The Difference Between Flair and Flare

Commonly Confused Words

flair and flare
A young woman in a forest holding a distress flare. (Steven Ritzer/EyeEm/Getty Images)

The words flair and flare are homophones: they sound the same but have different meanings.

Definitions

The noun flair means a talent or a distinctive quality or style.

As a noun, flare means a fire or a blazing light. As a verb, flare means to burn with an unsteady flame or shine with a sudden light. Violence, troubles, tempers, and nostrils can flare.

Examples

  • "His clothes were tailor-made, and he wore them with a casual flair."
    (Maya Angelou, Gather Together in My Name. Random House, 1974)
  • "He lit the flare with his hand covering his face, as she had taught him, and stepped back before the magnesium fully lit."
    (Manda Scott, The Crystal Skull. Delacorte Press, 2008)
     
  • "Old rivalries are rekindled and put aside; old romances flare for a moment and subside into the general warmth, the diffuse love."
    (John Updike, "My Father's Tears." The New Yorker, February 27, 2006)

Idiom Alerts

  • The expression to have a flair for (something) means to have a talent or special ability for doing something.
    "You don't know where, exactly, she learned to call you the worst parent in the entire history of the planet, but once you said no to the ice cream, she started broadcasting the notion throughout the restaurant, complete with dramatic tears. The girl has a certain flair for drama, but you wish she'd save it for theater class rather than perform a tragedy at a fast-food restaurant."
    (Amy McCready, The Me, Me, Me Epidemic. Penguin, 2015)
     
  • The expression to flare up means to occur suddenly or to express a strong negative emotion. A flare-up is a sudden outburst.
    "Brush fire spreads erratically and unpredictably. A gust of wind often changes a small ground fire into a sudden, ranging inferno of flaming brush—a flare-up. Firefighters trying to make their way through thick brush are sometimes caught in a flare-up and burned to death."
    (Vincent Dunn, Strategy of Firefighting. PennWell, 2007)


    Practice

    (a) The bright lantern was mistaken for a distress _____.

    (b) With her natural _____ for the dramatic, Wendy single-handedly arranged the biggest media event that the company had ever staged.

    (c) "[T]he crew and I had to become family. We had to bond in order to understand the subtleties of our personalities. Tension could get high and tempers _____ when winning was on the line."
    (Bobby Unser with Paul Pease, Winners are Driven, 2003)

    Answers to Practice Exercises: Flair and Flare

    (a) The bright lantern was mistaken for a distress flare.

    (b) With her natural flair for the dramatic, Wendy single-handedly arranged the biggest media event that the company had ever staged.

    (c) "[T]he crew and I had to become family. We had to bond in order to understand the subtleties of our personalities. Tension could get high and tempers flare when winning was on the line."
    (Bobby Unser with Paul Pease, Winners are Driven, 2003)

    Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

    200 Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs

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    Your Citation
    Nordquist, Richard. "The Difference Between Flair and Flare." ThoughtCo, Nov. 16, 2017, thoughtco.com/flair-and-flare-1689389. Nordquist, Richard. (2017, November 16). The Difference Between Flair and Flare. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/flair-and-flare-1689389 Nordquist, Richard. "The Difference Between Flair and Flare." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/flair-and-flare-1689389 (accessed May 23, 2018).