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Flash

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Flash

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:49 pm

• flash •


Pronunciation: flæsh • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, Verb, Adjective

Meaning: 1. A sudden, brief, intense burst of light. 2. A device capable of producing a short blaze of light such as can be found on a flash camera. 3. A sudden, brief, intense occurrence of any kind, as a flash of insight or a news flash, or a very brief period of time, a split second, as in: "I'll be there in a flash."

Notes: Flash comes with an adjective, flashy, whose meaning has shifted to "ostentatious", as a flashy outfit. That adjective produces a noun, flashiness, which has come to be another sense of flash itself, in "The show was all flash and no content."

In Play: Perhaps the most obvious flash is made by lightning: "In the flash of lightning Bob Wire saw that the man mugging him was actually holding a banana, not a gun." The most common idiom based on flash is flash in the pan, a person or thing which at first seems promising, but soon fizzles out: "Kaye Syrah was just a flash in the pan: she started at the top and had nowhere to go from there."

Word History: No one seems to know where this word came from—that leaves us free to speculate! The major dictionaries, such as the Oxford English Dictionary, claim it is of onomatopoetic origin, like plash and dash. The original meaning of the word was "splash", as in, "The sea . . . also flashed up unto his legs & knees" (Raphael Holinshed, The Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande, 1577). So sound imitation is a reasonable speculation. However, here is an instance where the blending of flame or flare with splash or dash is also reasonable. We are free to choose either speculation. (Let's hope Margaret Knapp's suggestion of today's excellent Good Word is no flash in the pan and that she returns with more of the same quality.)
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Re: Flash

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:04 pm

The word in popular computer parlence becomes a cross between a noun and an adjective in the term "flash drive," also known as thumb drives, jump drives, data sticks, and a few other things. The dictionary refers to these as plastic, but they contain an extendable metal tongue to insert into a computer USB port. They are used for backup storage and the ability to carry around data and programs you may want to transfer. I suppose the term flash drive came from their ability to download data fairly quickly. My key case has a pocket in which I carry a flash drive that backs up my lap top.
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Re: Flash

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:50 am

I think we have discussed this before. There is no drive in a flash drive. Except for electrons there are no moving parts in the memory. I understand it is officially called a flash memory in a flash drive, but it is not faster than a speeding bullet nor can it leap tall buildings. Nevertheless, it is a most valuable memory. When we develop flash memories as big and fast as a C drive we will have really made a great achievement. If the Lord wills it, we will achieve smaller and faster content addressable memories than can be presently imagined.

I have been from paper tape with drum memories (you don't want to know what they are) to the present memories and participated in the development of one of the early non-moving mass memories called bubble memories.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: Flash

Postby Slava » Sat Jul 20, 2013 7:24 am

So, the good old OED says our word is onomatopoetic in origin. I must admit, I don't see it, or more to the point, hear it. If flash originally meant the same as splash, just where did that f come from? I can't hear an f in water sounds.

If flash is going to be onomatopoetic in regards to light, would someone please tell me what light sounds like? Think of lightning, especially heat lightning. Lots of flash, but no sound. The thunder arrives later, and isn't really caused by the light.

By the by, is there any difference between onomatopoetic and onomatopoeic?

In case anyone's wondering about "flash in the pan", here's a little write-up about it.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
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Re: Flash

Postby MTC » Sat Jul 20, 2013 7:27 am

Dr. G managed to omit 41 of 44 senses of "flash," a word which coruscates with multifaceted meanings like a disco light ball. See Dictionary.com for the rest.
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Re: Flash

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 11:45 am

I have a friend who does gold panning. Takes in a good
haul, but lots of patience needed. thanks, slava.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: Flash

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:10 pm

Sorry, Philip, but the flash drive in my pocket holds 16 gigabites while my laptop C:\ drive has only 2. And it can "drive" computers, especially if it carries an emergency start-up program.

Thanks MTC for the 44. I bet most of us would have differing ratings for the most frequent usage. My iPhone has both a camera flash and a flashlight program.
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Re: Flash

Postby MTC » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:35 pm

Slava wrote:

"...(W)ould someone please tell me what light sounds like?"

Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

...

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Re: Flash

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:46 pm

Perry: My C drive has 232 gigabytes and the biggest flash memory I have is 7 gigabytes. I have several flash memories. Are you sure about your C drive? I agree that a flash memory can "drive" a PC with a start up program. In the field of memories as well as all other computing fields we ain't seen nuthin' yet. We are on the edge of a physical density break through that is at the molecular level. Then gigabytes will be too small to define memory, and the smaller the unit the faster. Computers can't go faster than the speed of light. At least I don't think they can.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: Flash

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:53 pm

MTC: At first glance this poem seems to be un-Donne-ish. On further study one asks if there is anything un-Donne-ish. Thanks for the reminder. Donne is one of our greatest poets.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: Flash

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Jul 20, 2013 8:18 pm

It may have been 20 years ago I told my son that a 40K hard drive would be all he needed. He's never let me forget it.
(Following to be read in LOUD voice and printed in HUGE type:)
232 gigabytes!...what n the ever lovin blue eyed world would anyone need that much space for? Oh.....I forgot...you are an engineer.
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Re: Flash

Postby wurdpurrson » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:06 pm

I suspect, MTC, that one of the 41 other meanings must include the recent 'flash mob' craze (I confess, I did not check your reference). However, what started as an impromptu 'happening' has evolved into sophisticated, orchestrated bits of performance art. And quickly (flash!), too, thanks to all the social media in play today.

Which makes me wonder: just how many other words are evolving at an accelerated pace because of near-instant electronic capabilities? Or, on the other hand (and perhaps more relevant), more rapidly sliding into obsolescence . . .

Change is constant.
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Re: Flash

Postby MTC » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:43 pm

Change is constant as you say, wurdpurrson. And we are but a flash in the pun.
Here's a link to "flash mobbing" on Dictionary.com:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/flash+mobbing

I would love to flash mob here in China--where it counts. It's a delicious thought. Big Brother would likely go apoplexic. I plan to broach the subject at a local coffee house/gallery I frequent for the anarchic atmosphere. If I "disappear" from the Goodword site you will know the social experiment failed. A flash "burn," perhaps. Or this may be all talk. I'll keep you posted.
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Re: Flash

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:07 pm

There are several excellent flash mobs on YouTube, headed by the Hallelujah Chorus done in a food court. There's also a neat one somewhere in Spain. Good browsing!
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