Meaning of FLAT in English

I. flat 1 S2 W2 /flæt/ BrE AmE adjective ( comparative flatter , superlative flattest )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ flat , ↑ flatness ; adverb : ↑ flat , ↑ flatly ; verb : ↑ flatten ; adjective : ↑ flat ]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old Norse ; Origin: flatr ]

1 . SURFACE smooth and level, without raised or hollow areas, and not sloping or curving:

houses with flat roofs

a perfectly flat sandy beach

The countryside near there is flat as a pancake (=very flat) .

Work on a clean, flat surface.

2 . MONEY a flat rate, amount of money etc is fixed and does not change or have anything added to it:

Clients are charged a flat rate of £250 annually.

We charge a flat fee for car hire.

3 . TYRE/BALL a flat tyre or ball has no air or not enough air in it

4 . NOT DEEP not very deep, thick, or high, especially in comparison to its width or length:

The cake came out of the oven flat, not fluffy.

5 . DRINK a drink that is flat does not taste fresh because it has no more bubbles of gas in it OPP fizzy

6 . NOT INTERESTING [not before noun] a performance, book etc that is flat lacks interest, excitement, or energy:

Arsenal looked flat for large parts of the game.

7 . BATTERY British English a flat ↑ battery has lost its electrical power SYN dead American English :

Have you checked that the batteries haven’t gone flat (=become flat) ?

8 . BUSINESS/TRADE if prices, economic conditions, trade etc are flat, they have not increased or improved over a period of time:

Analysts are expecting flat sales in the coming months.

9 . E flat/B flat/A flat etc a musical note that is one ↑ semitone lower than the note E, B, A etc ⇨ sharp , natural

10 . MUSICAL SOUND if a musical note is flat, it is played or sung slightly lower than it should be OPP sharp

11 . VOICE not showing much emotion, or not changing much in sound as you speak:

‘He’s dead,’ she said in a flat voice.

12 . a flat refusal/denial etc a refusal etc that is definite and which someone will not change:

Our requests were met with a flat refusal.

13 . be flat on your back

a) to be lying down so that all of your back is touching the floor

b) to be very ill so that you have to stay in bed for a period of time:

I’ve been flat on my back with the flu all week.

14 . SHOES flat shoes have very low heels

15 . LIGHT having little variety of light and dark:

Flat lighting is typical of Avedon’s portraits.

16 . and that’s flat! British English spoken old-fashioned used to say that you will definitely not change what you have just said SYN and that’s that :

I won’t go, and that’s flat!

—flatness noun [uncountable]

⇨ in/into a flat spin at ↑ spin 2 (6), ⇨ ↑ flat feet

• • •


▪ flat on one level, without any holes or raised areas, and not sloping or curving:

a flat roof


a flat screen


Before you lay the tiles, make sure that the ground is completely flat.

▪ level not sloping in any direction, so that every part is at the same height:

Is the top of this picture level?


After four hours coming down the mountain, I was glad to be back on level ground.

▪ smooth without any holes or raised areas – used especially when saying how something feels when you touch it:

her lovely smooth skin


I ran my hand across the animal’s smooth fur.

▪ even without any holes or raised areas:

Apply the paint to an even surface.


Be careful – the path is not very even here.

▪ horizontal going straight across and not sloping:

a horizontal line


Raise both arms to a horizontal position.

II. flat 2 S2 W3 BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ flat , ↑ flatness ; adverb : ↑ flat , ↑ flatly ; verb : ↑ flatten ; adjective : ↑ flat ]

[ Sense 1: Date: 1800-1900 ; Language: Scottish English ; Origin: flet 'inside of a house' (14-19 centuries) (influenced by ⇨ ↑ flat 1 ) ]

[ Sense 2-7: Date: 1200-1300 ; Origin: ⇨ ↑ flat 1 ]

1 . PLACE TO LIVE especially British English a place for people to live that consists of a set of rooms that are part of a larger building SYN apartment :

They have a flat in Crouch End.

a two-bedroom flat

The building was knocked down to make way for a block of flats (=a large building with many flats in it) .

