Flair/Flare – one of my favorite homophones. One of my first jobs waiting tables at a chain restaurant where we were encouraged to express ourselves by adding pieces of flair to our uniforms (chain shall remain nameless). And you can’t really talk about flair without quoting scenes from the movie “Office Space” where Jennifer Aniston’s character is criticized for only having the minimum number of pieces of flair on her uniform.
Even though these words sound the same, their meanings are very different and these words are not interchangeable.
Flair – a natural talent or aptitude; distinctive elegance or style
Example: She had a real flair for soufflé.
Example: He wore that hat with a lot of flair.
Flare – a fire or a blazing light (noun); to burn with an unsteady flame, or a sudden or brief burst of light, or to start up or burst out in a sudden, fierce activity (verb)
Example: My father always concluded his lectures by flaring his nostrils.
Example: The forest fire flared up with the increased winds.
Flair – with an i – describes something that an individual is good at. Individual = i; flair = i.
Flare – with an e – describes a flame (either literal or figurative). Flame = e; flare = e.
If you have a flair for flares, you can plan the next July 4th fireworks celebration. If you have a flare for flairs? Well, I picture a flame-wielding actor. Not sure I’d want to see that.
Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire, and (hopefully) has a flair for words.