General English


  • adjective used to describe market prices which do not fall or rise, because of low demand
  • adjective not changing in response to different conditions


  • adjective having no air inside
  • adjective electrically discharged or with no electrical charge left in it

Cars & Driving

  • adjective completely discharged, so that it cannot turn the engine and the lights are at best very dim
  • adjective completely deflated, especially as the result of a puncture or a leaky valve
  • adjective having horizontally opposed cylinders
  • noun a level area on an otherwise rounded surface
  • noun a flat tyre
  • verb to give a final light rubbing down to (paintwork or filler) with fine grade sandpaper or similar, to prepare the surface for a top coat


  • adverb in a blunt way


  • Descriptive of a structural element having no slope, such as a flat roof.
  • Descriptive of low gloss paint, used either as an undercoat or as a final coat.
  • A thin iron or steel bar with a rectangular cross section.


  • adjective (of a ball bowled by a slower bowler) characterised by a low, straight trajectory rather than a high ‘looping’ arc
    Citation ‘The standard of wicketkeeping … probably is higher than it has ever been in respect of keeping to pace and swing bowling; and even, which is not easy, to flat, pushed-through spin’ (Arlott 1983)
  • adjective (of the wicket) having an even and rather lifeless surface, so that the ball bounces consistently but without menace
    Citation ‘A flat wicket raises a dicey question: pack the middle order with an extra batsman for security, or play an extra bowler to dismiss the opposition?’ (Amrit Mathur, Sportstar [Chennai] 16 July 1994)
    Citation ‘Australia claimed just five South African second-innings wickets during 126 overs on the flattest Perth pitch ever produced’ (Malcolm Conn, The Age (Melbourne), 24–25 December 2006)


  • Lacking curvature. Said, for instance, of a surface, or of a frequency response.
  • Completely discharged. Said of a battery.


  • A flat dish, usually oval, on which food is presented to the customer in a restaurant

Media Studies

  • noun a wooden screen used as part of a stage set, painted to look like a door or a wall etc.


  • noun a dwelling, consisting of a set of rooms all on one storey of a building


  • adjective dull or with not enough contrast
  • noun a series of CRC pages stuck down ready for filming; imposed negatives positioned in holes on a sheet ready for plate-making

Real Estate

  • noun living quarters in part of a building, usually on one floor


  • adjective penniless. A shortened form of the colloquial ‘flat broke’, heard in raffish speech of the late 1980s.


  • A piece of stage scenery consisting of a wooden frame coveredwith stretched canvas, hardboard, or other material. It was introducedin the 17th century and has been in constant use ever since. Flatsnormally stand 18 feet high and up to eight feet wide, being supportedby weights and braces (see stage brace). A saddle-iron(sill-iron in America) is a metal strip fastened across thebottom of a flat to provide support. When standing alone, a flat mayhave a small extension, a flipper, for added strength.

    Flats can be used in various combinations. A book flatconsists of two flats hinged together. A French flat is severalflats battened together to create a back wall that can be 'flown'in one piece. A backing flat is placed outside a door, window,or other opening in a set to screen off the backstage area from theaudience. A tormentor is a narrow flat or curtain that masksthe wings, and a return is an additional piece to screenoff areas not covered by the tormentor. Flats have also been put onrollers to create moving backgrounds. The stage directions for J.R. Planché's Paris and London (1828) instructed: "Deckof the steamer - Moving Panoramic View from Calais to Doverby various Painted Flats to the scene."


  • noun a set of rooms, usually on one level, used as living accommodation
  • noun a flat dish with low straight sides, e.g. a ramekin


  • used to describe a wine that has very low acid levels, so is out of balance and lacks any crispness or liveliness and flavour
  • used to describe a sparkling wine that has lost its effervescence

Origin & History of “flat”

The Old English word for ‘flat’ was efen ‘even’, and flat was not acquired until middle English times, from Old Norse flatr. this came from a prehistoric Germanic *flataz, source also of German platt ‘flat’. And *flataz probably goes back to an Indo-European *pelə-, *plā-, denoting ‘spread out flat’, from which came Sanskrit prthūs ‘broad’, Greek platūs ‘broad’ (source of English place, plaice, plane (the tree), and platypus), Latin plānus ‘flat’ (whence English plane and plain ‘unadorned’), and also English place, plaice, plant, and flan. Flat ‘single-storey dwelling’ (19th c.) is ultimately the same word, but it has a more circuitous history. It is an alteration (inspired no doubt by the adjective flat) of a now obsolete Scottish word flet ‘interior of a house’, which came from a prehistoric Germanic *flatjam ‘flat surface, floor’, a derivative of the same source (*flataz) as produced the adjective.