a terrible flirt

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goophy

Senior Member
Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese
Hello again,

What does 'She is a terrible flirt' mean? Could it mean both as the following sentences?

a. She is such a nymphomaniac that she flirts around whenever she can.

b. She is so not good at flirting.

I was listening to The Magnetic Fields' My Sentimental Melody, there's a line as the above mentioned. I was wondering which one does the song refer to? From my understanding, I tend to choose b. However, I'm not sure. Please help. Thanks very much.

I'm a hopeless romantic
You're a terrible flirt
Cool and unfazed,
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    A terrible flirt almost always means #1 (without the "nymphomaniac"), and would only mean #2 if that meaning were made clear in the context. In this context, it is definitely #1.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with Copyright on all counts - especially the bit about "flirt" not meaning "nymphomaniac"!
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    What does 'She is a terrible flirt' mean? Could it mean...?

    b. She is so not good at flirting.
    In this instance, I'd choose B.

    She's not so good at flirting. Meaning, she doesn't do it well because she's cool and unfazed, instead of radiating sexual heat and horny attitude.

    Unless you give me more to convince me otherwise, goophy, a cool and unfazed flirt is a terribly unaccomplished flirt.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    AngelEyes, you astound me:eek:: it couldn't possibly mean that to me here. Indeed, for me, it's unlikely to mean that ever - unless the context made it crystal clear that was the only possible interpretation. It would take something as explicit as
    A: Loob is really hopeless at flirting
    B. Yes, you're right, she's a terrible flirt

    for me to understand "terrible flirt" as "really incompetent flirt".

    I was wondering if this was a BrE/AmE difference - but it can't be, since Copyright and I understand it the same way....
     
    Last edited:

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    AngelEyes, you astound me:eek:: it couldn't possibly mean that to me here. Indeed, for me, it's unlikely to mean that ever - unless the context made it crystal clear that was the only possible interpretation. It would take something as explicit as
    A: Loob is really hopeless at flirting
    B. Yes, you're right, she's a terrible flirt

    for me to understand "terrible flirt" as "really incompetent flirt".

    I was wondering if this was a BrE/AmE difference - but it can't be, since Copyright and I understand it the same way....
    Loobie,

    Let me reassess here. :cool:

    It was this that prompted my opinion:
    ...Cool and unfazed...

    When you flirt, do you send out vibes that are restricted of passion and seemingly without heat, and instead convey boredom and apathy?

    Man, when I flirt, I turn up the burner and cook it up in the pan!

    However, there is the other way of looking at it, I suppose. The blasé flirt, the "I'm so cool I can still keep my emotions in check while I tease you to distraction." method. If that's the case here, I'll change my answer and agree with you and Copyright.

    But I was reading it the other way. If she's cool and unfazed, then she's a horrible flirt who doesn't know how to do it right.
     

    goophy

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese
    Thank you very much, Copyright, Loob, and AngelEyes for your explanations.
    I think 'She is a terrible flirt' can be ambiguous, though I'm not a native speaker of English. The key is the word 'terrible'. To me, it can mean someone who is not so good at flirting; her flirting is so awkward, etc. Also, it can mean someone who flirts around whenever she's got a chance to. The reason I chose b is because of the following line, cool and unfazed, as AngelEyes also indicated. If she flirts around with anyone who she meets, and she keeps cool and unfazed, then it doesn't make sense. That's the reason I'd like to know the confirmation from native speakers of English.
    Much appreciated!

    I'll remember not to use 'nymphomaniac' to refer to 'flirt'. Thanks!

    goophy
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think you would know from the context which was which -- and if it were a critique of her flirting style, you might hear: She's terrible at flirting ... just to make it clear. I doubt if it would ever be ambiguous in speech ... and probably not in writing when we know more about the character's personality and the overall situation.
     
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