Is it Flutist or Flautist?
It’s flutist. There, now you can stop reading and get on with more important things.
…and Now a Short Rant
The question as to what to call a flute player has raged on for decades. Nancy Toff gives the best answer in her book, The Flute Book: A Complete Guide for Students and Performers. Toff explains that the term flautist came about through Nathaniel Hawthorne’s misuse of the Italian term for flute, flauto, in his 1860 book The Marble Faun. The term flautist caught on among high-society types who wanted to sound knowledgeable. Flautist persists today, especially in England, even though there is no etymological or logical reason for it to exist. Googling “Flutist or Flautist” will produce an endless stream of articles proclaiming that either is correct. Thereby further perpetuating the mistaken terminology. Even word processors and text editors know flautist is not a correct term and underline it in red.
James Galway once said, “you don’t call a lutist a lautist, don’t call me a flautist”. Most flutist would feel the same way. So do the world and every flute player you know a favor – say flutist!