As I’m sure you are well aware, English has a lot of confusing words—and flare and flair are no exception. Both native and non-native English speakers alike commonly confuse these two words. They are a classic example of a set of homophones, meaning they are pronounced the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings.
What is the Difference Between Flair and Flare?
Unlike some homophones that share a similar origin and common history, flare is an unrelated word that is distinct entirely from flair. Today, I want to go over the definitions of these two words, what their differences are, and give you a few tips to make sure you’re using the correct one. By the end of this post, you won’t ever confuse flair vs. flare again.
When to Use Flair
Flair functions solely a noun and has two primary meanings. The first is a special or instinctive aptitude or ability to do something well. The second meaning is distinctive elegance or style. For example,
- He has a natural flair for all things mechanical.
- The server served our food with flair.
If you have ever seen the movie Office Space, the character Jennifer Anniston played had to wear at least 15 pieces of “flair” to work each day.
When to Use Flare
Flare can function as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it means a brief wavering blaze of light (such as an emergency flare); a sudden outburst, as of emotion or activity; and an expanding or outward opening. For example,
- I struck the match and there was a sudden flare of light.
- The ship’s crew sent up flares to alert everyone of their emergency.
- There was a flare-up of fighting in the bar.
- I like my jeans to have a flare at the bottom.
As a verb, flare means to blaze with sudden, bright light; to burst out in anger; and to expand or open outward. As you can see, these are all related to the noun’s meanings. For example,
- The wildfire flared up from a single match.
- Tempers were flaring at the board meeting last week.
- His nostrils tend to flare up when he gets angry.
Quiz and Sentence Examples
- I see that you have a ______ for public speaking.
- Every year around this time my allergies ______ up.
- This restaurant has a distinct Southern ______.
- Be careful that does not ______ in anyone’s face.
Display the answers below
Remember the Difference
A good way to remember the difference between these two words is to look at the word flared. Flared has the word red in it, and a flare is a sudden burst of light, oftentimes a flame. Flames are red and flared has the word red in it.
Flared is also commonly paired with the word up, so in sentences where you see an up directly following, flare is probably the right word to pick.
These two words, despite sounding the same, are unrelated and have different meanings. For this reason, it’s important to know when to use the correct word, flare vs. flair.
Flair is a noun that refers to an outstanding talent or originality and stylishness.
Flare can be both a noun and a verb. It is most commonly used to mean a sudden outburst, whether that be a bright light, a flame, or emotion.