Taut vs taunt

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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.


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)