flaunt vs. flout

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flaunt vs. flout

Post by Archived Topic » Mon Sep 20, 2004 1:27 pm

In the novel The Life of Pi (2001) by Yann Martel, Pi compares animals in the wild to animals in zoos and says the following:

<"Animals in the wild are, in practice, free neither in space nor in time, nor in their personal relations. In theory—that is, as a simple physical possibility—an animal could pick up and go, FLAUNTING all social conventions and boundaries proper to its species.">

Ken G — April 15, 2005

(NOTE: I ran across the above use of 'flaunt' this evening as I was reading the novel 'Life of Pi' and recalled that we had discussed this topic a few years ago. I did a search and found it buried in a posting of another name from back in August of 2003 when we wandered off topic as we often tend to do, and am reposting it as a separate subject.)
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flaunt vs. flout

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 20, 2004 3:37 pm

Surely rules are FLOUTED, not FLAUNTED!

Simon Beck
London, UK

(from August 1, 2003)
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flaunt vs. flout

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 20, 2004 3:51 pm

Interesting point, Simon. Learn something new every day!

USAGE NOTE Flaunt as a transitive verb means “to exhibit ostentatiously”: She flaunted her wealth. To flout is “to show contempt for”: She flouted the proprieties. For some time now flaunt has been used in the sense “to show contempt for,” even by educated users of English. This usage is still widely seen as erroneous and is best avoided.
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The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Leif, WA, USA
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 20, 2004 4:05 pm

Leif and Simon, This is a question, which I had never given a moment’s thought before and there are definitely mixed opinions on what is ‘proper.’ After reading through what several dictionaries had to say, it is my opinion that using FLAUNT to mean to ‘show contempt’ and in fact as a synonym for FLOUT is controversial, but not incorrect. Even the OED is careful to say ‘often considered erroneous’ and not that ‘it IS erroneous.’ Our online M-W says that although the expression was born in error the contexts in which it now appears ‘cannot be called substandard.’

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To be on the safe side it appears that that the sensible thing to do so as not to offend the ear of people who have not been wronlgly raised on ‘flaunt’ for ‘flout’ for contempt (as I have) and not be considered by them an uneducated lout, it would probably be wise to go with ‘flout.’
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Here’s what some dictionaries had to say:

WWW.M-W.COM:

FLAUNT: 2) to treat contemptuously <’flaunted’ the rules -- Louis Untermeyer>

Usage: Although transitive sense 2 of ‘flaunt’ undoubtedly arose from confusion with ‘flout,’ the contexts in which it appears CANNOT BE CALLED SUBSTANDARD <"meting out punishment to the occasional mavericks who operate rigged games, tolerate rowdyism, or otherwise ‘FLAUNT’ the law" -- Oscar Lewis> <"observed with horror the ‘FLAUNTING’ of their authority in the suburbs, where men... put up buildings that had no place at all in a Christian commonwealth" -- Marchette Chute> <"in our profession . . . very rarely do we publicly chastise a colleague who has ‘FLAUNTED’ our most basic principles" -- R. T. Blackburn, ‘AAUP Bull.’>. IF YOU USE IT, HOWEVER, YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT MANY PEOPLE WILL CONSIDER IT A MISTAKE.
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Random House Unabridged Dictionary

FLAUNT: 4) to ignore or treat with disdain. <He was expelled for flaunting military regulations>

Usage: 4) The use of FLAUNT to mean “to ignore or treat with disdain” (“He flaunts community standards with his behavior”) 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. Considering the similarity in pronunciation of the two words, it is not surprising that FLAUNT has assumed the meanings of FLOUT and that this use has appeared in the speech and edited writing of even well-educated, literate persons. Nevertheless, many regard the senses of FLAUNT and FLOUT as entirely unrelated and concerned speakers and writers still continue to keep them separate.
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Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary

FLAUNT transitive verb: 2) to treat contemptuously : FLOUT <flaunt army regulations>

[[note: no further special usage explanation is given]]
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New Shorter OED

FLAUNT 3) verb transitive: flout (often considered to be erroneous) Early-20th century
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Ken G – August 3, 2003
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flaunt vs. flout

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 20, 2004 4:20 pm

Thank you for the education and the new discussion of flout vs. flaunt

john - new mexico
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Post by Archived Reply » Mon Sep 20, 2004 4:49 pm

Well, the answers are in. Based on them I'll continue to flaunt my flouting of these words -- or is it flout my flaunting! Damn my life was perfect until this topic came up!*G*

Simon, are you spoofing us? Are you Leslie Neilsen posing as a Brit?

