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Flesh Out or Flush Out?

They're both English expressions, but they mean different things. 

By
Mignon Fogarty,

 

Flesh out and flush out are both English expressions, but they mean different things. So don’t feel bad if you don’t always know which one to use.

Flesh Out

When you are developing a project—putting more meat on its bones, so to speak—you are fleshing it out. To flesh out is to expand something or build it up.

Let's flesh out this proposal and make it more meaty.

We need an all-day meeting to flesh out these ideas.

Flush Out

When you shoo a flock of birds out of hiding, you are flushing them out. Flush out is also a metaphor for revealing things or clearing them out.

The hunters flushed out their prey.

Let’s flush out that politician’s real backers.

And that was your quick and dirty tip: fleshing out is bulking something up and flushing out is clearing something out or making it visible.

 

Get more tips like this in my book 101 Misused Words.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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