verb (used with object)
- to try to please by complimentary remarks or attention.
- to praise or compliment insincerely, effusively, or excessively: She flatters him by constantly praising his books.
- to represent favorably; gratify by falsification: The portrait flatters her.
- to show to advantage: a hairstyle that flatters the face.
- to play upon the vanity or susceptibilities of; cajole, wheedle, or beguile: They flattered him into contributing heavily to the foundation.
- to please or gratify by compliments or attentions: I was flattered by their invitation.
- to feel satisfaction with (oneself), especially with reference to an accomplishment, act, or occasion: He flattered himself that the dinner had gone well.
- to beguile with hope; encourage prematurely, falsely, etc.
verb (used without object)
- to use flattery.
- a person or thing that makes something flat.
- a flat-faced blacksmith’s tool, laid on a forging and struck with a hammer to smooth the surface of the forging.
- a drawplate with a flat orifice for drawing flat metal strips, as for watch springs.
adjective, flat·ter, flat·test.
- horizontally level: a flat roof.
- level, even, or without unevenness of surface, as land or tabletops.
- having a surface that is without marked projections or depressions: a broad, flat face.
- lying horizontally and at full length, as a person; prostrate: He was flat on the canvas after the knockdown.
- lying wholly on or against something: The banner was flat against the wall.
- thrown down, laid low, or level with the ground, as fallen trees or buildings.
- having a generally level shape or appearance; not deep or thick: a flat plate.
- (of the heel of a shoe) low and broad.
- spread out, as an unrolled map or the open hand.
- deflated; collapsed: a flat tire.
- absolute, downright, or positive; without qualification: a flat denial.
- without modification or variation: a flat rate.
- Informal. lacking money; broke.
- without vitality or animation; lifeless; dull: flat writing.
- having lost its flavor, sharpness, or life, as wine or food; stale.
- (of a beverage) having lost its effervescence.
- without flavor; not spiced: flat cooking.
- prosaic, banal, or insipid: a flat style.
- pointless, as a remark or joke.
- commercially inactive: a flat day in the stock market.
- (of a painting) not having the illusion of volume or depth.
- (of a photograph or painting) lacking contrast or gradations of tone or color.
- (of paint) without gloss; not shiny; mat.
- not clear, sharp, or ringing, as sound or a voice.
- lacking resonance and variation in pitch; monotonous: a flat delivery of the speech.
- (of a tone) lowered a half step in pitch: B flat.
- below an intended pitch, as a note; too low (opposed to sharp).
- Grammar. derived without change in form, as English to brush from the noun brush and adverbs that do not add -ly to the adjective form as fast, cheap, and slow.
- Phonetics. lenis; voiced.
- Nautical. (of a sail)
- cut with little or no fullness.
- trimmed as nearly fore-and-aft as possible, for sailing to windward.
- flat a, the a-sound (a) of glad, bat, or act.
- something flat.
- a shoe, especially a woman’s shoe, with a flat heel or no heel.
- a flat surface, side, or part of anything: He struck me with the flat of his hand.
- flat or level ground; a flat area: salt flats.
- a marsh, shoal, or shallow.
- (in musical notation) the character ♭, which when attached to a note or to a staff degree lowers its significance one chromatic half step.
- a tone one chromatic half step below another: The flat of B is B flat.
- (on keyboard instruments, with reference to any given note) the key next below or to the left.
- Theater. a piece of scenery consisting of a wooden frame, usually rectangular, covered with lightweight board or fabric.
- a broad, thin book, chiefly for children: a juvenile flat.
- Informal. a deflated automobile tire.
- (in postal use) a large flat package, as in a manila envelope, for mailing.
- Architecture. a flat roof or deck.
- Also called platform.a partial deck between two full decks.
- a low, flat barge or lighter.
- a broad, flat piece of iron or steel for overlapping and joining two plates at their edges.
- a straight timber in a frame or other assembly of generally curved timbers.
- an iron or steel bar of rectangular cross section.
- Textiles. one of a series of laths covered with card clothing, used in conjunction with the cylinder in carding.
- Photography. one or more negatives or positives in position to be reproduced.
- Printing. a device for holding a negative or positive flat for reproduction by photoengraving.
- Horticulture. a shallow, lidless box or tray used for rooting seeds and cuttings and for growing young plants.
- a similar box used for shipping and selling fruits and vegetables.
- Football. the area of the field immediately inside of or outside of an offensive end, close behind or at the line of scrimmage.
- flats, Informal. flat races between horses.Compare flat race.
verb (used with object), flat·ted, flat·ting.
- to make flat.
- Music. to lower (a pitch), especially one half step.
verb (used without object), flat·ted, flat·ting.
- to become flat.
- in a flat position; horizontally; levelly.
- in a flat manner; positively; absolutely.
- completely; utterly: flat broke.
- exactly; precisely: She ran around the track in two minutes flat.
- Music. below the true pitch: to sing flat.
- Finance. without interest.
- flat in, Nautical. to pull the clew of (a fore-and-aft sail) as nearly amidships as possible.Also flatten in.
- fall flat, to fail to produce the desired effect; fail completely: His attempts at humor fell flat.
- flat aft, Nautical. trimmed so that fore-and-aft sails present as flat a surface as possible, as in sailing close to the wind.
