1. The zone of burning gases and fine suspended matter associated with rapid combustion; a hot, glowing mass of burning gas or vapor.
2. The condition of active, blazing combustion: burst into flame.
3. Something resembling a flame in motion, brilliance, intensity, or shape.
4. A violent or intense passion.
5. Informal A person that one has an intense passion for.
6. Informal An insulting criticism or remark meant to incite anger, as on a computer network.
v. flamed, flam·ing, flames
1. To burn brightly; blaze.
2. To color or flash suddenly: cheeks that flamed with embarrassment.
3. Informal To make insulting criticisms or remarks, as on a computer network, to incite anger.
1. To burn, ignite, or scorch (something) with a flame.
2. Informal To insult or criticize provokingly, as on a computer network.
3. Obsolete To excite; inflame.
To fail: "Only a handful of companies have flamed out in the two decades since the birth of the [biotech] industry" (Rhonda L. Rundle).
[Middle English, from Anglo-Norman flaumbe, variant of Old French flambe, from flamble, from Latin flammula, diminutive of flamma; see bhel-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.