verb (used with object)

  1. to try to please by complimentary remarks or attention.
  2. to praise or compliment insincerely, effusively, or excessively: She flatters him by constantly praising his books.
  3. to represent favorably; gratify by falsification: The portrait flatters her.
  4. to show to advantage: a hairstyle that flatters the face.
  5. to play upon the vanity or susceptibilities of; cajole, wheedle, or beguile: They flattered him into contributing heavily to the foundation.
  6. to please or gratify by compliments or attentions: I was flattered by their invitation.
  7. to feel satisfaction with (oneself), especially with reference to an accomplishment, act, or occasion: He flattered himself that the dinner had gone well.
  8. to beguile with hope; encourage prematurely, falsely, etc.

verb (used without object)

  1. to use flattery.


  1. to praise insincerely, esp in order to win favour or reward
  2. to show to advantagethat dress flatters her
  3. (tr) to make to appear more attractive, etc, than in reality
  4. to play upon or gratify the vanity of (a person)it flatters her to be remembered
  5. (tr) to beguile with hope; encourage, esp falselythis success flattered him into believing himself a champion
  6. (tr) to congratulate or deceive (oneself)I flatter myself that I am the best


  1. a blacksmith’s tool, resembling a flat-faced hammer, that is placed on forged work and struck to smooth the surface of the forging
  2. a die with a narrow rectangular orifice for drawing flat sections

mid-14c., agent noun from flatter. Fem. form flatteress is attested from late 14c.-18c.


early 13c., from Old French flater “to flatter” (13c.), originally “stroke with the hand, caress,” from Frankish *flat “palm, flat of the hand” (see flat (adj.)). “[O]ne of many imitative verbs beginning with fl- and denoting unsteady or light, repeated movement” [Liberman]. Related: Flattered; flattering.

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