I found the following sentence here:

Consulting experts, whether in the flesh or through their published work, is a normal and expected part of doing research.

The part I am having a problem with is whether in the flesh. I think it means whether in person(?).

Is that good usage? I mean can I use it in spoken English? Will I sound ridiculous if I do so?

closed as general reference by MetaEd, JLG, Andrew Leach, aedia λ, choster Jun 5 '13 at 17:38

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


I would agree that it is a little strange to see in the flesh used in the context you provide. As you suggest, in person might be more appropriate. Another alternative would be whether directly or indirectly.

Having said that, you can certainly use the phrase in the flesh in spoken English. In my experience as an Australian English speaker it's often used in a slightly mocking way, e.g. as a schoolteacher to a wayward pupil:

Ah, well if it isn't young Jenkins, in the flesh!

  • 2
    Yes - the OP has a complicating factor that the examples MετάEd links to don't. The sentence 'balances' two prepositional phrases ('in the flesh', 'through their published work') where the prepositions differ in the degree of idiomaticity. It's probably not ungrammatical, but I feel it jars a little. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 5 '13 at 9:07

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