usingtherightwords

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He “Flouts” Community Standards While He “Flaunts” His Wealth


I’ve not come across this before, but apparently people misuse flaunt. But since this is a full-service blog, I present this to you.

People know that flaunt means “to show off noticeably,” and they usually use it in the context of wealth. But according to dictionary.com, which is based on the 2012 Random House Dictionary,  “The use of flaunt to mean ‘to ignore or treat with disdain’ … is strongly objected to by many usage guides, which insist that only flout can properly express this meaning. From its earliest appearance in English in the 16th century, flaunt has had the meanings ‘to display oneself conspicuously, defiantly, or boldly’ in public and ‘to parade or display ostentatiously.’ These senses approach those of flout, which dates from about the same period: ‘to treat with disdain, scorn, or contempt; scoff at; mock.’ A sentence like Once secure in his new social position, he was able to flaunt his lower-class origins can thus be ambiguous in current English.

Bold and italics added by me. To sum up: Flout means “to scornfully ignore;” flaunt means “to show off.”

Perhaps there are people who correctly use flout but it sounds like flaunt. I can’t remember ever hearing flout, but there’s no reason I can’t learn along with you.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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May 31, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

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