Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Language police corner

To flout something is to disregard or ignore it with some degree of brazen ostentation. Flout is used almost exclusively to refer to 'the rules' or 'the laws' in any given context.

Beyond this primary meaning it also has connotations of blatancy, theatricality and general drama-queen carry-on, though I may be spinning this a little through its phonetic similarity to flounce. Which would make a good mnemonic when you are trying to remember the difference between flout and ...


... flaunt. To flaunt something is to show it off, wave it about and generally rub people's noses in it, so in a sense it's the opposite of flout which is to do with the act of ignoring. Again with the connotations of blatancy, theatricality and general drama-queen carry-on, however, which may be where at least some of the confusion arises.

You could, for example, flout the school rules by flaunting the sparkly thong under your little tiny skirt as you flounce about. If you do this, your flouncing will be a way of flaunting the fact that you are flouting the rules.

This is possible but not attractive. I wouldn't recommend it, especially if you are either a teacher or a boy. Or both.

13 comments:

Jonathan Shaw said...

Poetry is not a genre. Nor is non-fiction. Enervate does not mean the same as energise.

Ann O'Dyne said...

This flautist is flouting the rules by flouncing off to play my flute.

Nabakov said...

My particular language police grouch is how, why and when "I couldn't care less" morphed into "I could care less."

I care a lot about such things.

By the way, PavCat, do yourself a favour, etc.
http://www.amazon.com/Waking-Mystics-Sophe-Lux/dp/B000HA3UT6
http://www.myspace.com/sophelux
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrIpb1JyxSE

It's Todd Haynes' (yes, he did the clip above) sister demonstrating talent can even run in Canadian families.

Also "jayqqizl"? This blog has the best captchas.

Barry Leiba said...

«your flouncing will be a way of flaunting the fact that you are flouting the rules.»

A pity there wasn't a way to use "fools" instead of "rules" at the end, there, to continue the alliteration.

Along the lines of flout/flaunt, and if I may take the liberty: I'll give a plug for a new book by a friend of mine, which book is almost upon us. Things That Make Us [Sic], by Martha Brockenbrough.

I flout in your general direction, sons of a window dresser!
(No, wait, that's not quite it....)

Fyodor said...

"You could, for example, flout the school rules by flaunting the sparkly thong under your little tiny skirt as you flounce about."

Now THERE'S an image.

OK, I think I need to lie down now.

TimT said...

A flaunter once flaunted his flout
Before a flautist he wished to ask out.
Said the put-upon flauntee,
'Your flouncing is jaunty
But I fear you have put your flaunt out!'

rpg said...

"flout" now sounds very silly to me.

Thank you, PC.

Helen said...

I think I know what you're referring to Pav, and my fingers always itch to correct that particular commenter, but it's not worth touching off another 10 paragraphs of pomposity.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Jonathan: all of that. Might I add that Jane Austen is not 'Victorian', not all books are novels, university work done outside of the campus is not 'homework', and neither Heathcliff nor Virginia Woolf has an 'e' on the end of his/her name.

Nabs, don't get me started on 'Could care less.' My best mate, a Manhattan resident for six years, defends it tentatively on the grounds that the 'not' is elided and understood. I maintain that it is the first but not the second. Will check out the Youtube clips soonest. Fyodor, happy to be a source of entertainment or whatever it was. And Helen -- my goodness, Grandma, what sharp eyes you have!

Helen said...

Laurence Money (a poisonous gossip columnist in the AGE) reported today that some private school teacher had put a by line in the school newsletter, something about "Jane Austin". Ha!

Pen said...

At least we all know who is flaunting their ignorance.

lucy tartan said...

When people go on about 'a quote by Shakespeare' I want to ask them why they don't just cut out the middleman.

Mummy/Crit said...

"I could care less" is a modern americanism that always confuses me. I'll ask the bloke what he reckons when he's back from settling the baby. Again.

OK, he said he couldn't care less. (but he doesn't know why some people could care less)