What’s the difference between blatant and flagrant?

Happy 2014! This week we discuss two adjectives, blatant and flagrant. Although many writers use these two words interchangeably, they are not synonyms.

The adjective “blatant” means something that is obvious or conspicuous, e.g., “The attorney who represented both the plaintiff and defendant had a blatant conflict of interest.” And we are all familiar with the term “blatant lie,” which means a lie that is obvious, such as, “Golly officer, I didn’t know that my tags expired six months ago!”

The adjective “flagrant” means something that is outrageous or shocking, e.g., “The attorney who withdrew funds from his client trust account committed a flagrant breach of trust.”

Of course, something that is flagrant can also be blatant (“Tyson’s attempt to bite off Holyfield’s ear was a blatantly flagrant breach of the rules of sportsmanship.”), but please … never ever use the phrase “blatantly obvious.” That is like saying something is “obviously obvious.” *Cringe*

That is all for now …

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