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Commonly Confused Words: Flair vs. Flare


What does each word mean?

If you have flair, it means you have natural talent for something or a distinctive and stylish elegance.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is flair used in some example sentences:

  • It was only the pupil’s first piano lesson, but the teacher could already tell he had a flair for music.
  • Her clothes have such flair, don’t you think?

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word flair.

If a something flares, it spreads outwards. The word is often used to describe sudden bursts or light, fire, or emotion.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is flare used in some example sentences:

  • He flared his nostrils in exasperation.
  • Over the ocean, they saw a red flare shoot into the night’s sky.
  • The fashion was to wear flared trousers.

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word flare.

Where does each word come from?

In the mid-fourteenth century, the word flair used to mean ‘odour’. It came from the Old French ‘flaire’ meaning ‘fragrance, sense of smell’, which in turn came from the Latin ‘fragrare’ meaning ‘emit (a sweet) odour’. The word’s modern meaning is American English and dates back to 1925. This meaning probably derives from hunting and a dog’s skill for tracking an animal’s scent.

The origin of flare is uncertain, but the word dates back to the 1540s and perhaps comes from Scandinavian or Dutch. The meaning ‘to shine out with sudden light’ is from the 1630s, the meaning ‘giving off of a bright, unsteady light’ from 1814, the meaning ‘signal fire’ from 1883, and the meaning ‘flared trousers’ from 1964.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between these words?

  • Flair has the word air in it.
  • Say the following sentence to yourself: ‘He had a real flair for hairdressing.’
  • Say the following sentence to yourself: ‘Take care when you light that flare.’

Where can I find other posts about easy-to-confuse words?

Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary.


07 Aug 2017
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