A flautist or flutist is a musician who plays an instrument in the flute family. See List of flautists.

The choice of "flautist" (from the Italian flautista, from flauto, and adopted due to eighteenth century Italian influence) versus "flutist" is the source of dispute among players of the instrument. "Flutist" is the earlier term in the English language, dating from at least 1603 (the earliest quote cited by the Oxford English Dictionary), while "flautist" is not recorded before 1860, when it was used by Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Marble Faun. While the print version of the OED does not indicate any regional preference for either form, the online Compact OED characterizes "flutist" as an American usage.[1]

Richard Rockstro, in his three-volume treatise The Flute[2] written in England in 1890, uses "flute-player." He also uses "fluteist" and the less popular "flutomater".

The American player and writer Nancy Toff, in her The Flute Book, devotes more than a page to the subject, commenting that she is asked "Are you a flutist or a flautist?" on a weekly basis. She prefers "flutist": "Ascribe my insistence either to a modest lack of pretension or to etymological evidence; the result is the same." Toff, who is also an editor for Oxford University Press, describes in some detail the etymology of words for "flute," comparing OED, Fowler's Modern English Usage, Evans' Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage, and Copperud's American Usage and Style: The Consensus before arriving at her conclusion: "I play the flute, not the flaut; therefore I am a flutist not a flautist.[3]

The first edition of the OED lists fluter as dating from circa 1400 and Fowler's Modern English Usage[4] states that "there seems no good reason" why flautist should have prevailed over fluter or flutist. However, according to Webster's Dictionary of English Usage,[5] flautist is the preferred term in British English, and while both terms are used in American English flutist is "by far the more common choice."

Echoing the Toff quote above, James Galway summed up the way he feels about "flautist," saying, "I am a flute player not a flautist. I don't have a flaut and I've never flauted."[6]

In the Flautist or flutist? section in his book Proper Flute Playing (ISBN 0-7119-8465-4 p.56), Trevor Wye records the following conversation: "What do you do, young man?" "I'm a flautist", he replied. A long pause, then... "What exactly is it that you do with floors?" He then observes "Perhaps we should try flutist; it's simpler, self-explanatory and widely understood."


  1. ^ "flutist". Compact Oxford English Dictionary. http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/flutist?view=uk. Retrieved September 16, 2005. 
  2. ^ Richard Shepherd Rockstro, The Flute (Fritz Knuf - Buren, The Netherlands, 1986[1890])
  3. ^ Nancy Toff, The Flute Book (Scribners, 1985), "Flutist or Flautist?" pp. xiv-xv
  4. ^ Fowler's Modern English Usage (Oxford University Press, 1965) "flautist, fluter, flutist" p. 201
  5. ^ Webster's Dictionary of English Usage (Merriam-Webster Inc., 1989), "flautist, flutist" p. 452)
  6. ^ "On the first day of Christmas my true love asked of me..." Christmas quiz, Observer Magazine

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • flautist — FLAUTÍST, Ă, flautişti, ste, s.m. şi f. Persoană care cântă la flaut. [pr.: fla u ] – Flaut + suf. ist. cf. it. f l a u t i s t a. Trimis de RACAI, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DEX 98  flautíst s. m. (sil. fla u ) …   Dicționar Român

  • flautist — flautist, flutist Flutist is the older term (17c) for a player of the flute, and is still preferred in AmE. Flautist was adapted from the Italian word flautista in 1860, and is now the more usual form in BrE …   Modern English usage

  • Flautist — Flau tist, n. [It. flauto a flute See {Flute}.] A player on the flute; a flutist. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • flaùtist — m (flaùtistica, flaùtistkinja ž) reproduktivni umjetnik, muzičar koji svira flautu …   Veliki rječnik hrvatskoga jezika

  • flautist — (n.) 1860, from It. flautista, from flauto flute (from L.L. flauta; see FLUTE (Cf. flute)) + Greek derived suffix ista …   Etymology dictionary

  • flautist — flaùtist m DEFINICIJA reproduktivni umjetnik, muzičar koji svira flautu ETIMOLOGIJA vidi flauta …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • flautist — ► NOUN ▪ a flute player. ORIGIN Italian flautista, from flauto flute …   English terms dictionary

  • flautist — [flôt′ist, flout′ist] n. [It flautista < flauto, FLUTE] var. of FLUTIST …   English World dictionary

  • flautist — UK [ˈflɔːtɪst] / US [ˈflɔtɪst] noun [countable] Word forms flautist : singular flautist plural flautists music British someone who plays the flute. The American word is flutist …   English dictionary

  • flautist — noun One who plays the flute. The flautist Bezaly adds to the impressive list of flute concertos dedicated to her with the composer Pulkkis’s contribution to the genre. Syn: flutist …   Wiktionary

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