Leif, WA, USA
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Apr 16, 2005 7:07 am

Not to beat a dead horse, but mainly to get this old topic to bubble to the top and not waste a perfectly good post, I will add the following:

It’s interesting to look back 20 years and see what the prevailing view on this topic was then. To do that a wonderful book to consult is Harper’s Dictionary of Common Usage by William and Mary Morris. In it a panel of 165 distinguished panelists of the day including “writers, editors, and public speakers chosen for their demonstrated ability to use the language carefully and effectively” are polled and discuss various sticky usage questions:

"FLAUNT / FLOUT: There are few words more frequently misused, each for the other, than ‘flaunt’ and ‘flout.’ Our files abound in examples sent in by readers, editors, and even publishers. In our own immediate experience we were chilled to hear a now happily departed Superintendent of Public Schools in New York City, speaking of a threatened school boycott, say,
'I hope no parent, by their example, will teach their children to FLAUNT the law.'
This from a Ph.D. who later went on to the presidency of one of the city colleges! [[Well, I’m in good company since I too had it wrong up until the above August 2003 posting]] The distinction is really very simple. . . ."

"Usage Panel Question: In recent years one Supreme Court Justice used ‘flaunt’ in a written opinion when he meant ‘flout’ [[I’m was even in better company]] and, on the same day, another justice used ‘flout’ when he meant flaunt [[fewer people tend to make this error and, I for one didn’t]] (Note: Neither Justice was, of course, panelist William O. Douglas [[then associate justice of the United States Supreme Court]]. In your judgment is there a distinction between these two words worth preserving?

In writing: Yes: 97%. No: 3%

In casual speech Yes: 96 %. No: 4%"
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In a bit more recent view by Burchfield in his New Fowler’s Modern English Usage (2000) there is no question that he views ‘flaunt’ used for ‘flout’ as still wrong:

FLAUNT, FLOUT: “. . . . ‘flaunt’ is often wrongly used for ‘flout.’ The wrong use, which has been particularly prevalent since the 1940s, has not been traced before the 20th century and was not mentioned by Fowler (1926).” The OED’s earliest example of its incorrect usage is the following:
<1923 “He achieved strong local popularity, a priceless asset to a man who lives by FLAUNTING the law.”—“The Owl’s House” by C. Garstin, xv. page 161>
And for a modern American view on the subject that it is wrong but the rule of 'right' seems to be slipping away.

GARNER’S MODERN AMERICAN USAGE (2003):

FLAUNT; FLOUT: Confusion about these terms is so distressingly common that some dictionaries have thrown in the towel and now treat ‘flaunt’ as a synonym of ‘flout.’ ‘Flout means “to contravene or disregard; to treat with contempt.” ‘Flaunt’ means “to show off or parade (something) in an ostentatious manner<” but is often incorrectly used for ‘flout, perhaps because it is misunderstood as a telescoped version of ‘flout’ and taunt—e.g.
<1995 “In Washington, the White House issued a statement that deplored the Nigerian Government’s ‘FLAUNTING of even the most basic international norms and universal standards of human rights.’”—‘N.Y. Times, 11 November>
Ken G – April 15, 2005
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flaunt vs. flout

Post by Bobinwales » Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:06 pm

Can we have a quick check with the Brits in the Forum?

I'm not at all sure that there is any confusion in UK English, one flouts the law and flaunts wealth.
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flaunt vs. flout

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Apr 16, 2005 5:45 pm

Bob, I feel you are overlooking that wealthy flute-player James Galway who flauts his instrumental prowess.
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flaunt vs. flout

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Apr 16, 2005 7:19 pm

Hmm. And speaking of things musical, is it Die Floutermaus, Die Flauntermaus, or perhpas Die Flautermaus?

Ken – April 16, 2005
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flaunt vs. flout

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Apr 17, 2005 7:51 am

Good question! If the bat played a flute, it would feature in Die Flötistenmaus.
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flaunt vs. flout

Post by Phil White » Sun Apr 17, 2005 10:26 am

Bob,
To answer your question, I agree with you. It would never have occurred to me that there was any confusion.
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flaunt vs. flout

Post by dalehileman » Tue Apr 26, 2005 1:35 am

Doesn't the same kind of confusion arise between "regime" and "regimen"
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