PSA: Flesh or Flush?

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There seems to be some confusion on campus about whether the phrase is “to flesh out” or “to flush out.” Only one is correct and yet people use both as though they are interchangeable. It’s an epidemic. As comedian Gary Gulman once said, using the wrong phrase is the “verbal equivalent of spinach in your teeth.”So, I’d like to clarify this once and for all.

According to Merriam Webster: “To flesh out something is to give it substance, or to make it fuller or more nearly complete. To flush out something is to cause it to leave a hiding place.”

Let’s unpack that.

When you say:  

“I think you could really flesh out that idea.”

You are saying:

“I think you should develop that concept.”

When you say:

“I think you could really flush out that idea”

You are saying:

NOTHING! THAT MEANS NOTHING!

Please. Spread the word. You wouldn’t let a friend walk around with spinach in their teeth would you?

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