"Flair" or "flare"?

Although pronounced identically, flair and flare have different meanings. So what is the difference? The following explanation and quiz should give you a flair for telling the difference between the two.

Flair is a noun and means 'a natural ability or talent', as in:

She had a flair for languages.

None of us had much artistic flair.

Flare however can appear as a noun and a verb. The noun can mean a number of things, in particular:

  • A burst of light or flame – the flare of a match
  • A device used to produce a flame – a distress flare
  • A sudden burst of emotion – a flare of rage
  • A sudden recurrence of an inflammation or other medical condition – a flare up of eczema
  • A sudden explosion in the chromosphere and corona of the sun or another star – a solar flare
  • Illumination on film caused by internal reflection in a camera – a lens flare
  • Trousers whose legs get progressively wider from the knees down – a pair of flares
  • An upward and outward curve of a ship's bows, designed to throw the water outwards when in motion

The verb of flare is used to describe some of the above scenarios:

  • Burn with a sudden intensity - The bonfire crackled and flared up.
  • Become intense, violent, or angry – the supporter’s tempers flared
  • Gradually become wider – the trousers flared at one end; his nostrils flared

But as the two words are pronounced identically, it is easy to see why these often become confused. Take our quiz to see if you can tell the difference between the two.

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