... perhaps to attract interest, envy or curiosity. That's really all. Thanks in advance.

PS: words that I have already in mind? Few! I thought of "lure" but hmm that's not even close.

The word may go in the dotted space in these examples:

The man ... his muscles, threatening with fight.

The scientist ... his knowledge by a technical question.

"Glimpse" is close. In my context it would be: to give or allow a glimpse of something. But it doesn't convey purpose of attracting attention. Better ones?


  • Your examples suggest you want a verb, but from the rest of the text it looks like nouns are OK too?
    – user303030
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 9:25
  • @JanDoggen, yes nouns can be useful too in which case they would need a proper companion verb like "give a glimpse".
    – infatuated
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 4:23
  • heh, dude, you used the word in your own title.... and all you have to do is add at after it: - the man hinted at his muscles - the scientist hinted at his knowledge
    – omu_negru
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 14:10
  • @omu_negru, But I'm asking for more than hint because there are other elements in my intended meaning, e.g. attracting interest, curiosity, etc. Anyway, I think I am pleased with the selected answer.
    – infatuated
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 15:53

4 Answers 4


Flash has several dictionary entries, including:

  1. to break forth in or like a sudden flame or flare

4a. to break forth or out so as to make a sudden display

  1. to have sudden insight —often used with on

I think this fits well for your first example sentence,

The man flashed his muscles, threatening with fight.

Not so well (but understandable in context) for your second example sentence,

The scientist flashed his knowledge by a technical question.

  • Yes, this fits well with animals (and people) flashing their eyes as a display of aggression. Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 15:53
  • Note that in the second case it should be with a technical question. Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 12:28
  • 5
    You flash your teeth. You flex your muscles. If you write something about someone "flashing" his muscles, I'm going to wonder what your mother tongue is, and where you learned English.
    – JRE
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 15:11
  • 1
    @JRE, I actually looked up the word in the Longman Dictionary and I saw idioms that fairly match my intended meaning, that's why I selected this answer. 4 flash a smile/glance/look etc (at somebody) to smile or look at someone quickly and for a short time : ‘I love this city,’ he said, flashing a big smile. 5 show something quickly [ transitive ] to show something to someone for only a short time: He flashed his identification card.
    – infatuated
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 4:27
  • 1
    @infatuated: Not all synonyms are appropriate in all circumstances. And, sometimes there just isn't a single word that expresses what you mean.
    – JRE
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 5:35

A "word for showing a small part of something briefly to hint to its existence or beauty without fully uncovering it" is tease:

tease n.2

An act of teasing someone

‘Calgary has been privy to teases of his product at shops such as Oxygen in Bankers Hall, and in Kensington at both Brooklyn for men and Splash for women.’

‘To make Maxim sell, they pumped up the page turning teases and never really delivered much.’

Oxford via Lexico

tease v.1.1

Tempt (someone) sexually with no intention of satisfying the desire aroused.


In this case the sexual aspect is downplayed, but the action of a brief reveal with the hint of more to come — to attract interest or curiosity — is reminiscent of a sexual tease, as the quotes demonstrate.



Or, rather, flexed for your examples.

The relevant dictionary meaning (from American Heritage via TFD) is:

  1. To exhibit or show off the strength of: "They had spent six years since the lightning Six Day War flexing their invincibility" (Howard Kaplan).

It probably conveys more permanence than you require because things can be "flexed" for a while ("flashed" as in another answer might be better), but I think that a scientist "flexes" their knowledge rather than "flashes" it. "Flex" conveys an idea of strength (because it usually applies to muscles) and seems a little less superficial than "flash".


Allude to could work here:

Definition of allude to: to speak of or mention (something or someone) in an indirect way

I'm interested in hearing more about the technology you alluded to a minute ago.

It works better with your second example, though ("The scientist alluded to his knowledge by a technical question"), since the first seems to involve a physical demonstration rather than an implication.

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