verb (used without object)

  1. to be in a vigorous state; thrive: a period in which art flourished.
  2. to be in its or in one’s prime; be at the height of fame, excellence, influence, etc.
  3. to be successful; prosper.
  4. to grow luxuriantly, or thrive in growth, as a plant.
  5. to make dramatic, sweeping gestures: Flourish more when you act out the king’s great death scene.
  6. to add embellishments and ornamental lines to writing, letters, etc.
  7. to sound a trumpet call or fanfare.

verb (used with object)

  1. to brandish dramatically; gesticulate with: a conductor flourishing his baton for the crescendo.
  2. to decorate or embellish (writing, a page of script, etc.) with sweeping or fanciful curves or lines.


  1. an act or instance of brandishing.
  2. an ostentatious display.
  3. a decoration or embellishment, especially in writing: He added a few flourishes to his signature.
  4. Rhetoric. a parade of fine language; an expression used merely for effect.
  5. a trumpet call or fanfare.
  6. a condition or period of thriving: in full flourish.


  1. (intr) to thrive; prosper
  2. (intr) to be at the peak of condition
  3. (intr) to be healthyplants flourish in the light
  4. to wave or cause to wave in the air with sweeping strokes
  5. to display or make a display
  6. to play (a fanfare, etc) on a musical instrument
  7. (intr) to embellish writing, characters, etc, with ornamental strokes
  8. to add decorations or embellishments to (speech or writing)
  9. (intr) an obsolete word for blossom


  1. the act of waving or brandishing
  2. a showy gesturehe entered with a flourish
  3. an ornamental embellishment in writing
  4. a display of ornamental language or speech
  5. a grandiose passage of music
  6. an ostentatious display or parade
  7. obsolete
    1. the state of flourishing
    2. the state of flowering

c.1300, “to blossom, grow,” from Old French floriss-, stem of florir “blossom, flower, bloom, flourish,” from Latin florere “to bloom, blossom, flower,” figuratively “to flourish, be prosperous,” from flos “a flower” (see flora).

Metaphoric sense of “thrive” is mid-14c. Meaning “to brandish (a weapon)” first attested late 14c. Related: Flourished; flourishing.


c.1500, “a blossom,” from flourish (v.). Meaning “ostentatious waving of a weapon” is from 1550s; that of “literary or rhetorical embellishment” is from c.1600.

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