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“In flux” – Here’s What You Need To Know about this Phrase

“In flux” – Here’s What You Need To Know about this Phrase

Life is all about change.

In fact, part of being alive is experiencing and going through this change.

We are born, we learn how to walk on four legs then two, we develop the ability to talk and exchange complex ideas, we fall in and out of love, we have children of our own, and we become old before we even knew what struck us.

In short, we are always growing, both physically and emotionally.

Even plants and animals experience this change.

The only things that remain stagnant to some degree are inanimate objects, and even those change but over longer periods of time.

So, it should come as no surprise to learn that English has numerous words to denote change.

You have “alter,” “differ,” “modify,” “amalgamate,” and so many more.

There are also several expressions and idioms that discuss change.

You can “blow away the cobwebs.

Something can feel “like a breath of fresh air.”

We are always happy to introduce “new blood” into our organization.

After all, many people live by the motto of “out with the old, and in with the new.”

At the end of the day, everything is always “in flux.”

I can keep going on forever.

But, instead, let’s take a closer look at that last one, “in flux,” because there’s more to it than meets the eye.


What does “in flux” mean?

When something is “in flux,” it is in a constant state of change and instability. Moreover, this change tends to happen quickly, if not instantaneously.


How to use the expression “in flux”

Seeing as “in flux” is an idiomatic expression, it is a bit informal. Granted that it’s not the most colloquial thing you could possibly say, you might still want to stay away from that expression when in the workplace unless you are talking to someone you are close to.

Friend #1: So, how’s work been?

Friend #2: Well, things have been in flux during the past couple of months. We merged with another company, had a change in management, and lost half our department to layoffs.

Reporter on TV:

Given the current instability in the Middle East, the price of oil has been in flux all week. Investors are running towards more stable commodities until things calm down a bit.


Where does “in flux” get its meaning?

Just a few sentences ago, I mentioned that “in flux” was an idiomatic expression.

Let’s explore that a little more.


The meaning of the word “flux”

The word “flux” is a noun that refers to the flow of fluid from a body. It is used to describe a sense of continuous movement, the kind you see in rivers or streams.

At the more extreme end of the spectrum, this flow could lead to a flood.

“Flux” can also be a verb. When it is a transitive verb, “flux” means “to cause to become fluid” or “to treat with a flux.” Alternatively, when it acts as an intransitive verb, it means to become “fluid.”

“Flux” has been in usage since the 14th century. If you trace it back to its origin, you’ll find that its roots can be traced to the Medieval Latin word “fluxus.”

Going back further, you’ll inevitably come across the Latin word “fluere,” which means to flow and be fluid.

And, it is this state of continuous movement, this fluidity, that gives “flux” the definition of change.

In fact, there have been numerous scientific investigations that have found that flowing rivers can actually change the land we stand on.

Rivers break rocks down into smaller pieces, they erode landmasses and change the typography, and they cut into soil and rock alike, creating islands and submerging swathes of land.

So, whenever something is in a constant state of flow, it is not only changing all the time, but it is also affecting everything around it and changing that as well.

And, when you say something is “in flux,” you are actually saying that it is in a state of “flux.” In other words, you are likening it to a flowing river, always changing directions and always impacting everything else around it.

Interestingly, most people today use “flux” to mean change. It’s only in the scientific community that people frequently use the other definitions of “flux.”


My favorite usage of “flux”

On a quick side note, anyone who’s followed my blog for a while will know that I am a big cinephile. I love movies and reference them all the time.

With that said, I could not pass the opportunity to mention my favorite use of the word “flux” in movie history. Some of you might already know what I’m alluding to.

In “Back to The Future,” as Doc is telling Marty how his time-traveling Delorian is able to traverse the space-time boundary, he explains that a key component is the “flux capacitor.” Now, obviously, there is no such thing as a flux capacitor, at least not one that will take you from the 1980s to the 1950s once you rev the car’s engine past a certain speed.


The difference between “in flux” and “influx”

Before I leave you, it is worth pointing out that “in flux” and “influx” are two completely different words with different definitions.

For starters, “in flux” is composed of two words. You have the preposition “in” and the noun “flux.”

On the other hand, “influx” is all one word and it’s a noun.

Also, while “in flux” means in a state of change, “influx” means that something is coming in, be it people or money.

Over the summer, we always expect an influx of tourists.

In the above example, you can almost imagine the tourists flowing into the country like a river going into the ocean.

Given our success over the past quarter, the business has experienced a sudden influx of capital.

Interestingly, the word “influx” has been in usage since 1626, if not earlier. It comes from the Medieval Latin “influxus,” which in turn comes from the Latin “influere.”

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