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Thursday, November 10, 2011

What about the “F” words?

We’re talking flounder and founder, flaunt and flout. Do you know their meanings?

As a noun, a flounder is a fish; as a verb, flounder means moving in a clumsy or confused way (much like that fish out of water). Flounder is often used as an alternative to founder, which is a verb meaning “to cave in, sink, collapse, stumble even”. Now compare them. If you’re floundering (confused) in your marriage, seek help from a counselor (there is hope); if you’re foundering (sinking) find a lawyer.

As for the verbs flaunt and flout, you have a choice, of sorts. Flaunt means “to show off” or (more linguistically) “to exhibit ostentatiously”. (The brainiac flaunted her brains.) You don't even have to add the adverb “shamelessly”; that is implied. Flout is what we anarchists do: “show contempt”. (The Grammar Anarchist flouts those British “rules”!) Because both words display chutzbuh, flaunt is often used to imply contempt.

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