Flash mob

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Flash mob is a recently coined word whose meaning is evolving. We will look at the original definition of the term flash mob, how the term is changing, where it comes from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A flash mob is a group of people who come together to perform a dance or random act at a public place for the surprise and entertainment of those who happen to be in the public space at the time. Flash mobs are organized on various social media platforms, they disperse immediately after performing. The term was coined by Bill Wasik, a senior editor of Harper’s Magazine who conceived and organized the first flash mobs in 2003. Originally, flash mob referred to a group of people brought together to perform a benign and pointless act for entertainment. In 2011 the term was first applied to a group of people who came together to perform a lawless act, such as robbing a retail store. These flash mobs are also organized through social media. Flash mob is a compound word, which is two words that are joined together to form a new word with a different meaning from the original two words. Note that flash mob is rendered as two separate words according to the Oxford English Dictionary, though as the term ages it is seen more often as hyphenated, or even as one word.


An off-duty police detective and his wife were injured when they tried to stop a so-called “flash mob” attack by several Philadelphia youths, police said. (The New York Daily News)

Stroll through park turns into flash-mob wedding proposal (Chinchilla News)

A group of about 20 people made sure World Kindness Day did not go unobserved in Polk County: they gathered Sunday for a flashmob event in Lakeside Village’s central courtyard. (The Ledger)