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Flare vs. Flair: Learn the Difference, and How to Use Each Correctly!

Flashy Homophones…

In addition to people writing in to request illustrations of English language lessons, I often get new ideas for articles by noticing the same mistake pop up over and over in what people post online. This week’s commonly confused words are two I’ve seen people mixing up constantly: the tricky homophones FLARE vs. FLAIR! Let’s learn the difference.

FLAIR in a sentence, illustrated.
FLAIR in a sentence, illustrated.

“Flair” Definition and Meaning

“Flair” is a noun which means a talent for doing something, or a unique and exciting way of doing it. The word is often used with “for” after it (“a flair for”) or with the word “with” before it (“with flair”).

“Flair” Examples in Sentences

Here are some examples of correct usage of the word “flair,” with explanations after each to clarify the meaning, based on the context of the sentence.

  • She had such a flair for drawing that she started an entire website of her sketches!
    • In this sentence, “flair for drawing” means skill and enthusiasm for making art.
  • He ate the pear with flair, cutting the fruit into pretty diamond shapes, then throwing them in the air to catch each with his open mouth.
    • This example uses “flair” to mean fun, unique choices.
  • For me to be interested in eating that broccoli, could you add a little more flair to it, please? Maybe by putting a little sauce on it?
    • Here, “flair” means something exciting or interesting. Adding sauce would add color and flavor.
Flare definition and illustration
A FLARE in action.

“Flare” Definition and Meaning

The word “flare” can be used either as a noun or a verb. As a noun, a flare is a burst of light, for example the flashing devices used by people in distress on boats to signal for help. The noun version of “flare” means a visual widening of something, as with a flared skirt which has more fabric at the bottom than the top.

As a verb, “to flare” means to expand or get bigger and more intense (either literally or conceptually), and is sometimes followed by the word “up” to form the term “to flare up.” Let’s look at some examples.

“Flare” Examples in Sentences

  • It wasn’t so bad being stuck on a desert island because I had a giant bag of dinner rolls to eat, but once I ran out of food, I freaked out and set off an orange flare to signal for help.
    • In this sentence, “flare” describes a device which makes a burst of light that can be seen from far away.
  • I really like flared-leg jeans, but that pair over there is such a weird neon green color that it makes me flare my nostrils in disgust.
    • This example uses “flared” and “flare” to indicate a visual expansion, both in the width of the pants legs, and the size of the nostrils as they go from smaller to larger.
  • When the weather got warm, my allergies flared up, and soon I was sneezing all over the place!
    • Here, “flared up” means got worse, or expanded in intensity.
Flare vs Flair
Flare vs. Flair, together in a cartoon!

How to Remember Flare vs. Flair:

Unfortunately, it’s harder to make up mnemonic devices to remember “flare vs. flair” than it is for “stalactites vs. stalagmites” or “former vs. latter,” but let’s give it a try…

To remember the definition and spelling of “flare,” focus on the fact that “A” is the only vowel in the middle of the word. That helps you think of the sound, “Ahhh!” which is the onomatopoeia uttered when a beautiful flare goes off and flashes in the sky! The “A” is also in a flared shape like a skirt or bellbottom leg.

What about remembering “flair?” You can focus on the “i” in the middle, which helps you think of a person saying “I have a talent for this!” You can also identify that “air” is at the end of the word, and as my illustration above suggests, this could lead to the helpful memory sentence, “My cool, unique style is in the air!”

Is Flaire a Word?

No, “flaire” is NOT a word. If it did exist, it would be the impossible child made by marrying flair plus flare, but it does not actually exist… except as the made-up name of various jewelry and clothing companies.

Flair vs. Flare VIDEO:

Time-lapse drawings of the “flair” and “flare” drawings for this lesson!

Flare and Flair in Sum

I’ve seen so many of these typos flare up lately that it seemed a lesson like this was in order! I hope my flair for silly cartoons will help the solution to the flare versus flair dilemma stick in your mind.

Want more homophones? Be sure to check out “Awe vs. Aww,” “Whose vs. Who’s,” “Everyday vs. Every Day,” “Apart vs. A Part,” “Past vs. Passed,” and “Your vs. You’re.” Keep those English lesson requests coming, and happy learning!

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Biana

Sunday 22nd of August 2021

I always like your clear explanations and the cartoons! The cartoons so clearly illustrate your point.

Lillie Marshall

Sunday 22nd of August 2021

Thanks, Biana!

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