Writing | One Small Letter, Big Difference

And there it was.

A nationally recognized journalist was using an eggcorn, on live TV:  “Let’s flush out the picture.”

What they meant was: “Let’s flesh out the picture.”

The difference between “flush” and “flesh” is a classic eggcorn.

In this particular instance, only one letter changes, but the meaning shifts radically:

Flesh out: Add detail, provide additional description or depth. Create something more thorough and complete.
Flush out: Get rid of, clear out, wash away. Simplify the scope and eliminate distractions.

An eggcorn, as you recall, occurs when an incorrect word or phrase is substituted for another. While sometimes amusing, eggcorns differ from puns because the substitution is accidental and any humor or miscommunication is unintentional.

Pay attention when you see or hear the phrase “flush out.” Ninety percent of the time, the writer/speaker actually means “flesh out.”

Yes, one small letter makes a big difference.




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Anonymous said...

Saw this recently: "And so the case and point is ..."

I think they meant "case in point."

Is that an eggcorn?

Barbara Spencer Hawk said...

Your guess looks right to me, they appear to mean "case in point."

It's either an eggcorn or a classic example of an autocorrect feature making a well-intended but inaccurate "fix."

Anonymous said...

Here's one I saw this morning:

"I feel like I am on a role."

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