Posted by: Jack Henry | October 27, 2020

Editor’s Corner: In Like Flynn

Good morning dear readers. Today I have an idiom to discuss with you: in like Flynn. It’s definitely not one I have ever used, but I find it interesting because I always thought people were saying “in like flint.” That didn’t really make much sense, since this is the definition of flint from Google®:

1. a hard gray rock

2. a piece of flint, especially as flaked or ground in ancient times to form a tool or weapon

3. a piece of flint used with steel to produce an igniting spark, e.g., in a flintlock gun, or (in modern use) a piece of an alloy used similarly, especially in a cigarette lighter

And of course, there’s Flint, Michigan, known in past news for its delicious tap water.

Rocks and a city, neither of those made sense, but I still heard the vault robbers or trespassers in movies saying, “in like flint.” When I received the following information from the Grammarist, suddenly, it made so much more sense. This is for those of you, like me, who heard the phrase or spoke the phrase incorrectly! Enjoy!

In like Flynn means to be immediately successful or to have achieved acceptance. The idiom in like Flynn carries the connotation of being in a state where one will continue to find success. The expression in like Flynn came into use in the American army in the 1940s, though its origin is murky.

Most believe it is somehow tied to the actor Errol Flynn, who always portrayed a successful swashbuckler in his movies. The fact that the word “in” and the name “Flynn” rhyme probably helped to make this phrase popular.

Another small faction believes that the “Flynn” in in like Flynn refers to New York political boss Edward J. Flynn, whose candidates never lost. Both theories might be true. Perhaps men from New York entered the army during World War II using a local, colloquial phrase alluding to a political boss, but the phrase was picked up by others with the idea of invoking Errol Flynn.

This sounds like a logical explanation to me! I remember when I was a kid, Mom told me that she always thought Errol Flynn was quite dreamy.

I hope you have a great day!

Errol Flynn in Technicolor

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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