Flaunt vs. flout the rules

Hello,
This is an excerpt from an interview to judge Judith Sheindlin:

The justice system means business and if you're going to try to make a fool of the justice system by not following the rules, by flaunting its orders, by not abiding by the laws of the place where you live, there is a consequence.


At first I thought I misheard the word flaunt since the first meaning (and and the only one I knew) of this verb is
to show or make obvious something you are proud of in order to get admiration
which doesn't make any sense in that context, whereas "to flout" would make sense.
However, after some research, I found this usage note in a dictionary:
Usage Note: Flaunt as a transitive verb means "to exhibit ostentatiously". To flout is "to show contempt for". 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.
Does this usage of "to flaunt" sound wrong to you?
Is it something typical of the AmE legal jargon?

Thank you
 
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  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I believe she meant to convey the meaning of flouting ... but the word she chose to convey it with was the wrong one: flaunting.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    The mistake is so frequent that when I correctly use "flout", people "correct me" and tell me to use "flaunt".

    < Topic drift removed. Cagey, moderator >

    (I'm a master-flouter but I rarely flaunt; < --- > .)
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Do you believe she actually meant to say "flouting" ?
    Well, it could be a simple slip of the tongue. But - putting on my "horrible person who always sees the worst in others" hat - I have to say I suspect she is one of the many people who believe "flaunt" means "flout".
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I have to say I suspect she is one of the many people who believe "flaunt" means "flout".

    Ms Loob is quite correct. It's one of those distressingly common errors that even students escaping journalism school commit until they've had their knuckles rapped often enough.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Thank you everybody :)

    This is so painful..I've always trusted her command of English! :mad:
    Yes, me too:).

    I would add, though, that I don't see anything in the context given that would suggest she wouldn't know the difference if she sat down and thought about it (although, equally, nothing that would suggest she would other than her usual good English).

    As others have said, this particular error is so common that it is one of those that people who are interested in such things actively know about. I'd draw a parallel to "to infer" and "to imply" - many people know the difference, but mixing one for the other is very common, kind of like a spoken spelling mistake - if that makes any sense at all!
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I agree about her English being good - she is very articulate, "adept at talking" as she herself puts it in the interview. Anybody who can use the word 'excoriated' has a good command of the language in my book

    All the more surprising that she confuses 'flaunt' and 'flout' but perhaps it was just one of those occasional mistakes anybody can make.

    :)

    Hermione

    Hermione
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Paul, I hate to think of you being downcast at the thought that the Judge might have feet of clay:(.

    Why not contact her (or her staff...) via her website and ask whether it was a slip of the tongue?
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    On the plus side, she didn't say "flaut" or "flount" (which I do hear from time to time). :)
    Yep, I've heard those two too, Myridon.

    (I should apologize to JJ ~ I'm always making so much noise yelling at the screen when her show's on that I can't hear what she's saying much of the time:D)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Paul, I hate to think of you being downcast at the thought that the Judge might have feet of clay:(.

    Why not contact her (or her staff...) via her website and ask whether it was a slip of the tongue?

    I second that suggestion. The first thing my journalism teachers taught us was to always go to the single best source for all your information. In this case Judge Judy herself would be the best source; every other source would simply supply suppositions.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Gentle moderatorial reminder ...
    We're meant to be talking about flaunt and flout, not about the general quality of Judge Judy's English or the entertainment value of her program(me) (which, we are meant to believe, is not scripted).
     

    c0stello

    Member
    India-Tamil & English
    Hi, I looked up this and it said something like 'showing off'. Then there were these example sentences some of which used like, 'flaunting the law'. I couldn't guess what that means.Thanks in advance.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    "Flaunting the law" is a common mistake ~ at least I regard it as a mistake.

    The second result I got in my Google search is Free Online Dictionary's comment on this:
    Usage: Flaunt is sometimes wrongly used where flout is meant: they must be prevented from flouting (not flaunting) the law ...
    Using flaunt for flout is so common that some dictionaries have decided to include this as a standard usage. Miriam-Webster is one. It includes this Usage note:
    Although transitive sense 2 of flaunt [= flout] undoubtedly arose from confusion with flout, the contexts in which it appears cannot be called substandard [omitted: examples of this taken from established writers.] If you use it, however, you should be aware that many people will consider it a mistake. ....
    As I said above, I am one of those people who consider it a mistake. People who think that use is standard are giving flaunt the same meaning as flout in those contexts. Look at the definition of flout to see what it means.
     

    c0stello

    Member
    India-Tamil & English
    Yeah,flout seems relevant with rules, law etc.By the way, I think you misunderstood.I meant 'google dictionary'.If you are not aware of it, try using it.Its a valuable resource I guess.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I hate to play devil's advocate, especially since I use flaunt (If you've got it, flaunt it) and flout (flout the law) as every other right-thinking person in this thread does, but I did accept the invitation to look it up and found this by Merriam-Webster:

    flaunt:

    intransitive verb
    1: to display or obtrude oneself to public notice <a great flaunting crowd — Charles Dickens>

    2: to wave or flutter showily <the flag flaunts in the breeze>

    transitive verb
    1: to display ostentatiously or impudently : parade <flaunting his superiority>

    2: to treat contemptuously <flaunted the rules — Louis Untermeyer>

    If you want to meet the source of that last quote, you can click his name for the Wiki article that begins: Louis Untermeyer (October 1, 1885 – December 18, 1977) was an American author, poet, anthologist, and editor.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Ok.Could you look up in google dictionary typing 'flaunt'? The first and second examples there use it like that.
    It's curious that all three of the examples given there use flaunt where I would use flout. What's more, the definitions given in the Google dictionary (and those quoted from elsewhere at the bottom of their entry) are for the normal use of flaunt - the examples do not illustrate the definitions given.

