General English


  • adjective eccentric, crazy, unstable and irresponsible. This Americanism was given wider currency when President Ronald Reagan referred to Colonel Gaddafi as ‘flaky’ in January 1986; the word had to be translated in the press for British and Australian readers. The original connotations of the word are obscure. Suggested derivations are from flake as a word for cocaine, or from ‘flaking’ or ‘crumbling’ stucco, stone, timber, etc. This second derivation, with overtones of disintegration and splitting or dividing, is more plausible.