General English


  • noun the usually yellow area of burning gases seen when something is burning



  • A hot and luminous gaseous body undergoing combustion.
  • A communication or message, such as an email or a newsgroup posting, which is insulting or otherwise abusive in nature. Also, to send such a message.


  • noun burning gas which forms the yellow part of a fire


  • verb to attack verbally and/or humiliate by sending an Internet or e-mail message. An item of net-head slang dating from the later 1980s.

Origin & History of “flame”

Flame traces its history back to an Indo-European *bhleg-, *phleg-, which also produced Greek phlóx ‘flame’ (source of English phlox, and related to phlegm and phlegmatic), Latin flāgrāre ‘burn, blaze’ (source of English flagrant), Latin fulmen (source of English fulminate), and Latin fulgēre ‘shine’ (source of English refulgent (16th c.)). The relevant descendant in this case was Latin flamma ‘flame’, acquired by English via Old French flame. It had a diminutive form flammula, which produced Old French flambe ‘small flame’, ultimate source of English flambé (19th c.) and flamboyant (19th c.) (originally an architectural term applied to a 15th- and 16th-century French Gothic style characterized by wavy flamelike forms).