Where does the phrase flag it come from, as in

Oh, flag it, it's not working, I'm going to bed.

closed as off-topic by kiamlaluno, choster, anongoodnurse, FumbleFingers, Avon Jul 30 '15 at 18:25

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  • 4
    I've never heard it used in that way. Flag it usually means -metaphorically - raise a warning flag to indicate there is something amiss – WS2 Jul 27 '15 at 11:15
  • 2
    I too have never heard it used that way. It looks like just a euphemism or minced oath. See english.stackexchange.com/questions/35156/… – Avon Jul 27 '15 at 11:21
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    Are you sure you're not hearing fug it, which itself it a mumbly-bowdlerization of fuck it? – Dan Bron Jul 27 '15 at 13:07
  • What is the tone? What is the context? Depending on whether the speaker is recommending a solution or making a complaint, either dockeryZ's or Malvolio's answers could be correct, but you have not provided enough information to make a determination. – choster Jul 27 '15 at 22:53
  • Apparently there are a million euphemisms in the naked city. – Sven Yargs Jul 28 '15 at 21:49

It's nothing more than a polite way to say

Damn it!

or even

F*ck it!


It is not a common euphemism as dockery suggests (at least, not on the United Kingdom, where I have never heard or read it used in that way). It may have been derived from "flag it" as an instruction to send a semaphore message between ships (using flags, before radio came into use). Hence it came to mean make someone aware of something. Contemporary use is to notify something, as in flagging an email by marking it in some way for attention.

  • I would tend to go with the minced oath theory. I've never heard "flag it", but I've heard stuff like "conflag it" (which appears to be an oddly "minced" version of "confound it"). – Hot Licks Jul 27 '15 at 13:30

When you are searching for any small item cannot or should not be moved, it is common to mark it in some way.

Consider a document that has several places that require signatures. The person preparing the document will put adhesive markers next to each blank. This practice is so common that you can purchase markers pre-printed with words "Sign Here".

Such markers are almost universally called "flags", presumably from the small brightly colored flags used as markers in golf, surveying, and construction.

The verb for applying a flag is "to flag".

Many data systems (including virtually every email system) have a feature for either drawing an administrator's attention or your own (in the future) to a particular data-item, and that feature is by obvious skeumorphism called and even depicted as, a flag.

Marking an problem for later work, even only mentally, can be called flagging by further extension.

No connection with flag in the sense of "lessen" (from Old Norse flaka, "to flicker") and not a minced oath for "fuck it".

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