Flush Out/Flesh Out

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 25 21:32:25 UTC 2006

FWIW, probably not much in this concept, uh, context, "flesh" is pronounced
"flush" by a _lot_ of BE speakers all over the country. And, again FWIW,
I've heard locutions like "flush the poisons out of your system' for as long
as I've been able to understand English. And given the number of patent
medicines that promise to do that for you, I'd almost be willing to bet that
it has been in print with that meaning for quite some time. Maybe I can find
an old "Black-Draught-sometimes-called-'Black-Drawt'" calendar somewhere.


On 4/25/06, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at csli.stanford.edu> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Flush Out/Flesh Out
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Apr 25, 2006, at 12:39 PM, Baker, John wrote:
> >         A Google search for "flush out" gave this blog entry,
> > http://www.startupnation.com/blog/entry.asp?ENTRY_ID=124, as the
> > second
> > choice.  It seems that a distressingly large number of people who
> > commented on this blog entry do not know the meaning of "flush out,"
> > which means to drive from a hiding place into the open, as a dog
> > flushes
> > out quail.  Many of them think it means to purge, like the flush of a
> > toilet (and if enough think that, I suppose it will come to have that
> > meaning).  Many simply asserted that "flesh out" is always
> > correct.  Is
> > this because they live in places where people do not hunt birds?  Like
> > politics, it seems to be an area where lack of knowledge is no
> > impediment to providing an opinion.
> "flush out" for "flesh out" 'give substance or detail to' is in the
> eggcorn database:
>    http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/english/349/flush/
> but now i see that there might be even more to the story.  "flush
> out" 'purge' is of course literal.  but i suspect that lots of people
> *don't* know the hunting sense.
> arnold
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