If you watch our trailer, at the end Scousebird (she of the popular Scouse Bird Problems site and social media presence) says, “brows on fleek, girl”. The term “on fleek” has a particular association with eyebrows, so we thought we’d reflect on its origins a little and share our findings.
Writing in 2014, Olivia Muenter in Bustle has a useful guide to one possible source, the social media site, Vine, in 2003. While she asserts that it can be used to describe anything, “from makeup photos to selfies to a bacon sandwich”, she most strongly associates it with eyebrows. This is because it originated in the Peaches Monroee Vine account and was popularised by Ariana Grande and others in song, and, subsequently, has taken off on social media sites, such as Instagram, to describe great brow styling.
Researchers for the Merriam-Webster dictionary dug deeper into the origins and spoke to Peaches, who asserts that she said “on flick” in the video, but the sound quality meant that it sounded like “fleek”, so a mishearing led to the creation of a new word. Merriam Webster includes a table showing how the use of “on fleek” has rocketed in the last few years to become word of the year in 2015. Neal Whitman describes the wider usage as “semantic broadening”, where a word can stretch to other meanings. Whitman unpicks the flick/fleek connection and explains how “on flick” can be used to label a particular make-up technique, specifically the feline flick.
So, we would like to join the Merriam-Webster team in saying, “cheers to Peaches Monroee for introducing a term that was up to the task of identifying eyebrows done right”.
For those who like their definitions sung, check this out.