Angela’s ABCs flout and flaunt words sometimes confused

It seemed to me that flout and flaunt were sufficiently different for it to be difficult to confuse them. I thought their meanings were clear. If you don’t comply with a rule, you are flouting it. If you make a big display of your success, you are flaunting it

Flouting

It seems that I was wrong. I was tut-tutting to myself the other day because I noticed that one of The Guardian’s coronavirus update writers had used flaunt to mean flout. Nobody seemed particularly bothered. When I did some research, I realised this is because the use of flaunt to mean ‘to treat contemptuously’ has taken off and it has proved difficult to convince people that this usage is wrong, even though style guides have been reprimanding people about it since the 1940s.

Flaunting

The Guardian’s style guide is clear:

flaunt or flout?

To flaunt is to make a display of something, as in flaunting wealth; to flout is to show disregard for something, as in flouting the seatbelt law.

Most dictionaries however, include a reference to this recent use of flaunt because it has become so common and may, in time, through usage, become accepted. In the meantime, most copy editors, style guides and grammar tut-tutters will raise their eyebrows and make a correction.

Let us know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: