War of words: is it ‘flesh out’ or ‘flush out’?

08 Sep 2005

Rich Sloan

Rich Sloan is chief startupologist and co-founder of StartupNation and host of StartupNation podcasts. He is also co-author of the acclaimed how-to book, StartupNation: America's Leading Entrepreneurial Experts Reveal the Secrets to Building a Blockbuster Business. Rich encourages you to make a comment under his blog posts or send him a personal message at member nickname, "Rich," here at StartupNation.

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Well folks, it’s time to go public with this debate (and maybe even resolve it).

The conflict revolves around the usage of a common phrase we hear in business meetings:

"Yes, we can fl_sh that out and report back to you at our meeting next week."

Was that, "flesh that out"? or "flush that out"?

People say it so fast! Maybe they slur it on purpose out of self doubt. Hmmm…

Our former marketing director chimed in on the topic one day, insistent that the correct usage is "flush."

We didn’t buy it. We were in the "flesh" camp. Then, a couple of days later, we were on a conference call with one of our big accounts, and heard them say, "Sounds great! We’ll flush this out and get back to you with the details."

That didn’t help matters. Our marketing director walked into our office after the call with a big "see, I told you so" smile on her face.

So we started asking everyone for their opinion. (and you are welcome to express yours if you are clearly on one side or the other…). The consensus was to go with "flesh it out." As in, adding meat to the bones.

And, so, we published last week’s newsletter with an article that had the phrase "…Flesh Out…" in its title.

Everything was hunky dory until today… when we received an email from Don. here’s what it said:

full_name: DON XXXXXXXXX

email_address: XXXXXXXXX@AOL.COM

message: HI GUYS,



I circulated Don’s email to the team here and immediately the debate was back on!

Personally, we think the phrase should temporarily be changed to:

"Let’s flsh this out"

No vowels at all! Until, that is, someone can get us to the bottom line here…

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