What is the difference between flash and lightning?

flash | lightning |

As verbs the difference between flash and lightning

is that flash is to briefly illuminate a scene while lightning is (impersonal|childish|or|nonstandard) to produce lightning.

As nouns the difference between flash and lightning

is that flash is a sudden, short, temporary burst of light while lightning is a flash of light produced by short-duration, high-voltage discharge of electricity within a cloud, between clouds, or between a cloud and the earth.

As adjectives the difference between flash and lightning

is that flash is expensive-looking and demanding attention; stylish; showy while lightning is extremely fast or sudden.

Other Comparisons: What's the difference?



(wikipedia flash)

Etymology 1

In some senses, from (etyl) flasshen, a variant of flasken, , related to (m).


  • To briefly illuminate a scene.
  • :
  • To blink; to shine or illuminate intermittently.
  • :
  • *
  • *:Breezes blowing from beds of iris quickened her breath with their perfume; she saw the tufted lilacs sway in the wind, and the streamers of mauve-tinted wistaria swinging, all a-glisten with golden bees; she saw a crimson cardinal winging through the foliage, and amorous tanagers flashing like scarlet flames athwart the pines.
  • To be visible briefly.
  • :
  • *, chapter=5
  • , title= The Mirror and the Lamp , passage=Here, in the transept and choir, where the service was being held, one was conscious every moment of an increasing brightness; colours glowing vividly beneath the circular chandeliers, and the rows of small lights on the choristers' desks flashed and sparkled in front of the boys' faces, deep linen collars, and red neckbands.}}
  • To make visible briefly.
  • :
  • :
  • (lb) To break forth like a sudden flood of light; to show a momentary brilliance.
  • *(Thomas Talfourd) (1795–1854)
  • *:names which have flashed and thundered as the watch words of unnumbered struggles
  • *(Matthew Arnold) (1822-1888)
  • *:The object is made to flash upon the eye of the mind.
  • * (1809-1892)
  • *:A thought flashed through me, which I clothed in act.
  • To flaunt; to display in a showy manner.
  • :
  • To communicate quickly.
  • :
  • :
  • (lb) To write to the memory of an updatable component such as a BIOS chip or games cartridge.
  • :
  • (lb) To release the pressure from a pressurized vessel.
  • (lb) To perform a .
  • To move, or cause to move, suddenly
  • *{{quote-news, year=2011, date=January 11, author=Jonathan Stevenson, work=BBC
  • , title= West Ham 2-1 Birmingham , passage=But they survived some real pressure as David Murphy flashed a header inches wide of Rob Green's right-hand post
  • (lb) To cover with a thin layer, as objects of glass with glass of a different colour.
  • To trick up in a showy manner.
  • *(Antony Brewer) (fl.1655)
  • *:Limning and flashing it with various dyes.
  • To strike and throw up large bodies of water from the surface; to splash.
  • *(Edmund Spenser) (c.1552–1599)
  • *:He rudely flashed the waves about.
  • (lb) To telephone a person, only allowing the phone to ring once, in order to request a call back.
  • :
  • To evaporate suddenly. See (Flash evaporation).
  • To climb (a route) successfully on the first attempt.
  • Synonyms
    * (to briefly illuminate) glint * (telephoning) beep
    Derived terms
    * flashback * flasher * flashforward * flashing * flashlight * flash up
    See also
    * gleam


  • A sudden, short, temporary burst of light.
  • (figurative) A sudden and brilliant burst, as of wit or genius.
  • * Shakespeare
  • the flash and outbreak of a fiery mind
  • * Wirt
  • No striking sentiment, no flash of fancy.
  • (linguistics) A language, created by a minority to maintain cultural identity, that cannot be understood by the ruling class; for example, Ebonics.
  • A very short amount of time.
  • * Francis Bacon
  • The Persians and Macedonians had it for a flash .
  • * 1876, , The Adventures of Tom Sawyer ,
  • Quick—something must be done! done in a flash , too! But the very imminence of the emergency paralyzed his invention.
  • * 2011 , Phil McNulty, Euro 2012: Montenegro 2-2 England [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/15195384.stm]
  • Fabio Capello insisted Rooney was in the right frame of mind to play in stormy Podgorica despite his father's arrest on Thursday in a probe into alleged betting irregularities, but his flash of temper - when he kicked out at Miodrag Dzudovic - suggested otherwise.
  • Material]] left around the edge of a [[mould, moulded part at the parting line of the mould.
  • (Cockney) The strips of bright cloth or buttons worn around the collars of market traders.
  • (US, colloquial) A flashlight or electric torch.
  • * 1939 , (Raymond Chandler), The Big Sleep , Penguin 2011, p. 34:
  • I reached a flash out of my car pocket and went down-grade and looked at the car.
  • A light used for photography - a shortened form of camera flash.
  • (juggling) A pattern where each prop is thrown and caught only once.
  • (archaic) A preparation of capsicum, burnt sugar, etc., for colouring liquor to make it look stronger.
  • Synonyms
    * gleam, glint * (material left around the edge of a mould) moulding flash, molding flash
    * (very short amount of time) aeon
    * light
    Derived terms
    * antiflash * camera flash * flashy * flashbulb * flash flood * flash in the pan * flash memory * flash photography * flash point * flashproof * in a flash * quick as a flash
    See also
    * sparkle, shimmer, glimmer, twinkle


