Grammatical Usage: Are We Concepting Yet?

"To con•cept (knspt)—con•cepted (knspt-ed)—con•cept•ing (knspt-ing) v. 1. A process whereby ideas are generated for the purpose of creatively solving a problem: 'The team set aside some time for concepting in order to flush out some plausible directions.'"

From a (possibly serious) online petition urging Merriam-Webster to add a verb form of "concept" to its dictionary, at http://verb4concept.blogspot.com

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  • Matthew Davis

    Ironically the sample quotation above contains an error. To “flesh out” an idea is to give it substance, as a sculptor adds clay flesh to a skeletal armature. To “flush out” a criminal is to drive him or her out into the open. The latter term is derived from bird-hunting, in which one flushes out a covey of quail. If you are trying to develop something further, use “flesh”; but if you are trying to reveal something hitherto concealed, use “flush.”