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« Blogging Note | Main | Blogaversaries »

April 13, 2008


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I've been MIA for the last few days because I've been subjected to an MIA -- a Massive Influenza Attack. Went to bed Wednesday with a tickle in my throat; woke up Thursday with a 102 degree fever; and am only just now re-emerging into some kind of feeble consciousness. Not much has been going on in my brain besides registering aches and pains, marveling at the usual flu hallucinations, and vowing that I'll do a better job of remembering to be grateful for good health once I in fact have my good health back.

Well, there has been one small question that has been on my brain. A usage thing. How do you use the word "flu"? When you're sick with it, do you say, "I have 'flu"? Or "I have the flu"?

I understand that "flu" is short for "influenza," and that there's no reason to place the word "the" in front of it. But saying, "Oh, it was a little case of 'flu" just doesn't suit my mouth. I feel affected and pretentious if I use the word "flu" without "the" ahead of it.

Where do you stand on this key question?

Back with a tad more vigor, I hope, in a day or two,


posted by Michael at April 13, 2008


Me too.
I just say, "I feel like shit; go away."

I've always been an "I have the flu" type. Don't know why; actually more commonly down here, we'd say "I've GOT the flu", or the more colorful "I WENT and GOT the flu." Strange, but just now, everything is hallucinatory, as you say.

Did you take the shot?
I did, and here I am anyhow.

Posted by: Flutist on April 13, 2008 6:23 PM

I guess that "the flu" is an instance of the same sort of usage as "the grippe", "the ague", "the trots", "the plague", etc. It also fits better with the (implied) sentence, "I've got the X that's been going around." Which, it sounds to me, you do. A bugger of a bug, apparently, what with several days spent hors de combat. Get better soon.

Posted by: PatrickH on April 13, 2008 7:11 PM

Join the club. I spent the entire month of March with it. If it's the one I had, you're not going to like it one damn bit. Blew my ski vacation plans right out of the water.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on April 13, 2008 9:58 PM

I have the [current strain of in] flu [enza that's been going around this year], it's bad.

Posted by: Deepak on April 14, 2008 1:12 AM

It's an idiom. Language has 'em. You're fine.

Why do we stand on line, not in line? You're in the line, not dancing on top of it, right? Why are inflammable things flammable? I mean, language isn't perfect.

Posted by: SFG on April 14, 2008 8:16 AM

I always say "the flu"---never "flu". I think people would think I was in the middle of the hallucinations if I said "I have flu." It's awful to "have flu." Glad you are better.

Posted by: annette on April 14, 2008 11:19 AM

Only Americans, and only Americans from certain parts of your country, talk about standing "on line". (The English speak of queueing.) I remember how floored I was the first time I heard it. Or "quarter of nine" for "quarter to nine".

Posted by: alias clio on April 14, 2008 8:29 PM

Yikes, having 'the flu' is no fun. Feel better :)

Posted by: MD on April 15, 2008 6:30 PM

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