Correction of the Week

Corrections in publications usually focus on matters of content (someone’s age, the correct title of a publication, the date of an event), on typos, or on unintended ambiguities, but occasionally usage crops up, as in this Correction of the Week from the New Yorker of September 24th (p. 95):

From the San Jose Mercury News.

An item in the July 12 News of the World column about police confronting beachgoers incorrecty reported what the beachgoers were doing. They were not flouting their breasts, they were flaunting them.

From the Eggcorn Database:

One of the two word substitutions that are most frequently suggested to me as eggcorns. (The other is “militate” >> “mitigate”.) Discussed in virtually every usage dictionary, including recent ones: Garner’s Modern American Usage, Cochrane’s Between You and I, Brians’s Common Errors in English Usage, Fiske’s The Dictionary of Disagreeable English. (Some of these complain that the “wrong” sense of “flaunt” has made it into dictionaries.) Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage tracks complaints about it back to 1932 and gives examples going back to 1918. The words are similar in both phonology and meaning, so the substitution is understandable. The usual direction of substitution has the somewhat more frequent and less specialized word, “flaunt”, replacing the somewhat less frequent and more specialized word, “flout”, but the reverse substitution is occasionally reported. I can’t see how either direction of substitution counts as any sort of reanalysis, though, so I’ve labeled this as “not an eggcorn”.


5 Responses to “Correction of the Week”

  1. Ann Burlingham Says:

    yes, but — how do i flaunt me breasts, too?

  2. Ann Burlingham Says:

    arr, still in pirate talk zone, me

  3. nbmandel Says:

    A pirate wench outfit would get you on the flaunt path, methinks.

  4. Chris Waigl Says:

    They could have been floating them.

  5. The Ways in Which We Mistake Our Words | News 47News 47 Says:

    […] words, though. We get to laugh at the mistakes. Take the recent example highlighted by ;Arnold Zwicky, the Correction of the Week ;from the September 24 issue of the ;New Yorker ;(p. 95): From the San […]

Leave a Reply