How to Speak Gymnastics: The Flare and the Flair

Oh, Code of Points. No one is ever going to accuse you of being written clearly, but we’ve got to work on your vocabulary. It’s embarrassing.

I’m barely even going to touch why flair is capitalized and in quotation marks in the first description. Is it a proper noun? Is it named after Evangelina Flair, the originator of the skill? Are you using it sarcastically?
No, stop. The important thing here is that you have selected the incorrect word and have inspired generations of people weirdly obsessed with gymnastics to mimic your mistake. I believe you were looking for flare.
The noun flare means, among other things, “a spreading out or widening.” It has evolved from the verb of the same spelling, which originated in the 16th century to mean “to spread out in display.” This is the exact sense intended in gymnastics (we’re very traditional). The legs are spread out in display, and everyone goes, “Oooooh.”
Flair, on the other hand, means “stylishness and originality,” and while a flare may certainly be performed with flair, flair is a concept or a quality and not a skill in gymnastics. That would be like naming skills after enthusiasm or pizzazz. Flair is something you have; flare is something you do.
Let’s review. Peng Peng Lee will be our study partner. 

Step one: flair

Step two: flare

The end. 

6 thoughts on “How to Speak Gymnastics: The Flare and the Flair”

  1. Hmm, I'm going to have to politely disagree. When the skill was invented, did the gymnastics community consider it a circle done with flair? Or was it considered a circle done by flaring one's legs? The 1979 New York Times article on the skill suggests that it was the former. Grace Lichtenstein said that it was a skill done “with a flourish.”


  2. Plus, one would have wanted to capitalize on the idea of originality at that time. The Code rewarded originality, and by choosing the “air” version of the homophone, the American camp was able to tell the gymnastics community that they were innovators–just like the rest of the world.


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