there in a flash. It happened in a flash. Suddenly my wallet was gone.
See also: flash

*quick as a wink

 and *quick as a flash; *quick as (greased) lightning; *swift as lightning
very quickly. (*Also: as ~.) As quick as a wink, the thief took the lady's purse. I'll finish this work quick as a flash. Quick as greased lightning, the thief stole my wallet.
See also: quick, wink

a flash in the pan

briefly successful or popular At first, some of the major record labels thought rock ’n’ roll was just a flash in the pan.
Usage notes: sometimes used in the form no flash in the pan (successful or popular for more than a brief period): This trend is no flash in the pan.
See also: flash, pan

in a flash

suddenly She remembered the answer in a flash. I heard her scream and in a flash was back in the house.
See also: flash

a flash in the pan

something that happens only once or for a short time and will not be repeated We're hoping that this is a long-term opportunity, and not just a flash in the pan.
See also: flash, pan

as quick as a flash/wink

  also as quick as lightning
if you do something as quick as a flash, you do it very quickly Quick as a flash, he snatched the book and ran out of the room.
See also: flash, quick

flash in the pan

An effort or person that promises great success but fails. For example, His second novel proved to be a flash in the pan, or We had high hopes for the new director, but she was a flash in the pan. This metaphoric term alludes to the 17th-century flintlock musket, which could be fired only when the flash of the priming powder in the lockpan ignited the charge in the bore. When it failed to ignite, there was only a flash in the pan and the gun did not shoot.
See also: flash, pan

in a flash

Also, in a jiffy or second or trice . Quickly, immediately. For example, I'll be with you in a flash, or He said he'd be done in a jiffy, or I'll be off the phone in a second, or I felt a drop or two, and in a trice there was a downpour. The first idiom alludes to a flash of lightning and dates from about 1800. The word jiffy, meaning "a short time," is of uncertain origin and dates from the late 1700s (as does the idiom using it); a second, literally one-sixtieth of a minute, has been used vaguely to mean "a very short time" since the early 1800s; and trice originally meant "a single pull at something" and has been used figuratively since the 1500s.
See also: flash

quick as a wink

Also, quick as a bunny or a flash . Very speedily, as in He was out of here quick as a wink, or She answered, quick as a bunny. These similes have largely replaced the earlier quick as lightning, although quick as a flash no doubt alludes to it (also see like greased lightning), and quick as thought, now obsolete. The bunny variant dates from the mid-1800s, the others from the late 1800s.
See also: quick, wink

flash back

v.
1. To undergo a change of scene to a previous point in time as a narrative device: In this chapter, the main character flashes back to her youth.
2. To remember or reexperience a previous point in time, usually suddenly: Whenever he hears sirens, he flashes back to his service in Vietnam.
See also: back, flash

flash forward

v.
To undergo a change of scene to a future point in time as a narrative device: The first scene of the movie shows a boy playing with a ball, and then the next scene flashes forward to the character's adulthood.
See also: flash, forward

flash

1. n. something suddenly remembered; something suddenly thought of. I had a flash and quickly wrote it down.
2. n. a very short period of time; an instant. (see also in a flash.) I’ll be there in a flash.
3. tv. to display something briefly. You’d better not flash a wad like that around here. You won’t have it long.
4. in. to display one’s private parts briefly. She flashed briefly, providing the show that people came to see, and left the stage.
5. n. a drink of liquor. Here, have a little flash, and let’s chat a little longer.

flash on someone

in. to get angry at someone. Don’t flash on me like that! I didn’t do it!
See also: flash, on

flash on something

in. to remember something suddenly and vividly. I was trying to flash on it, but I couldn’t bring it to mind.
See also: flash, on

flash the hash

tv. to empty one’s stomach; to vomit. Dave left quickly to go out and flash the hash, I think.
See also: flash, hash

in a flash

mod. right away; immediately. (see also flash.) Get over here in a flash, or else.
See also: flash

flash in the pan

One that promises great success but fails.
See also: flash, pan

flash in the pan

An ultimate disappointment after a promising start. Flintlock muskets and pistols had a priming pan that was filled with a small quality of gunpowder. When the trigger was pulled, the flint struck a piece of steel to create a spark that ignited the powder, which in turn set off the main gunpowder charge to launch the musket ball. Whenever the flint-and-steel spark failed to light the main charge, there was a flash in the pan, but no shot. And that was the disappointment after a potentially useful beginning.
See also: flash, pan
References in classic literature ?
A yellow light flashed across the blue window, and for a second they saw the green trees outside.
And then the gleaming point of Norman of Torn flashed, lightning-like, in his victim's face, and above the right eye of Peter of Colfax was a thin vertical cut from which the red blood had barely started to ooze ere another swift move of that master sword hand placed a fellow to parallel the first.
The little wisps of hair flashed again in the sunlight.
Her eyes flashed as on the day before, and he saw again the imperative expression on her face.
He walked over, the centre of the boat's crew and of the three-score return boys who were all on deck, and flashed his torch on the blanket still lying on the yams.
At the same moment the lightning flashed into the room through the ill-closed shutters; the roar of the thunder burst over the house, and shook it to its foundation.