- flat on one’s back. back1(def 47).
- flat out, Informal.
- without hesitation; directly or openly: He told us flat out he’d been a double agent.
- at full speed or with maximum effort.
- to praise insincerely, esp in order to win favour or reward
- to show to advantagethat dress flatters her
- (tr) to make to appear more attractive, etc, than in reality
- to play upon or gratify the vanity of (a person)it flatters her to be remembered
- (tr) to beguile with hope; encourage, esp falselythis success flattered him into believing himself a champion
- (tr) to congratulate or deceive (oneself)I flatter myself that I am the best
- a blacksmith’s tool, resembling a flat-faced hammer, that is placed on forged work and struck to smooth the surface of the forging
- a die with a narrow rectangular orifice for drawing flat sections
adjective flatter or flattest
- horizontal; levelflat ground; a flat roof
- even or smooth, without projections or depressionsa flat surface
- lying stretched out at full length; prostratehe lay flat on the ground
- having little depth or thickness; shallowa flat dish
- (postpositive often foll by against) having a surface or side in complete contact with another surfaceflat against the wall
- spread out, unrolled, or levelled
- (of a tyre) deflated, either partially or completely
- (of shoes) having an unraised or only slightly raised heel
- mainly British
- (of races, racetracks, or racecourses) not having obstacles to be jumped
- of, relating to, or connected with flat racing as opposed to steeplechasing and hurdlingflat jockeys earn more
- without qualification; totala flat denial
- without possibility of change; fixeda flat rate
- (prenominal or immediately postpositive) neither more nor less; exacthe did the journey in thirty minutes flat; a flat thirty minutes
- unexciting or lacking point or interesta flat joke
- without variation or resonance; monotonousa flat voice
- (of food) stale or tasteless
- (of beer, sparkling wines, etc) having lost effervescence, as by exposure to air
- (of trade, business, a market, etc) commercially inactive; sluggish
- (of a battery) fully discharged; dead
- (of a print, photograph, or painting) lacking contrast or shading between tones
- (of paint) without gloss or lustre; matt
- (of a painting) lacking perspective
- (of lighting) diffuse
- (immediately postpositive)denoting a note of a given letter name (or the sound it represents) that has been lowered in pitch by one chromatic semitoneB flat
- (of an instrument, voice, etc) out of tune by being too low in pitchCompare sharp (def. 12)
- phonetics another word for lenis
- flat a phonetics the vowel sound of a as in the usual US or S Brit pronunciation of hand, cat, usually represented by the symbol (æ)
- in or into a prostrate, level, or flat state or positionhe held his hand out flat
- completely or utterly; absolutelyhe went flat against the rules
- exactly; preciselyin three minutes flat
- lower than a standard pitch
- too low in pitchshe sings flat Compare sharp (def. 18)
- fall flat to fail to achieve a desired effect, etc
- flat out informal
- with the maximum speed or effort
- totally exhausted
- a flat object, surface, or part
- (often plural) a low-lying tract of land, esp a marsh or swamp
- (often plural) a mud bank exposed at low tide
- an accidental that lowers the pitch of the following note by one chromatic semitoneUsual symbol: ♭
- a note affected by this accidentalCompare sharp (def. 19)
- theatre a rectangular wooden frame covered with painted canvas, etc, used to form part of a stage setting
- a punctured car tyre
- the flat mainly British ((often cap.))
- flat racing, esp as opposed to steeplechasing and hurdling
- the season of flat racing
- nautical a flatboat or lighter
- US and Canadian a shallow box or container, used for holding plants, growing seedlings, etc
verb flats, flatting or flatted
- to make or become flat
- music the usual US word for flatten (def. 3)
- a set of rooms comprising a residence entirely on one floor of a buildingUsual US and Canadian name: apartment
- British and NZ a portion of a house used as separate living quarters
- NZ a house shared with people who are not members of one’s own family
verb flats, flatting or flatted (intr)
- Australian and NZ to live in a flat (with someone)
early 13c., from Old French flater “to flatter” (13c.), originally “stroke with the hand, caress,” from Frankish *flat “palm, flat of the hand” (see flat (adj.)). “[O]ne of many imitative verbs beginning with fl- and denoting unsteady or light, repeated movement” [Liberman]. Related: Flattered; flattering.
early 14c., from Old Norse flatr, from Proto-Germanic *flataz (cf. Old Saxon flat “flat, shallow,: Old High German flaz “flat, level,” Old English flet, Old High German flezzi “floor”), perhaps from PIE *plat- “to spread” (cf. Greek platys “broad, flat;” see plaice (n.)).
Sense of “prosaic, dull” is from 1570s; used of drink from c.1600; of musical notes from 1590s, because the tone is “lowered.” Flat-out (adv.) “openly, directly” is from 1932; earlier it was a noun meaning “total failure” (1870, U.S. colloquial).
1801, from Scottish flat “floor or story of a house,” from Old English flet “a dwelling, floor, ground,” from the same source as flat (adj.).
In addition to the idioms beginning with flat
- flat as a pancake
- flat broke
- flat on one’s back
- flat out
- caught flat-footed
- fall flat
- in no time (nothing flat)
- leave flat