In Linguistics, the term flout has taken on a field-specific meaning.

Used in the fields of pragmatics and discourse analysis, flouting refers to one of the ways a person may use a maxim of conversation. When one flouts a maxim, one goes against the maxim in order to achieve a specific end (e.g. sarcasm, changing the topic.) What is crucial, and what separates flouting a maxim from violating it, is that the hearer must understand the end for which the maxim is being disobeyed. If no leap of understanding is made, it is a violation, not a flout.

Take, for example, one of Grice's maxims: the maxim of quality, which is essentially, "be honest." If we're supposed to meet at 4pm, and you show up at 4:45 saying, "Well, here I am, on time," and I reply, "As usual," both of us aware of the fact that you're always late, we're both flouting this maxim, presumably for the purpose of sarcasm. If, on the other hand, you were trying to convince me that you really were on time when you weren't, it would simply be a violation of the maxim. It would also be a violation if you were trying to make a joke about always being late but I thought you were trying to convince me you were on time and responded with something like, "No you're not, you're 45 minutes late!"

Flout (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Flouted; p. pr. & vb. n. Flouting.] [OD. fluyten to play the flute, to jeer, D. fluiten, fr. fluit, fr. French. See Flute.]

To mock or insult; to treat with contempt.

Phillida flouts me. Walton.

Three gaudy standarts lout the pale blue sky. Byron.


© Webster 1913.

Flout, v. i.

To practice mocking; to behave with contempt; to sneer; to fleer; -- often with at.

Fleer and gibe, and laugh and flout. Swift.


© Webster 1913.

Flout, n.

A mock; an insult.

Who put your beauty to this flout and scorn. Tennyson.


© Webster 1913.

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