    (en adjective)
  • Expensive-looking and demanding attention; stylish; showy.
  • * 1892 , Banjo Paterson,
  • The barber man was small and flash , as barbers mostly are,
    He wore a strike-your-fancy sash, he smoked a huge cigar;
  • (UK, of a person) Having plenty of ready money.
  • (UK, of a person) Liable to show off expensive possessions or money.
  • (US, slang) Occurring very rapidly, almost instantaneously.
  • References

    * * For the sense ‘a short period of time’, the 1858 Notes and Queries of Martim de Albuquerque was consulted. From page 437 of the sixth volume of the second series, published in London by Bell & Dally, 186 Fleet Street, in 1858 : *: Ought we not to collect for posterity the various ways in which very short times are denoted. Besides the one at the head, there are, — in no time, in next to no time, in less than no time, in a trice, in a jiffy, in a brace of shakes, before you can say Jack Robinson, in a crack, in the squeezing of a lemon, in the doubling of your fist, in the twinkling of an eye, in a moment, in an instant, in a flash.

    Etymology 2

    From (etyl) flasche, flaske; compare (etyl) flache, (etyl) flaque, which is of (etyl) origin, akin to Middle Dutch .


  • A pool.
  • (Halliwell)
  • (engineering) A reservoir and sluiceway beside a navigable stream, just above a shoal, so that the stream may pour in water as boats pass, and thus bear them over the shoal.
  • Derived terms
    * flash wheel


    * English ergative verbs ----



  • A flash of light produced by short-duration, high-voltage discharge of electricity within a cloud, between clouds, or between a cloud and the earth.
  • Although we did not see the lightning , we did hear the thunder.
  • * 1901 , E. L. Morris, The Child's Eden , page 16:
  • It was the thought of hot July and August days, when the clouds piled up like woolly mountains, and lightnings streaked the sky.
  • A discharge of this kind.
  • The lightning was hot enough to melt the sand.
    That tree was hit by lightning .
  • * 1881 , Daniel Pierce Thompson, The Green Mountain Boys , page 281:
  • The rain at length ceased; and the lightnings , as they played along the black parapet of clouds, that lay piled in the east, shone with less dazzling fierceness,
  • (figuratively) Anything that moves very fast.
  • * 1918 , (Edgar Rice Burroughs), , chapter V:
  • Nobs, though, was lightning by comparison with the slow thinking beast and dodged his opponent's thrust with ease. Then he raced to the rear of the tremendous thing and seized it by the tail.
  • The act of making bright, or the state of being made bright; enlightenment; brightening, as of the mental powers.
  • (Webster 1913)


    * 2008 , Kathy Clark, Stand By Your Man , page 280: *: Manny drove a few miles per hour under the speed limit, entranced by the awesome display of lightning streaking out of the clouds toward earth.

    Derived terms

    * ball lightning * Jewish lightning * greased lightning * lightning bug * lightning bolt * lightning conductor * lightning detector * lightning in a bottle * lightning rod * sheet lightning * upward lightning

    Coordinate terms

    * thunderbolt


  • Extremely fast or sudden.
  • Moving at the speed of lightning.
  • Verb

    (en verb)
  • (impersonal, childish, or, nonstandard) To produce lightning.
  • * 1916 , Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Understood Betsy
  • Or if it thundered and lightninged , Aunt Frances always dropped everything she might be doing and held Elizabeth Ann tightly in her arms until it was all over.
  • * 1968 , Dan Greenburg, Chewsday: a sex novel
  • The next day, though it is not only raining but thundering and lightninging as well, antiquing is seen by three-fourths of those present as a lesser evil than free play.
  • * 1987 , Tricia Springstubb, Eunice Gottlieb and the unwhitewashed truth about life
  • "Hey!" yelled Reggie, pulling her back. "Get in here! It's lightninging . I don't want a charcoal-broiled friend!"
  • * 1988 , Carlo Collodi, Roberto Innocenti, The adventures of Pinocchio
  • I don't know, Father, but believe me, it has been a horrible night — one that I'll never forget. It thundered and lightninged , and I was very hungry.

    Usage notes

    * bolt, flash, strike are some of the words used to count lightning. * The standard, but rare, verb for "lightning occurs" is lighten, used only in the impersonal form "it lightens", or as "it’s lightening".