The words “flaunt” and “flout” are sufficiently similar to cause endless confusion.
We flaunt our assets when we show them off, especially with the goal of drawing attention and exciting envy.
We flout laws or rules when we disregard them, brazenly and blatantly.
If we’ve won a huge lottery jackpot, we might flaunt our new wealth by tooling around town in a snazzy new custom Jaguar.
If we use that same Jaguar to drive 110 miles per hour, we’re flouting the speed limit. That is, unless the speed limit actually is 110 mph or higher.
Of the two words, I suspect “flaunt” is more often misused via substitution. I often see references to people who “flaunt the law”. (Should be “flout”.) Rarely do I hear of people who “flout their riches”. (Should be “flaunt”.)
How might we remember the difference? Here’s my trick:
If I flaunt it, I’m making other people want it. But if I flout the law, I’m out. (As in “three srikes, you’re out!)
(This article is part of my series on words that are #worth1000pictures.)