flout » flaunt

Classification: English – not an eggcorn

Spotted in the wild:

  • “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.” (NYT, 11 Nov. 1995, cited by Garner)

One of the two word substitutions that are most frequently suggested to me as eggcorns. (The other is “militate” >> “mitigate”.) Discussed in virtually every usage dictionary, including recent ones: Garner’s Modern American Usage, Cochrane’s Between You and I, Brians’s Common Errors in English Usage, Fiske’s The Dictionary of Disagreeable English. (Some of these complain that the “wrong” sense of “flaunt” has made it into dictionaries.) Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage tracks complaints about it back to 1932 and gives examples going back to 1918. The words are similar in both phonology and meaning, so the substitution is understandable. The usual direction of substitution has the somewhat more frequent and less specialized word, “flaunt”, replacing the somewhat less frequent and more specialized word, “flout”, but the reverse substitution is occasionally reported. I can’t see how either direction of substitution counts as any sort of reanalysis, though, so I’ve labeled this as “not an eggcorn”.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/04/05 |

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