To Put It Bluntly . . .
Adam Rubock asks for a discussion of
the difference between saying something bluntly, and blatantly saying something.
The word blunt came into the language around 1200 with the meaning “dull, obtuse.” At that time a “blunt person” would have been a stupid person.
In the 1580s blunt took on the meaning “abrupt of speech or manner.” This is closer to the way we use the word now.
The third definition of blunt given by the OED is “Rudely; without ceremony or delicacy; abruptly, curtly.”
When we say that so-and-so is “blunt,” we mean that the person puts thoughts into words without regard to the sensibilities of listeners or readers.
In speaking of an object, such as a “blunt sword” or a “blunt instrument,” the sense is still “dull” or “not sharp.”
The OED gives these definitions of blatant:
Of persons or their words: Noisy; offensively or vulgarly clamorous; bellowing.
Clamorous, making itself heard.
In recent usage; obtrusive to the eye (rather than to the ear as in orig. senses); glaringly or defiantly conspicuous; palpably prominent or obvious.
According the Etymology Online Dictionary, the word blatant was coined by Sir Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queen:
to describe a thousand-tongued monster representing slander; probably suggested by L. blatire “to babble.”
In the 1650s blatant came to mean “noisy in an offensive and vulgar way.” The current sense of “obvious, glaringly conspicuous” is from 1889.
Both words are popular on the web.
Blatant seems to be associated with the act of lying in particular. A search for “blatant lie” gets 136,000 hits. “Blatant liar” gets 83,400 hits.
The cliche “to put it bluntly” gets 4,860,000 hits.
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