Compliment vs. Flattery: What's the Difference?
Compliment refers to a genuine expression of praise or admiration, while flattery is often insincere praise given to gain favor or advantage. Compliments are generally heartfelt, whereas flattery may have ulterior motives.
Compliment and flattery, both nouns, are terms that pertain to the act of praising or admiring someone. However, there are nuanced differences that set them apart. A compliment is a polite expression that sincerely highlights someone's ability, achievement, or favorable quality. Flattery, on the other hand, may also involve praise but is often insincere and driven by an ulterior motive such as gaining favor or manipulating someone.
Grammatically speaking, both "compliment" and "flattery" function primarily as nouns but can also be used as verbs when describing the act of giving praise. To "compliment" someone means to offer genuine praise, while to "flatter" suggests the act may not be completely sincere. For example, you compliment someone's skills because you truly appreciate them; you flatter someone to get something in return.
Contextually, compliments are usually straightforward and given without expectation of anything in return. They are often spontaneous reactions to something admirable. Flattery, conversely, is often more calculated and may be employed strategically to gain some sort of benefit, whether it's favor, influence, or material gain.
Culturally, the perception of what constitutes a compliment or flattery can vary. In some cultures, straightforward compliments are highly valued, while in others, subtlety might be preferred. Similarly, flattery, even if a bit exaggerated, may be considered socially acceptable in some cultures, while being looked down upon in others as deceitful or manipulative.
No ulterior motive
May have ulterior motive
Mainly a noun, can be a verb
Mainly a noun, can be a verb
Spontaneous, no strings attached
Calculated, possibly strategic
Varies, but generally positive
Varies, may be seen as manipulative
Compliment and Flattery Definitions
A polite expression of admiration.
He received a compliment on his excellent presentation.
Inauthentic or exaggerated praise.
He saw through the flattery and declined the offer.
A gift or gesture as a token of appreciation.
She sent a bouquet as a compliment to the host.
Compliment given to gain favor.
Her flattery was aimed at getting a promotion.
His work received many compliments from the industry.
The candidate relied on flattery to win votes.
An expression of praise, admiration, or congratulation.
The act or practice of flattering.
A formal act of civility, courtesy, or respect.
Excessive or insincere praise.
Compliments Good wishes; regards
Extend my compliments to your parents. See Usage Note at complement.
(uncountable) Excessive praise or approval, which is often insincere and sometimes contrived to win favour.
To pay a compliment to.
(countable) An instance of excessive praise.
To show fondness, regard, or respect for by giving a gift or performing a favor.
The act or practice of flattering; the act of pleasing by artful commendation or compliments; adulation; false, insincere, or excessive praise.
Just praise is only a debt, but flattery is a present.
Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver.
An expression of praise, congratulation, or respect.
Pay someone a compliment
Excessive or insincere praise
(uncountable) Complimentary language; courtesy, flattery.
His flattery could make anyone do his bidding.
Misspelling of complement
Praise with deceitful intentions.
She was cautious of the flattery coming from a rival.
(ambitransitive) To pay a compliment (to someone); to express a favourable opinion (of someone).
Misspelling of complement
An expression, by word or act, of approbation, regard, confidence, civility, or admiration; a flattering speech or attention; a ceremonious greeting; as, to send one's compliments to a friend.
Tedious waste of time, to sit and hearSo many hollow compliments and lies.
Many a compliment politely penned.
To praise, flatter, or gratify, by expressions of approbation, respect, or congratulation; to make or pay a compliment to.
Monarchs should their inward soul disguise; . . . Should compliment their foes and shun their friends.
To pass compliments; to use conventional expressions of respect.
I make the interlocutors, upon occasion, compliment with one another.
A remark (or act) expressing praise and admiration
Say something to someone that expresses praise;
He complimented her on her last physics paper
Express respect or esteem for
Sincere praise or commendation.
Your compliment made my day better.
A flattering remark.
She blushed at the compliment on her appearance.
Can Flattery be a verb?
Yes, "to flatter" means to give praise, often insincerely, for personal gain.
How do Compliment and Flattery differ?
Compliments are generally sincere, while flattery often has ulterior motives.
What is Flattery?
Flattery is often insincere praise given to gain favor or advantage.
Is Compliment always positive?
Generally yes, as it aims to express admiration or approval.
Is Flattery always dishonest?
Not necessarily, but it often carries a connotation of insincerity.
How should one respond to Flattery?
Caution and skepticism are advised when responding to flattery.
What is a Compliment?
A compliment is a sincere expression of praise or admiration.
Can Compliment be a verb?
Yes, "to compliment" means to offer genuine praise.
Is Flattery always negative?
Not always, but it is often viewed skeptically due to potential ulterior motives.
Can Flattery ever be a form of Compliment?
While both involve praise, flattery can be a form of compliment if it is sincere, though this is rare.
Can Compliments be harmful?
Generally no, unless they are false and intended to deceive.
How can one spot insincere Flattery?
Look for exaggeration or praise that aims to gain something in return.
Are Compliments culturally universal?
While the act of complimenting exists universally, how it's expressed can vary by culture.
How should one respond to a Compliment?
A simple "thank you" is generally an appropriate response.
Is Flattery more prevalent in certain professions?
Yes, in professions that involve persuasion like sales or politics, flattery is more common.
Written bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited bySumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.