• 3-minute read
  • 18th July 2020

Word Choice: Flour vs. Flower

The words “flour” and “flower” sound identical. But using the wrong term can change the meaning of a sentence entirely. To make sure you can use them correctly in your writing, then, check out our tips below.

Flour (Ground Grain)

The noun “flour” refers to a substance used in cooking and baking (i.e., the main ingredient in bread, cakes and pastries):

The miller ground the grain into flour.

There are many types of flour, but all involve grinding something into a fine powder. Most come from cereal grains (e.g., wheat or rye), but you can also get flour made from other foodstuffs (e.g., almond or rice flour).

In cooking, “flour” can also be a verb meaning “lightly dust or coat something in flour,” such as a piece of meat or a working surface:

Lightly flour the board before you knead the dough.

Grain and flour (a 'before and after' of the milling process).
Grain and flour (a “before and after” of the milling process).
(Photo: congerdesign)

Flower (The Petals on a Plant)

“Flower” is most commonly a noun that refers to the reproductive or seed-bearing part of a plant (i.e., the bit with brightly colored petals):

Bees are attracted to the flowers of plants.

We can also use “flower” to refer to a plant that produces flowers:

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The rose is a popular garden flower.

As a verb, meanwhile, “flower” usually means “bloom” or “come into flower” (i.e., the process of a plant developing flowers):

Some species of orchids flower throughout the year.

More metaphorically, we can also apply this sense of “flower” to describe a person, group, or thing coming to full development or entering their prime:

His musical talent flowered when he was a teenager.

You might also come across the phrase “in the flower of youth,” which similarly draws on the idea of a plant blooming.

Arguably prettier than ground wheat.
Arguably prettier than ground wheat.
(Photo: annca)

Summary: Flour or Flower?

When you are trying to work out which spelling to use, remember:

  • Flour refers to a powder used in baking and cooking.
  • Flower is typically a noun that refers to the petals on a plant, but it can also be a verb meaning “bloom” or “come into full development.”

If you struggle to tell these words apart, keep in mind that “flour” always refers to food. For anything else, you can use the word “flower” with confidence. And if you’d like a little extra help ensuring your writing is error free, why not upload a document for proofreading?

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