Do You Write With Flare?

I hope your answer to the title question is "No!"

Before you think too hard about the title, let me admit that it's a trick question.

It's a confusing word pair: flare and flair. I was reminded of it the other day when someone who speaks English as a second language wanted feedback on how well a copyeditor had edited an article for her. Unfortunately, the editor had missed a flare/flair error in the article's title!

So here's a quick reminder, whether you are a copyeditor, a proofreader, or a writer who wants to create error-free documents:

Flair is talent, aptitude, or style:
You have a flair for costuming. He writes with wit and flair.

All other uses of the homonyn require flare, which is both a noun and a verb:
He used a flare to warn oncoming traffic. She experienced a flare of anger. That flare in the night sky adds interest to the photo. I saw something flare in the next campsite. Tempers flared. His symptoms flared.

So write with flair, perhaps building on a flare (sudden burst) of creativity.

To sort out 60 other confusing word pairs and trios, get my 60 Quick Word Fixes

Lynn
Syntax Training

Previous articleTips for Successful E-Newsletters
Next articlePlease See Attached
Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact. A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors. A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media. Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Here in Canada we have an entire magazine called “Flare”. It’s a fashion magazine, so I think the actual intent of the title is “Flair”.

  2. Rita, very interesting!

    I wonder why the publishers didn’t choose “Flair.” Perhaps there’s another magazine by that name.

    Ah . . . My husband just informed me that the Paper Mate company has a pen called “Flair.” I suppose they own the trademark.

  3. I knew there was something off about the title…I can’t believe you tricked me! Awesome post. Getting the meaning of words correct (especially homonyms) is extremely important for good writing. 🙂

Comments are closed.