(Modern English flosh)


ME flosche is one of a number of synonymous by-forms occurring in place-names to denote a pool of water (cp. flash, flask, flush and plash); with their onomatopoeic qualities, they are usually explained as of imitative origin and the possibility of ideophonic variation complicates the etymologies, but external input has nonetheless been suggested in this case from two main sources: (1) OFr flache, AN flache ‘pool of standing water, tarn’ (ult. prob. < Lat flaccus ‘soft’, perhaps via < MDu vlacke: see further MED and OED3 s.v. plash (n.1)) is sometimes suggested in the case of both flash (OED n.1) and ME flosche (thus TGD, GDS, MED). (2) Some onomastic authorities however prefer an etymology for the fl- words which includes some Scandinavian input. A VAN n. *flask- referring to a body of water might (very tentatively) be posited as the source of, or one of the inputs which influenced the development of, the English form flask. So EPNE derives the form flask < ODan (presumably flask(e), the modern reflex of which (Dan flaske) is recorded in the sense ‘shallow creek’ (Nielsen) as well as ‘broad splinter, torn-off strip’), on the basis of its mainly N/NM occurrence, and accounts for the by-forms in /ʃ/ as variants by substitution of ME /ʃ/ for ON /sk/ (or by influence from Fr flache). However it could also be argued that any sound substitution operated the other way around (to produce /sk/ from earlier /ʃ/ developed as under (1) above).  

PGmc Ancestor

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(ONP )

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(2) Icel flaski, Norw flask, Dan flaske, Sw flask

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



MED’s few literary citations are all from N or E texts (N alliterative verse, and a1400 NVPsalter (Vsp D.7) and (1440) PParv.(Hrl 221)).  In onomastic usage the word (in its various forms) is mainly a N/NM element.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 1430


MED flashe (n.) , OED flosh (n.1) , HTOED , Dance flosche; (1) AND flache, FEW flaccus; (2) Mag. flaski, Nielsen flaske (I), Torp NnEO flask, EPNE flasshe; flask; flosshe, EDD flash (sb.1)