1. a large amount of water that covers an area that was dry before
2. a large number of people or things that move somewhere or arrive somewhere at the same time
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.
Origin and usage
The noun flood comes from an Old English word ‘flód’ and is related to similar words in other Germanic languages.
In recent days several areas of central and northern England have suffered damaging floods, as has the city of Venice. In England the floods were caused mainly by rivers bursting following unusually heavy rain, while in the Italian city the main cause was abnormally high tides. The noun and verb flood have a range of meanings in addition to the literal ones, all related to ideas about the sudden arrival of large and uncontrollable quantities of something. So a flood of people or things is a large number of them moving, happening or arriving somewhere at the same time, while a flood of light is very strong light that fills a place. A flood of memories or feelings is a large number of them that have a strong effect on you. If they return suddenly you can say that they flood back. Someone who is in floods of tears is crying uncontrollably, while something that is in full flood is at its maximum intensity. In the world of business, to flood the market is to make such a large number of goods or services available for sale that they cannot all be sold and the price falls.
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”
(William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar)
“What switched me to films was the flood of American pictures into Paris after the Liberation.”
deluge, tidal wave, tsunami
Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.
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