Flint (glossary term)
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The term is usually reserved for things that are indisputably errors, not those that can be easily fanwanked away.
The term comes from a continuity error involving Marcus Flint, who is mentioned as being a sixth year in Philosopher's Stone but still appears as a student in Prisoner of Azkaban, a year after he should have left school. When asked about Marcus Flint's appearance in Prisoner of Azkaban during a February 2000 interview, J.K. Rowling replied: "He had to do a year again! :-)". Most fans recognized Rowling's response as a tongue-in-cheek retcon to explain the error, which Rowling acknowledged when she answered the question again on her official site in 2004:
Why did Marcus Flint do an extra year at Hogwarts?
Either I made a mistake or he failed his exams and repeated a year. I think I prefer Marcus making the mistake.
The term "Flint" for errors and inconsistencies in the books was coined by Pippin on Harry Potter for GrownUps in January 2001. HPfGU later invented the backronym "Flint-Like Inconsistencies Nitpicked Triumphantly" in response to members writing the word in all-caps, and included the term on their "Mysteries and Inconsistencies" FAQ. The term was soon adopted by fans outside the group and used on sites such as the Harry Potter Lexicon. As it spread, different fans and communities have adopted different capitalisations of the word: "Flint", "flint", and "FLINT" are all common.
Examples of Use
Obviously, you need a good working knowledge of the books in order to write Harry Potter fanfic [...]. Of course, everyone - including JKR! - can have a Flint or two (Flints derive their name from Marcus Flint, who was a sixth year twice in early editions of the books) but we try to keep Flints to a minimum. However, if it's important to your story to have Luna and Harry in the same year, or to make Dean, not Neville, be the other person in the prophecy, by all means do so - just select Alternate Universe (AU) as one of your genres.--FictionAlley, Submission Requirements & Information, c. 2003
Is it a Flint? Is Dumbledore mistaken, or is it something else? If it were a Flint, Rowling would have made a correction as she did with the Marcus Flint error, where she mistakenly had him stay at Hogwarts for too many years.
I don’t think this is a Flint. I think Dumbledore’s statement is deliberate.--Susan Miller, "Turban Legend: A Different Perspective on P-p-poor P-p-professor Quirrell", 2007
While not its primary purpose, the Lexicon includes commentary and background information from outside knowledge on occasion. [...] The Lexicon also points to the very few "flints," or errors in the continuity of the story, that appear in the Harry Potter series.--Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. v. RDR Books, 2008
Other Notable Flints
- The Goblet of Fire "wand order error", acknowledged by Rowling and changed in future editions: see JKR's FAQ.
- Voldemort being the last remaining "ancestor" of Slytherin according to Dumbledore in Chamber of Secrets, made all the more confusing when JKR called it a "deliberate error" in an October 2000 chat interview. Changed to "descendent" in future editions.
- Dudley's PlayStation is mentioned at the start of Goblet of Fire, which takes places in mid-2004, but the Sony PlayStation wasn't released until December 2004 (see e.g. the Harry Potter Lexicon's Timeline Facts and Questions).
- Percy docks house points from Ron in Chamber of Secrets, but a scene in Order of Phoenix establishes that prefects are unable to dock points. Fans generally found JKR's FAQ response to be an inadequate explanation: see e.g. t0ra_chan's essay On JKR and making mistakes (Apr 2005).
- Have You Found A 'Flint'? 'Harry Potter' Editor On How Fans Shaped The Series, article by Jennifer Vineyard at MTV News, 22 September 2008
- HPfGU's Mysteries and Inconsistencies FAQ by Penny Linsenmayer, Cindy C., and Pippin (2004 or earlier, archived link)
- Book Discussion > Flints forum at FictionAlley Park
- Online chat transcript, Scholastic.com, 3 February 2000. Accessed 01 July 2017 via Accio! Quote.
- J.K.Rowling Official Site, Section: F.A.Q. — Why did Marcus Flint do an extra year at Hogwarts?. First archived by the Wayback Machine on 07 December 2004.
- Pippin at HPforGrownups, Message #8359 Re: The death before Harry's, 02 January 2001. (Message archives locked to members, but membership is open to anyone with a Yahoo! account.)
- Backronym invented by Tabouli at Pippin's prompting, Message #28718 Luke's spiel, FL.I.N.T.? & the neglected Ron at HPforGrownups, 04 November 2001.
- Harry Potter for GrownUps: Fantastic Posts & Where to Find Them, Mysteries and Inconsistencies FAQ by Penny Linsenmayer, Cindy C., and Pippin. Archived by the Wayback Machine 21 February 2004.
- From Phoenix Rising: Collected Papers on Harry Potter (p. 134), published 01 April 2008. Accessed via Google Books.
- ROBERT P. PATTERSON, JR., District Judge. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. v. RDR Books, 08 September 2008.