Word of the Day: flake

Word of the Day
April 22, 2016
flake (noun, verb)
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Flakes of snow falling
A flake is a very small and thin piece that has come off of something larger. It also refers to the single tiny pieces we see when it snows. In informal US English, a flake is a really eccentric person, whereas in British and sometimes US English it can also be an unreliable or lazy person. As a verb, to flake means 'to peel off and fall in flakes' or 'to break into little flakes.' It can also mean 'to cover with flakes' and, in this sense, is often used in a passive construction.


Example sentences
A few flakes of snow fell on the muddy street.
Don't give the job to Phil; he's a flake. He'll never turn up for work on time!
The abandoned house was in a bad state with paint flaking off the walls in all the rooms.
Gita flaked some almonds to sprinkle on top of the cake.
The old man's beard was flaked with snow.


Multi-word forms
flake out: fall asleep. Example: "Julie was exhausted after work and flaked out on the couch as soon as she got home." Flake out, or just flake, can also mean to cancel plans with someone or not do something you are supposed to do. Example: "Mark and I were supposed to get a drink last night, but he flaked and I ended up spending the evening by myself."
Additional information
In US English, flake is also slang for cocaine.
Other forms
flaker (noun), flaky (adjective)
Flake dates back to the second half of the 14th century. The noun comes from Middle English and is akin to the Old English word flac and the Old Norse word flakka, meaning 'to rove or wander, ' and the Middle Dutch word vlacken, meaning 'to flutter.' The sense of an unreliable person is a back-formation from the adjective flaky. The verb appears in late Middle English, meaning 'to fall in flakes' and is derivative of the noun.
Flake in other languages
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