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Is It Flare or Flair? When Do We Use Each and How?

Is It Flare or Flair? When Do We Use Each and How?

Specific pairs of words sound right when heard but look different when read or seen in writing. Such similar words are referred to as homophones. The words “flare” and “flair”, for instance, are similar sounding words with different meanings and usages.

The word “flare” could mean “fire”, “a firework”, “a brief light burst”, etc. The noun “flair” denotes “talent” or a “special skill”. Unlike “flair”, “flare” can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, and even figuratively. Use the respective words in sentences considering their meanings and types.

Thanks to the similarity in spellings and pronunciations, it can be difficult to distinguish “flare” from “flair”, or vice versa. Keep reading to learn more about these two words, their differences, how to use them in different sentences and writing contexts, etc.

flare of golden light

“Flare” – Definition

The noun “flare” means “a blazing light or fire”. When incorporated as a verb, it denotes “burning with an unsteady shine or flame”. Things that usually “flare” include “troubles”, “violence”, “nostrils”, “tempers”, etc.

As a verb, “flare” could also mean “a shape that widens”, typically at or from the bottom – for instance, “Her black jeans flared near the bottom”. It means the jeans grew wider or bigger near its bottom. The “bell bottom” pants of yore were also called “flares”, by the way.

When the word is used as an adjective, it could mean “increasing quickly and unsteadily” – for instance, “the birthday cake candles flared suddenly”, which means the candles’ flames flickered and gained momentum.

A “lens flare” denotes “illumination on roll film set off by a camera’s internal reflection”. In the medical context and even in general talk, a “flare-up” means “worsening of a condition or disease’s symptoms or an illness’ sudden manifestation”.

“Flair” – Definition

The word “flair” denotes a “talent” or “the ability to make correct use of or appreciate something”. The word’s meaning, however, is not just limited to “talent”.

At times, or based on the sentence it’s used in, the term could also mean “how a certain thing is done or pulled off”. In short, “flair” also means “distinctive style or quality”. A few synonyms of the word or related terms include “ability”, “aptitude”, panache”, etc.

P.S. Though “flair” and “flare” are pronounced and spelled similarly, they do not share the same roots or origins, unlike quite a few other pairs of homophones you may know.

Using the Word “Flare” in Writings

As mentioned above, the word “flare” can be used as a noun, a verb, an adjective, etc. When used as a noun, the term is typically used to denote a signal of sorts. For example:

  • The local airport sets flares to guide aircraft as they land.
  • The stranded man lit a flare to grab the attention of the planes that were on surveillance duty.

Since “flare” can also be used as a verb, here are a couple of sentences demonstrating the same:

  • Her dress is not flaring at the bottom.
  • The fans’ tempers flared.

The term “flare” could also be used figuratively, typically denoting a rekindled passion. For example:

  • Seeing him after almost a decade caused her inner passions to flare as she gazed upon him.

Kindly note, the word “flare” used in the above sentence denotes feelings of passion and not necessarily romance, as the latter is unlikely to “flare-up” or experience a sudden outburst.

Using “Flare” in Idioms

The word “flare” is not just multi-faceted as a word type but also in the way it gets used in sentences. More than just a handful of idioms or expressions have the word “flare” in them, which include:

  • Flare-up: The “flare-up” expression denotes something that “suddenly occurs”, or it can be used to express “strong negative feelings or emotions”. If you don’t monitor what you eat, your gout could flare-up.
  • Flare out: The phrase “flare out”, as mentioned above, means “getting wider”, typically at the bottom of something. “As she danced, Agnetha’s skirt flared out around her knees.”
  • Flare off: Primarily used in industrial contexts, the expression “flare off” means “burning off into the atmosphere”. “Energy producers in the state flared off natural gas worth close to $1 billion over the three months.”

skills flair graphic art white yellow

Using the Term “Flair” in Texts

The term “flair” is always or only used as a noun. When using it in sentences, therefore, use the word to denote a particular skill or talent. For example:

  • The girl has quite a flair for painting.