⇨ ↑ granny flat

2 . TYRE especially American English a tyre that does not have enough air inside SYN flat tyre :

Damn, the car has a flat.

He stopped to change a flat.


a) a musical note that is one ↑ semitone lower than a particular note

b) the sign (Ƅ) in written music that shows that a note is one ↑ semitone lower than a particular note ⇨ sharp , natural

4 . LAND flats [plural] an area of land that is at a low level, especially near water:

mud flats

5 . SHOES flats [plural] American English a pair of women’s shoes with very low heels

6 . the flat of sb’s hand/a knife/a sword etc the flat part or flat side of something

7 . on the flat British English on ground that is level and does not slope

• • •



▪ small

The flat was too small for the three of them.

▪ big/spacious

It was a big flat with eight or nine rooms.

▪ cramped/poky (=too small and not comfortable)

She spends most days shut up in a poky flat looking after her disabled Mum.

▪ a one-bedroom/two-bedroom etc flat

She lived in a one-bedroom flat in Clapham.

▪ a one-room/two-room etc flat

Their home is a humble two-room flat.

▪ a ground-floor/first-floor/second-floor etc flat

We’re moving into a first-floor flat.

▪ a basement flat (=a flat that is below ground level)

They lived in a basement flat in South London.

▪ a studio flat (=with one main room)

I might just be able to afford a tiny studio flat.

▪ high-rise flats (=flats in a very tall building)

Many high-rise flats were built in the 1970s.

▪ a rented flat

He returned to his rented flat in Cheltenham.

▪ a luxury flat

Laura shares a luxury flat with her sister Chloe.

▪ a self-contained flat (=a flat with its own kitchen and bathroom)

We rented a self-contained flat in the city centre.

▪ a furnished/unfurnished flat (=a rented flat that does or does not have furniture)

She found a job and a furnished flat.

▪ a holiday flat

The building has been converted into three holiday flats.

■ phrases

▪ a block of flats (=a large building divided into separate flats)

At the time, I lived in a block of flats in St John’s Wood.

■ verbs

▪ live in a flat

Terry lived in a flat on the second floor.

▪ buy a flat

I had planned to buy a flat with Geraldine.

▪ rent a flat

Renting a flat can be very expensive in this part of town.

▪ move into a flat

They move into their new flat next week.

▪ own a flat

The couple own their own flat in Peebles.

III. flat 3 BrE AmE adverb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ flat , ↑ flatness ; adverb : ↑ flat , ↑ flatly ; verb : ↑ flatten ; adjective : ↑ flat ]

1 . FLAT POSITION in a position in which the surface of something is against another surface without curving or sloping:

The bed can be folded flat for storage.

He lay flat on the floor.

That night I lay flat on my back and stared up at the ceiling.

2 . three minutes/ten seconds etc flat informal in exactly three minutes, ten seconds etc – used to emphasize that something happens or is done very quickly:

I was dressed in five minutes flat.

3 . fall flat informal if a joke, story etc falls flat, it does not achieve the effect that is intended:

Unfortunately, what could have been a powerful drama fell flat.

4 . MUSIC if you sing or play music flat, you sing or play slightly lower than the correct note so that the sound is unpleasant OPP sharp

5 . fall flat on your/something's face

a) to fall so that you are lying on your chest on the ground:

Babe slipped and fell flat on her face.

b) informal to not have the result you want or expect, especially when this is embarrassing:

The theory falls flat on its face when put into practice.

6 . flat out informal

a) as fast as possible:

Everyone’s working flat out to finish on time.

b) American English in a direct and complete way SYN straight out

ask/tell somebody flat out

She asked him flat out if he was seeing another woman.

7 . tell somebody flat British English spoken to tell someone something directly and definitely SYN straight out :

I told him flat that I didn’t want to see him again.

⇨ flat broke at ↑ broke 2 (1)

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.