Posted by: episystechpubs | May 23, 2012

Editor’s Corner: Flesh or Flush?

Your requests tell me it’s time for some frequently confused words and phrases. These definitions are from Common Errors in English Usage, by Paul Brians. (Also available online at: http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/)

FLESH OUT/FLUSH OUT

To “flesh out” an idea is to give it substance, as a sculptor adds clay flesh to a skeletal armature. To “flush out” a criminal is to drive him or her out into the open. The latter term is derived from bird-hunting, in which one flushes out a covey of quail. If you are trying to develop something further, use “flesh”; but if you are trying to reveal something hitherto concealed, use “flush.”

FORMALLY/FORMERLY

These two are often mixed up in speech. If you are doing something in a formal manner, you are behaving formally; but if you previously behaved differently, you did so formerly.

PERSPECTIVE/PROSPECTIVE

“Perspective” has to do with sight, as in painting, and is usually a noun. “Prospective” generally has to do with the future… (“What are your prospects, young man?”) and is usually an adjective. [KC – At work we are speaking of “prospective clients,” not “perspective clients,” Unless, of course, you are talking about on-site visitors here to teach you the best way to use charcoal pencils to draw
a barn off in the distance. J]

Kara Church | Senior Technical Editor

Symitar, A Jack Henry Company

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123


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