The sentence indicates the subject (the girl) has a special gift or an innate ability for painting. As the term “flair” also means “distinctive quality”, the above sentence could also be interpreted or construed as the girl’s paintings are distinctive or set apart from similar work.

As mentioned above, “flair” not just denotes “talent”. It may also mean how things get done. For example:

  • She wore those outfits with tremendous flair.

In the above sentence, the word “flair” doesn’t denote “talent” or “skill”. In other words, the subject didn’t possess a unique “talent” to pull those outfits off. It instead means the woman or subject wore those outfits with a distinct style of her own or displayed a certain panache sporting the costume.

That said, the word “flair” in the sentence may also imply the subject does possess a gift or talent for dressing well – something not everybody is adept at.

Also, the noun “flair” is almost always immediately followed up by the word “for”, as in “he has a flair for“.

Distinguishing “Flare” and “Flair”

The word “flared”, the past tense of “flare”, can be employed to distinguish “flare” and flair”. In other words, the term “flared” has the word “red” in it. As mentioned above, “flare” could be used to denote “fire”. Though fire is predominantly orange, it can be discernibly yellow and “red” too.

Here is another mnemonic trick: the term “flare” is usually used with “up”, as in “flared up”. Therefore, if you hear the phrase in relation to someone’s temper or a small blaze, you can be certain that the word being used is “flared”.

Not to mention, the usage of “flare” in multiple idioms makes it easy to ascertain which of the two words is being used. You just need to be familiar with those idioms.

Example Sentences with the Word “Flare”

Here are sentences using the term “flare” as a noun, verb, adjective, and in pretty much every other possible way:

  • The pine tree flared at its bottom.
  • While the team was focused and determined not to fall prey to distractions, a minor flare-up during the second half, albeit momentarily, derailed that resolve.
  • She wore flared sleeves, bold hues, and full-bodied skirts.
  • This would create solar flares or light streaks, giving a fun twist to things.
  • Weeks after the controversy initially flared, emotions over the advert were still running high.
  • She flared up and insisted the guilty get punished.
  • The entire flare-up lasted for close to a week.
  • Excessive sweating or humid weather conditions could flare up your acne.
  • The sudden flare completely sabotaged her night vision.
  • His flat-front trousers have a distinct flare.
  • Flares are employed for illumination, signaling, and even as defensive countermeasures in military and civilian applications.

Example Sentences with the Term “Flair”

The following is a list of sentences incorporating the noun “flair”:

  • Mark has got some flair for storytelling.
  • Ric Flair, true to his name, exhibited flair like nobody else in the wrestling ring.
  • The city is well-known for its Indo Chinese flair.
  • Google Camera’s algorithms can add some flair to pretty much any photo taken through the app.
  • A restaurant’s true personality and flair can be usually found in its signature cocktails.
  • The metal bands, work singularly or as layers, evoke a kind of ethnic flair.
  • That one-minute speech spoke volumes of his flair and confidence.
  • Marie had a certain flair that the older woman was clearly devoid of.
  • Their ideas lack the creative flair that your proposals had.
  • The Africans are known across the globe for their flair for dance and music.
  • Excellently designed with flair and style, the hotel is known for next-level luxury.
  • Throw in an oriental rug to add some flair and color to the décor.
  • Garnish the cocktail with cherries and orange slices to give it a tropical flair.
  • She played the instrument with tremendous flair and imagination.
  • The writing is no doubt good, but it lacks flair.


burst of multicolored lights

Compared to “flair”, “flare” is a more versatile word. In other words, it can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, and even figuratively. “Flair”, on the other hand, is less dynamic or can be worked into sentences only as a noun.

This variance in their use-case scenarios should help ascertain which word to use in lieu of another. In other words, if the word to be used is a noun, it can be either “flair” or “flare”. But if the word needed is anything but a noun, it is always “flare”.

If you are quite familiar with the two terms, confusions shall not arise even if the word in contention is a noun.