Difficult Words : Figurative, Fidelity, Finesse, Flagrant, Flout and Flaunt
Figurative (FIG yur uh tiv) adj: based on figures of speech, expressing something in terms usually used for something else, metaphorical
To say that the autumn hillside was a blaze of color is to use the word blaze in a figurative sense. The hillside wasn't really on fire, but the colors of the leaves made it appear (somewhat) as though it were.
When the Mayor said that the housing market had sprouted wings, he was speaking figuratively. The housing market hadn't really sprouted wings. It had merely grown so rapidly that it had almost seemed to fly.
A figurative meaning of a word is one that is not literal. A literal statement is one in which every word means exactly what it says. If the housing market had literally sprouted wings, genuine wings would somehow have popped out of it.
People very, very often confuse these words, using one when they really mean the other. Andy could literally eat money if he chewed up and swallowed a dollar bill. Andy's car eats money only figuratively, in the sense that it is very expensive to operate.
Finesse (fi NES) n: skillful maneuvering, subtlety, craftiness
The doctor sewed up the wound with finesse, making stitches so small one could scarcely see them.
The boxer moved with such finesse that his opponent never knew what hit him.
Flagrant (FLAY grunt) adj: glaringly bad, notorious, scandalous
A flagrant theft is stealing a car, for example, from the lot behind the police station. A flagrant spelling error is one that jumps right off the page. See the listing for blatant.
Flaunt (flawnt) v: to show off; to display ostentatiously
The brand-new millionaire annoyed all his friends by driving around his old neighborhood to flaunt his new Rolls-Royce.
Colleen flaunted her engagement ring, shoving it in the face of almost anyone who came near her.
This word is very often confused with flout.
Flout (flout) v: to disregard something out of disrespect
A driver flouts the traffic laws by driving through red lights and knocking down pedestrians.
To flaunt success is to make certain everyone knows that you are successful.
To flout success is to be contemptuous of success or to act as though it means nothing at all.