• flaunt •
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. (Transitive) To show off, to arrogantly display or exhibit. 2. (Intransitive) To wave grandly, to billow, as colored banners flaunting in the wind.
Notes: Today's word causes problems because it is often confused with flout "to contemptuously disregard". In fact, these two, like founder and flounder, are among the 250 Often Confused Words now available in Miss Spelling's Spelling Center. We flaunt our wealth; we flout the law (well, some do).
In Play: Flaunt is the word people who first started saying "show off" couldn't think of: "I hate talking to Dewey Trite, because he always flaunts his perfect command of grammar!" Dewey says "flaunt" instead of "show off" or, worse, "throw (something) in your face". He speaks more concisely, too. Maybe this will help keeping the meanings straight: "When Liz Booker flouts the traffic laws in town, she is also flaunting her connections at city hall."
Word History: No one has any convincing idea of the origin of today's Good Word so, rather than dwell on the doubtful ones, let's take a look at the history of flout. We know little more about this word; however, its similarity to the word for a flute player, flautist, suggests a relation. But what semantic relation could possibly stand between flute and flout, you might ask. Interestingly, the verb meaning "to play a flute" in Dutch, fluiten, also means to mock or deride by whistling or hissing. Since English borrowed quite a few words from Dutch, could we have borrowed this metaphorical usage? No one thus far has shown the connection. (We will not flout our duty, but thank Perry Dror for helping us flaunt today's Good Word about the world.)
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