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    A flat gift

    The excerpt below is taken from "The Dogs of War" (a book by Frederick Forsyth).

    "...The vital document in an arms deal is called the end user certificate. This certifies that the weapons purchase is being made by, or on behalf of, the End User, who almost without exception in the Western world has to be a sovereign government. Only in the case of a flat gift by a secret service organisation to an irregular army or of a pure black market deal does the question of an end user certificate not apply..."

    I believe that what is meant by "gift" in this context is arming without payment, but I am not sure why this gift is "flat". I have heard that "flat gift" is kind of an elegant phrasing for "money" or "cash" (literally referring to banknotes or anything of value that, figuratively speaking, can fit in a wallet); which surely is not the case here.
    Or maybe(wild guess!) this is just a highly coloured description of the act of giving, by means of which the author wanted to put somewhat emotive emphasis on it, trying to fire up the reader's imagination and making them think of "a flat box decorated with ribbons"?
    Last edited by Weaver67; 02-Sep-2014 at 12:48. Reason: misspellings

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    Re: A flat gift

    I imagine it is flat in the meaning out-and-out, absolute, with no strings attached, pure.... as in flat denial/refusal/contradiction - all quite common collocations for 'flat' in this sense.

    But in the context of arms dealing or international trade it may have a specialized meaning - you'd have to ask an unscrupulous lawyer!

    Last edited by BobK; 01-Sep-2014 at 20:28. Reason: typo fix

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    Re: A flat gift

    not a teacher

    I think this is "flat" in the sense of unconditional, unqualified.

    definition #3:

    So "a flat gift" is one that is clearly and unambiguously a gift.

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