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John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Word Stuff: lair


In the 14th century, to have flair" (or "flayre" as it was then commonly spelled), meant to have "an odor." The word derived from the Old French verb "flairer" ("to give off an odor"), which came in turn from Late Latin "flagrare," itself an alteration of "fragrare." (The English words "fragrant" and "fragrance" also derive from "fragrare.") The "odor" sense of "flair" fell out of use, but in the 19th century English speakers once again borrowed "flair" from the French—this time (influenced by the Modern French use of the word for the sense of smell) to indicate a discriminating sense or instinctive discernment.