Professional Style

Flounder vs. Founder

June 2011
Spot the Error

As a result of the owner’s excessive drinking, the company floundered and closed its doors after only a year in business.

Have you ever seen a flounder? Not the one in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, but a real one. Flounders are some of the most bizarre fish I’ve ever seen. They seem to have eyes on the same side of their head … or face or whatever. Their strange appearance makes it easy for me to envision a flounder floundering (or clumsily moving or thrashing about) when plopped on a boat deck.

In the “drinking” sentence above, however, the company didn’t flop about like a fish out of water … it sank like the Titanic. It foundered. Founder means to fill with water and sink; to break down or to fail.

Need a mnemonic device to keep the two straight?

  • Flounder — flops about like a “flounder” out of water.
  • Founder — sinks like a damaged ship, which can be “found” at the bottom of the ocean.

Check out more writing tips below…

 

Search Tips by Topic

Professional Style Monthly Subscription

Sign up to get Professional Style delivered straight to your inbox every month. It’s FREE, and you can’t beat FREE!

Don’t worry ... we keep your information safe from those pesky spammers.