Flout
Posted: 22 November 2017 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]
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A surprise. The possibility is that it’s simply a form of flute, ie to play on the flute, whence it came to mean to mock or deride, which I guess makes sense. If someone is pompously orating and you respond by tooting on your flute you’re clearly not taking them seriously. Here’s OED:

Etymology: First recorded in 16th cent.; possibly special use (preserved in some dialect) of floute , Middle English form of flute v. to play on the flute. Compare a similar development of sense in Dutch fluiten to play the flute, to mock, deride.

BTW I don’t know whether it’s just me but the flout/flaunt error seems to be everywhere these days and crops up in the most unlikely places (NYT for instance). Perhaps it’s owing to the custom now of using online contributors for some pieces rather than established journalists but whatever the reason it annoys the hell out of me.

And for the sake of completeness here’s OED on flaunt, the origin of which is unknown.

Etymology: Of unknown origin.

The monosyllables of similar ending are (except perhaps gaunt) all from French; but no French word is known which could be the source. Possibly the word may be an onomatopoeia formed with a vague recollection of fly, flout and vaunt. Prof. Skeat compares modern Swedish dialect flankt loosely, flutteringly ( < flanka to flutter, waver), also modern German (Bavarian) flandern to flutter, flaunt; but the late appearance of the word in English makes it doubtful whether any connection exists.

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Posted: 22 November 2017 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Perhaps it’s owing to the custom now of using online contributors for some pieces rather than established journalists but whatever the reason it annoys the hell out of me.

It’s more likely the result of firing all the copy editors in order to maintain profit margins.

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Posted: 22 November 2017 06:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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That OED etymology is from no later than 1897 (120 years ago!), and I would recommend not paying much attention to such unrevised etymologies unless they’re the boring, obvious sort you probably wouldn’t post.  Having said that, the “flute” guess is apparently still the best that can be done, since AHD still repeats it.

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Posted: 22 November 2017 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I recall writing a green-ink (figurative, not literal) letter to National Public Radio back in my grad-school days (so no later than 1987) after hearing an All Things Considered commentator use “flaunt” for “flout”, and that had already been a regular complaint of peevers.  Aldi may merely be suffering from the recency illusion, although perhaps it is getting more common.  It’s common enough that some dictionaries list the “wrong” meanings, which irks me, but what can be done?

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Posted: 22 November 2017 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Flounder/founder are also similarly used interrelatedly, even though they’re almost synonymous. I always get them confused.

Flounder, meaning: “To act or function in a confused or directionless manner; struggle: “Some ... floundered professionally, never quite deciding what they wanted to do” (Steve Olson). See Usage Note at founder1” Etymonline submits"… of uncertain origin, perhaps from an alteration of founder (n.), influenced by Dutch flodderen “to flop about,” or native verbs in fl- expressing clumsy motion. Figurative use is from 1680s. Related: Floundered; floundering. As a noun, “act of struggling,” by 1867.

The American Heritage

Founder: ”

1. To sink below the surface of the water: The ship struck a reef and foundered.
2. To cave in; sink: The platform swayed and then foundered.
3. To fail utterly; collapse: a marriage that soon foundered.
4. To stumble, especially to stumble and go lame. Used of horses.

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