Definition of flout
: to treat with contemptuous disregard : scorn <flouting the rules>
: to indulge in scornful behavior <Ah, you may flout and turn up your faces — Robert Browning>
flaunt vs. flout
Although the “treat contemptuously” sense of flaunt undoubtedly arose from confusion with flout, the contexts in which it appears cannot be called substandard <meting out punishment to the occasional mavericks who operate rigged games, tolerate rowdyism, or otherwise flaunt the law — Oscar Lewis> <observed with horror the flaunting of their authority in the suburbs, where men … put up buildings that had no place at all in a Christian commonwealth — Marchette Chute> <in our profession … very rarely do we publicly chastise a colleague who has flaunted our most basic principles — R. T. Blackburn, AAUP Bull.>. If you use it, however, you should be aware that many people will consider it a mistake. Use of flout in the sense of “flaunt, parade” is found occasionally <“The proper pronunciation,” the blonde said, flouting her refined upbringing, “is pree feeks” — Mike Royko>.
Examples of flout in a sentence
Despite repeated warnings, they have continued to flout the law.
<an able-bodied motorist openly flouting the law and parking in a space reserved for the disabled>
Did You Know?
Watch out when using "flaunt" and "flout." Critics have been complaining about the confusion of these two words since the early 1900s. Flaunt means "to display ostentatiously," and most usage commentators consider it an error to use "flaunt" with the meaning "to treat with contemptuous disregard" (even though some admit to doing it themselves). Many educated writers have used "flaunt" in the "flout" sense for years, but the notoriety of the controversy is so great, and the belief that it's wrong to use "flaunt" for "flout" is so deep-seated, that we think you would do best to keep the two words distinct.
Origin and Etymology of flout
probably from Middle English flouten to play the flute, from floute flute
First Known Use: 1551
Synonym Discussion of flout
Definition of flout
FLOUT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of flout for English Language Learners
: to break or ignore (a law, rule, etc.) without hiding what you are doing or showing fear or shame
FLOUT Defined for Kids
Definition of flout for Students
: to ignore in an open and disrespectful way <The children flouted the rules.>
Seen and Heard
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