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Dr Klaus Bung
68 Brantfell Road
Blackburn BB1-8DL

© 2010 Klaus Bung

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Klaus Bung:
Not exactly flavour of the month

"Not exactly flavour of the month" is an understatement and a metaphor. It was originally used for varieties of ice cream or other foods. Now it is also applied to people who have made themselves unpopular because of mistakes or foolishness. It could be applied to politicians who have upset other politicians, or the voters, employees who have upset their bosses, companies which have upset their customers by a bad product, or children who have upset their parents, etc. Read more below.

2010-08-25: Not exactly flavour of the month

Another popular expression I heard on the radio a few days ago was "Now he is not exactly flavour of the month". I have already forgotten the story, but it might have been about a politician or an employee who got himself into trouble, e.g. by saying something he should not have said and thereby upsetting his superiors or his colleagues.

This is an understatement with a metaphor built in.

The metaphor is in the reference to the expression "Flavour of the month" used by ice cream parlours. Each month they single out one particular flavour (e.g. strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, etc) and promote it heavily. The message is "This flavour is fantastic. Try it.".

Therefore if I say of a person that he is "NOT flavour of the month", i.e. mean that he is not fantastic, but on the contrary that he is a disgrace, that people loathe him, hate him, abuse him, tell him off, call him names, etc.

The British love of understatement is wonderful and, for me, terribly funny. Foreigners are often amazed by it and do not understand it. I will present more examples on this page, but not as many as possible, because that would be a full-time job, since I hear dozens of them every day.

You never say "He IS flavour of the month". That would be a metaphor, but it would not be an understatement. So the word "not" is essential in this expression, like in many understatements.

The word "exactly" is also essential in this expression. You do NOT say: "He is not flavour of the month". You have to say: "He is NOT EXACTLY flavour of the month."

Examples from the web:

An ice cream manufacturer writes: "I made it my Flavour of the Month for December 2009 so I’m hoping to try many recipes, but for today, you’ll have to settle for the Gamberoni All’Acqua Pazza (Shrimp in Crazy Water). I apologize for the quality of the photo. I was basically drooling as I put the shrimp in the dish and couldn’t wait to dig in so my patience for snapping a photo was limited to say the least."

A banana recipe is described as "Flavour of the month". This is close to the ice cream example with which I started.

From Urban Dictionary : This says, correctly, that "flavour of the month" means "what is currently popular", not only about ice cream, but about a person who is popular, or a product, or even an expression, a new word, etc.

A meat trade magazine states that branding meat as halal is becoming popular. The headline is: "UK - Halal branding flavour of the month". The expression "flavour of the month" is not used literally (even though it refers to food, which does have flavour) but in a figurative sense.

Teachers tell you what to learn, IDYLL shows you how to learn it