    Black mark for the Google dictionary.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's curious that all three of the examples given there use flaunt where I would use flout. What's more, the definitions given in the Google dictionary (and those quoted from elsewhere at the bottom of their entry) are for the normal use of flaunt - the examples do not illustrate the definitions given.

    Black mark for the Google dictionary.
    The footnote at the bottom of the dictionary page is significant
    The usage examples, images and web definitions on this page were selected automatically by a computer program.
    In other words, the usage examples in this dictionary are wholly unreliable since they are not checked by anybody who uses English as his or her native language.

    This is, clearly, a Google too far and I would be inclined to see it differently
    It's probably a valuablevalueless resource I guess.
    particularly if you want to know how to use "flaunt"
     
    2: to treat contemptuously <flaunted the rules — Louis Untermeyer>

    If you want to meet the source of that last quote, you can click his name for the Wiki article that begins: Louis Untermeyer (October 1, 1885 – December 18, 1977) was an American author, poet, anthologist, and editor.

    The fact that many people use "to flaunt" incorrectly is somehow acknowledged by many dictionaries, as underlined by the usage note I quoted in my first post
    Usage Note: Flaunt as a transitive verb means "to exhibit ostentatiously". To flout is "to show contempt for". 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.
    However that doesn't change the gist of what we've all said: "To flaunt" does not mean "to intentionally not obey a rule, law, or custom".
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Again yesterday on the TV melodrama "Bull", a series about courtroom "science". The judge revoked the bail of the defendant saying, "I will not tolerate someone who flaunts the rule of law."

    I don't find it to vexing when a person speaking extemporaneously makes the flaunt/flout error. But I do find it vexing when a person paid for their writing ability crafts a script where an educated ("judge") makes that error.

    Which only goes to prove that this is a common error that even the educated make.

    I Googled "script writers, Bull TV show".

    Interestingly the protagonist character, played by Michael Weatherly, is based on the early career of Dr. Phil of Oprah Winfrey show. Dr. Phil is listed as one of the script writers. I hope he did not quit his day job.:)
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Interestingly the protagonist character, played by Michael Weatherly, is based on the early career of Dr. Phil of Oprah Winfrey show. Dr. Phil is listed as one of the script writers. I hope he did not quit his day job.:)
    Well, on his day job (TV), he doesn't know the difference between lie and lay, either.:rolleyes:
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    What I find interesting is that people are not simply muddling the use of these two verbs. "Flaunt" is tending to usurp the place of "flout", but not vice-versa.

    I don't think I've heard this kind of mistake yet:

    - That's rather a revealing top you are wearing today, Mrs V.
    - Well, "If you've got it, flout it", as they (don't) say.

    This is an interesting article, from way back in 1997:
    If You Got It, Flaunt It

     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    What I find interesting is that people are not simply muddling the use of these two verbs. "Flaunt" is tending to usurp the place of "flout", but not vice-versa.

    I don't think I've heard this kind of mistake yet:

    - That's rather a revealing top you are wearing today, Mrs V.
    - Well, "If you've got it, flout it", as they (don't) say.

    This is an interesting article, from way back in 1997:
    If You Got It, Flaunt It

    It is dissimilar to the inflammable/flammable situation (where everybody is correct:))

    Flammable vs. Inflammable

    [...] both flammable and inflammable are correct, as they both mean "capable of being easily ignited and of burning quickly." [...]

    Things were fine until 1813, when a scholar translating a Latin text coined the English word flammable from the Latin flammare, and now we had a problem: two words that look like antonyms but are actually synonyms. There has been confusion between the two words ever since.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    What I find interesting is that people are not simply muddling the use of these two verbs. "Flaunt" is tending to usurp the place of "flout", but not vice-versa.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup:
    I wish I had had a glass of Scotch for every time I had to deal with an errant (so-called) reporter back in my editing days.o_O
     

    Oswinw011

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Why can't you believe?
    I thought people would pay more attention to the headline, but the editor seemed to let this conspicuous mistake slip away under their noses. Is this some mistake less perceivable to native speakers than to language learners? (I know some natives didn't differentiate between "you're" and "you are" as they sound the same)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Is this some mistake less perceivable to native speakers than to language learners?
    As has already been said several times in this thread, this misuse of "flaunt" in place of "flout" is common. With the ready availability of poorly written and poorly edited text online it is only likely to become more common. The eventual outcome will be that the word "flaunt" will gain an additional meaning in dictionaries, and the dictionary entry etymology will say "arose within English from a very common misuse in place of the word flout".
     
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