flaw - flawless - flawful?

Moon Palace

Senior Member
French
Hello again,
I knew of the first two, but never thought the last one existed. And yet, I have come across it and here is an example. Has it recently been coined? None of the three dictionaries I have checked seems to know it (CED, Merriam W and Free Dictionary). :confused:
Does it make sense to you?
 
  • klcfay

    Member
    USA English
    I don't think it has recently been coined. I assume the article is trying to make a play on words. However, I don't know much about soccer (where I assume the pun is coming from), so I can't help you much more than that.

    My only other assumption is that perhaps it has become acceptable in British English. Although, I doubt this a possibility.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I wouldn't consider a sports report a reliable guide to English usage :)
    It's clear, of course, what flawful should mean, and it would be a particularly useful word in the right frivolous/flippant/acerbic context.
    For example (from the OED, which includes it without any qualifying comment):
    1893 Daily News 29 Mar. 5/2 Few persons have left flawless poems, but Vaughan's are particularly flawful.
    I wish I'd written that :p

    Sports writers are fond of dreadful puns, especially in headlines.
    That's no doubt why flawful has appeared in this context.
     

    Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    French
    Thanks Panj :).
    I wouldn't consider a sports report a reliable guide to English usage :)
    Although I would have dared think so about French, I would not regarding English.:D

    I wish I'd written that :p
    I was puzzled :confused: so I searched and found this
    Fresh fields and woods! the Earth's fair face,
    God's foot-stool, and man's dwelling-place.
    I ask not why the first Believer
    Did love to be a country liver?
    And then I understood. :D

    Sports writers are fond of dreadful puns, especially in headlines.
    That's no doubt why flawful has appeared in this context.
    Then they have a common point with Vaughan? :p
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Just because no one has really spelled it out and some non-native speakers might miss it: Flawed + Awful = Flawful.

    A nearly perfect headline in my opinion.

    I was surprised to see "Flawy" in Webster's 3rd International.

    I've never seen it in print or heard it spoken. The example they gave is:

    A flawy lot of pottery
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Just because no one has really spelled it out and some non-native speakers might miss it: Flawed + Awful = Flawful.[...]
    Flawful began life meaning full of flaws, and may still be used with that meaning. It is a charming accident that it rhymes with awful.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    At the risk of sounding unkind, it is perhaps stretching mortal imaginations too far to presume that this is a deliberate pun here.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    At the risk of sounding unkind, it is perhaps stretching mortal imaginations too far to presume that this is a deliberate pun here.
    It's dreadfully judgemental of me, but I choose to believe that the 1893 example quoted earlier was entirely tongue in cheek; the Manchester United example is more foot in mouth.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Flawful began life meaning full of flaws, and may still be used with that meaning. It is a charming accident that it rhymes with awful.
    I accept that your explanation is correct. I cannot accept the notion that a modern newspaper in the sports section would use an obscure word like this absent the meaning I suggested.

    In the USA sports sections use these sorts of double meanings all the time.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I wouldn't consider a sports report a reliable guide to English usage :)
    ... particularly not one written by someone whose first language is not English (and who, in the rest of his blog, shows not the least sign of being possessed of a sense of humour), as would appear to be the case with this blog-writer*. The question remains: Is the lexical blunder entirely of his own making, or did he lift it wholesale from an actual 'professionally written' sports report?

    *All power to his elbow.
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Surely flawful as a portmanteau word combining full of flaws and awful is one of the rather less awful examples of the endemic habit sports journalists have of playing with English words?
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Would flawful necessarily mean full of flaws.?
    Just as I understand meaningful as "having meaning" and not as "full of meaning". I would oppose...
    flawless = without any flaws
    flawful = not without flaws = having flaws.

    Am I wrong?
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Does it make sense to you?
    Would flawful necessarily mean full of flaws.?
    Yes, it makes sense, Moon, though it's not an easy word to 'compute':

    The awful element of it (if it's being used as a deliberate pun) is so strong that the flaw part gets somewhat lost/overlooked: only after a microsecond's reflexion does the brain go "Oh yeah, awful + flawed". If you think about it too long, you start thinking "Well, if it's awful, it's pretty obvious that it's going to contain flaws ~ so why bother with the flaw element at all?"

    LV: if it's being used 'innocently' as an antonym to flawless, I wouldn't necessarily take it to mean 'full of flaws': it could be 'containing some flaws', 'containing many flaws' OR 'full of flaws'. Probably.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    LV: if it's being used 'innocently' [...]
    Yes, that's how I meant it.

    The status of this word is not yet clear to me.
    From what I've read, I gather it's been used recurrently for quite a long time but it never made its way into any dictionary. Therefore, we can still consider it as a "coined" word.
    Can you people confirm?

    EDIT: What I mean is that the pun (with "awful") is probably the only reason why it was/is coined... most of the time.
     
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