The word flaw ("imperfection") has contradictory roots. It's the first part which was most confusing: it had a myriad of meanings proposed by all my sources, including a "spark", a "piece of snow", and a "splinter". This is extraordinarily confusing to me at least because I can't figure out how all these fit together. Supposedly, all are imperfect somehow: a single "flake" of snow is out of place by itself, a "spark" is an inconvenience and an annoyance, and a "splinter" is obviously bothersome and detracts from the perfect smooth surface of wood. How these transitioned to become each other is also very strange. Anyway, somehow "splinter" became "slab" as we go further back to the Old Norse word flaga. This traces back to the Proto-Germanic word flago, also meaning "slab", which goes to Proto-Indo-European as plak, meaning "flat", since a slab is flat.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd