A flashlight is a hand-held portable electric spotlight. It is known as a flashlight mainly in the United States and Canada and as a torch in most Commonwealth countries. A typical flashlight consists of a small electric lightbulb, powered by electric batteries, and with an electric power switch. The components are mounted in a casing that contains the necessary electric circuit and provides ease of handling, a means of access to the batteries for replacement, and a clear covering over the lightbulb for protection.
Although the flashlight is a relatively simple device, it wasn't invented until the late 19th century because it depended upon the invention of the electric battery and electric light. The batteries in the first ones were of such short useful life that the common method of operating them was to flash them just long enough to discern the environs, and only as needed; hence the term "flashlight".
Recently, flashlights which use LEDs instead of conventional lightbulbs have become available. LEDs are far more efficient, and use less power than normal lightbulbs. Such flashlights have longer battery lifetimes. LEDs also survive sharp blows that often break conventional lightbulbs. Another innovation in flashlight design is the headlamp, a flashlight worn on the head for hands-free operation.