- On April 9, 2014
In response to my bulletin on home in and hone in, a former agency colleague wrote, “This one bugs me almost as much as flesh out/flush out.”
If you’re in the business of turning ideas into full-fledged campaigns, you may have wondered which word to use. Maybe you’ve even mashed up the vowel hoping what you say could be interpreted either way.
So when your idea needs to be amplified, do you flesh it out or flush it out?
The answer is you flesh it out, just as you would add flesh to your bones were you to become skeletal from malnutrition. To flesh out means to add substance to something.
To flush out, which calls to mind a juice cleanse, means to cause something to leave a hiding place. Hidden toxins flushed out by gallons of kale juice! Or, if you prefer a more standard example of correct usage, “The hunting dogs flushed the birds out of the trees.”
If your goal is to develop something further use flesh, but if you’re trying to uncover something previously concealed, use flush.