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Taut vs. Taunt

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2:54 min read
  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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People make a lot of mistakes while speaking or writing English. Sometimes they are spelling mistakes, sometimes mistakes of homophones and sometimes a wrong word is used instead of the right word if they are extremely alike. Taunt and taut are examples of such words but there meanings are very different from each other and thus these mistakes lead to change in complete context of the article.

Consider the examples below to figure out the meanings of two words.

The rope went taut after as the pole fell on it.

She had taunted him with going to another man.


The word taut originated from Middle English tought ‘distended’, perhaps originally a variant of tough. The word taunt originated in early 16th century: from French tant pour tant ‘like for like, tit for tat’, from tant ‘so much’, from Latin tantum, neuter of tantus . An early use of the verb was ‘exchange banter’.

Taut as adjective:

Taut is used as an adjective in English which means stretched or pulled tight; not slack.

The fabric stays taut without adhesive.

Taut also means (especially of muscles or nerves) tense; not relaxed.

My voice was taut with anger.

Taunt as noun:

Taunt is used as a noun in English language which means remark made in order to anger, wound, or provoke someone.

Pupils will play truant rather than face the taunts of classmates about their ragged clothes.

Taut vs. Taunt

Taunt as verb:

Taunt is also used as a verb which means to provoke or challenge (someone) with insulting remarks.

Pupils began taunting her about her weight.


If any outing can help change the former’s opinion though, it’s The Shallows, an unrelentingly taut thriller, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, that knows what its audience wants and never bites off more than it can chew. (The International Business Times)

“There are all sorts of foundations for marriage,” says a character in ­“Siracusa,” Delia Ephron’s taut, sun-baked novel of sexual and marital gamesmanship on the Ionian coast of Sicily. (The New York Times)

Despite the crowded Broad Auditorium pit, Bradley Moore led a surging performance that scaled both the moments of lyrical beauty and taut drama. (The South Florida Classical Review)

A spectator who ran into the middle of a street to taunt a bull as it ran past him during a festival didn’t realise there was a giant 62-stone one just behind him – which flipped him 10ft in the air. (The Daily Mail)

Republican Party leaders have mostly avoided repeating or endorsing the taunt that convention delegates have been making about Hillary Clinton: “Lock her up.” (The Huffington Post)

David John Partridge, now 38, taunted three-year-old David Mamo as “weak” as he lay dying from massive internal injuries caused by repeated kicks or punches in February 2006. (The Advertiser)

Taut or taunt:

Taut is an adjective which means pulled tight, tense and strained, controlled, either in a literal or a figurative sense. Related words are tautly, tautness. The verb form is tauten. Taut comes to us from the mid-thirteenth century tohte or Middle English toght, meaning stretched or pulled tight. A taunt is a remark made in order to mock or provoke someone. Taunting is teasing, but with  a slightly more malevolent intent. Taunt may also be used as a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are taunts, taunted, taunting, taunter, tauntingly. Taunt is derived from the Middle French word tanter, which means to provoke or tempt.


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