Flesh Out or Flush Out?

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

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

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.

That's 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 Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.

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