or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Flouting Convention

The Onion is pretty hit-or-miss, and in my estimation, their best days are behind them, but they can still come up with a winner on a regular basis. A recent story entitled Kansas Outlaws Practice of Evolution is hilarious and very much to the point.

Here's a paragraph that grabbed my attention for all the wrong reasons:

Barn swallows that develop lighter, more streamlined builds to enable faster migration, for example, could live out the rest of their brief lives in prison," said Indiana University chemist and pro-intelligent-design author Robert Hellenbaum, who helped compose the language of the law. "And butterflies who mimic the wing patterns and colors of other butterflies for an adaptive advantage, well, their days of flaunting God's will are over."

"To flaunt" means "to brazenly exhibit". Its origin is unknown. "To flout" means "to express contempt towards": its origin is also unknown (although it might be related to "flute" somehow). The two words, as you can see, don't mean the same thing and are not interchangeable. Therefore, people who mix them up--who use "flaunt" as if it meant "flout", which it doesn't--look as if they don't know what they're talking about to people who know the difference.


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