The Red Pen: “Flair” vs. “Flare”

We Need to Talk About Grammar is a weekly feature in which I complain about grammatical mistakes I encounter all too often. Feel free to commiserate below, and check out the archives here!


I love coming to Rachel’s shows, she always performs with such flare!

Now, you might think the person above likes going to Rachel’s shows because she performs with style and attitude. However, what he actually said was that she performs with blazing light and/or a burst of anger.

Flair (n.) – Obvious talent, style.
Flare (n.; v.) – Flame; to blaze with light or to burst into anger.

Emergency responders place flares along the road when they come to an accident; alternatively, your eczema can flare (or figuratively “burst into anger”), as can a birthday candle (“blaze with light”). Someone who has a talent for keeping things neat has a flair for organization.

If you have a good way to keep these straight, I’d appreciate a tip—I can’t really think of one, and I confuse these plenty!

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