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ˈtȯnt How to pronounce taunt (audio)
taunted; taunting; taunts

transitive verb

: to reproach or challenge in a mocking or insulting manner : jeer at
taunter noun
tauntingly adverb


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: a sarcastic challenge or insult

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Taunt vs. Taut

Taunt and taut may easily be confused. The words are similar in spelling and pronunciation, though the resemblance does not extent to their syntax or meanings. Taut is an adjective that is most often used to refer to something that is pulled tight, like "a taut rope," or is bulging or filled to capacity, like "taut muscles." Taunt is a noun and a verb that refers to teasing or making fun of a person. That the two words sound similar creates confusion, and taunt, being the more common word, is sometimes substituted for taut. You can remember the difference between the two by remembering that tight and taut both lack the n of taunt.

Choose the Right Synonym for taunt

ridicule, deride, mock, taunt mean to make an object of laughter of.

ridicule implies a deliberate often malicious belittling.

consistently ridiculed everything she said

deride suggests contemptuous and often bitter ridicule.

derided their efforts to start their own business

mock implies scorn often ironically expressed as by mimicry or sham deference.

youngsters began to mock the helpless wino

taunt suggests jeeringly provoking insult or challenge.

hometown fans taunted the visiting team

Example Sentences

Verb The boys continually taunted each other.
Recent Examples on the Web
The catchphrase and the gesture of waving your hand in front of in your face were popularized by wrestler John Cena, who uses it to taunt opponents who aren’t fast enough to predict his moves. Sportsday Staff, Dallas News, 4 Apr. 2023 On several occasions during the tournament, Clark was praised for appearing to taunt her opponents on the court. Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 3 Apr. 2023 The police mobilization comes after mounting criticism that law enforcement personnel have moved too slowly to end the protests, permitting protesters to taunt local residents for wearing masks, honk their horns in quiet residential neighborhoods and undermine local businesses. New York Times, 18 Feb. 2022 First, the yahoos have to taunt the outsider. James Lileks, National Review, 17 Feb. 2022 In Aesop’s fable, the arrogant hare taunts the tortoise for getting nowhere. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, 29 Mar. 2023 When Pettus and Stout went to Allen’s house later that night to serve him citations related to the encounter, Allen followed the officers to their cars and taunted them, according to the summary. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Mar. 2023 Brook taunted the Mavericks’ bench during the third quarter and received his 18th technical foul of the season. Sportsday Staff, Dallas News, 21 Mar. 2023 The drone of muzak taunted him on speaker phone. Trisha Pasricha, STAT, 8 Mar. 2023
This was a not-so-subtle taunt of the Kings, who famously press a button after every win to light their trademark beam. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 May 2023 But some municipalities have passed their own restrictions, almost as a taunt, actively inviting lawsuits. Eric Boodman, STAT, 18 Apr. 2023 And then more like a taunt. Damon Young, Washington Post, 6 Sep. 2022 Reese added, referencing her taunt to Iowa's Caitlin Clark, which sparked a slew of online criticism toward the LSU star. Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 5 Apr. 2023 After weeks of deeply personal taunts from Dominik, the heat for this feud built to a fever pitch as fans yearned for Dominik to get his comeuppance. Alfred Konuwa, Forbes, 1 Apr. 2023 Succession is primarily a comedy, but the humor works because there are real stakes — emotional and societal — undergirding all petty taunts and misunderstandings. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 26 Mar. 2023 This is bad for Arizona fans, who will have to take prank phone calls from ASU fans and endure taunts from now until eternity. Greg Moore, The Arizona Republic, 16 Mar. 2023 An eminent scientist would soon seize the opportunity to turn Bryan’s quip into a taunt. Longreads, 24 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'taunt.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



perhaps from Middle French tenter to try, tempt — more at tempt

First Known Use


1539, in the meaning defined above


circa 1527, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of taunt was circa 1527

Dictionary Entries Near taunt

Cite this Entry

“Taunt.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taunt. Accessed 31 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to provoke or challenge in a mocking or insulting manner : jeer at
taunt noun
taunter noun

More from Merriam-Webster on taunt

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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