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Four-flusher is an American idiom that first appeared around the turn of the twentieth century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of the term four-flusher, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The term four-flusher describes someone who is a phony, a fake, someone who blatantly and unsuccessfully attempts a bluff. A related term is four-flushing. The term comes from the game of poker and refers to a person who attempts to pass off an incomplete flush hand as a winning hand. In poker, a flush consists of a hand of five cards that are all of one suit, a four-flusher is someone who attempts to pass off a hand that consists of only four cards of a matching suit as a winning hand. It is interesting that this was a common enough occurrence to justify a term for such an action. It wasn’t long before this American term came to be used figuratively as an idiom. Note that four-flusher is properly rendered with a hyphen.


And into this beautifully conceived nuclear family unit comes Mortimer Mortimer (Tom Mason), a 1920s four-flusher cum masher whose boastful demeanor masks an open heart and who ultimately falls in love with each of the Fail girls, just as certainly as they fall, devastatingly and completely, for him. (Broadway World Magazine)

Injured and outraged, he hastily put the project out of its misery, canceling the film and practically tacking a bill to the front door of the Hollywood Saloon that read “WANTED: the yeller-bellied four-flusher who killed The Hateful Eight.” (Entertainment Weekly)

Investigators said the four-flusher purchased the chips online from a Chinese manufacturer and then put a counterfeit Borgata logo on them. (New York Daily News)