1560s, "to display oneself in flashy clothes," of unknown origin. Perhaps a variant of flout or vaunt. Perhaps from Scandinavian, where the nearest form seems to be Swedish dialectal flankt "loosely, flutteringly," from flakka "to waver" (related to flag (v.1)). It looks French, but it corresponds to no known French word. Transitive sense, "flourish (something), show off, make an ostentatious or brazen display of" is from 1827. Related: Flaunted; flaunting; Flauntingly.
1620s, "act or habit of flaunting," from flaunt (v.).