In last night's GOP debate, candidate Mitt Romney implied that China tends to "flaunt the rules". Looking up "flaunt," it means to "show off."

So what did he mean?


1 Answer 1


He meant flout, but this is apparently a really common mistake (Google Ngram):

Google Books Ngram comparing usage of "flaunt the rules" and "flout the rules"

Flout: to treat with contemptuous disregard : scorn (flouting the rules) [Merriam-Webster]

  • 1
    +1. Flout is definitely the word. It is really unfortunate that such a mistake can be made at such a high-profile level.
    – Jimi Oke
    Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 23:11
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    Is this really that terrible a crime against English? Some of the connotations are in the ballpark. For instance, "flaunt" has the sense of doing something defiantly, etc. (A linked article in the comments on the question even indicates these might have been the same word at some point...) Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 23:32
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    I think you are being rather harsh Jimi. These guys (and gal) speak tens of thousands of words each day, goofs are inevitable, and, as gaffs go this is a tiny one. Verbal flubs are a bipartisan (or multi-partisan) affliction. Biden and Bush are both legendary for their flubbiness.
    – Fraser Orr
    Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 23:58
  • @Fraser and Joe: Sorry if I came across as harsh. Indeed, flaunt kind of makes sense. I mean, the error is not really a big deal, as it's something that's widely accepted. English is evolving constantly, and that includes the legitimization of common errors. No BD again. That's just life. Mine was just a very offhand comment. Take it as you will :)
    – Jimi Oke
    Commented Nov 11, 2011 at 2:27
  • I suppose they could be said to be flaunting their flouting of the rules !
    – mgb
    Commented Nov 11, 2011 at 6:10

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