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[flat-er] /ˈflæt ər/
verb (used with object)
to try to please by complimentary remarks or attention.
to praise or compliment insincerely, effusively, or excessively:
She flatters him by constantly praising his books.
to represent favorably; gratify by falsification:
The portrait flatters her.
to show to advantage:
a hairstyle that flatters the face.
to play upon the vanity or susceptibilities of; cajole, wheedle, or beguile:
They flattered him into contributing heavily to the foundation.
to please or gratify by compliments or attentions:
I was flattered by their invitation.
to feel satisfaction with (oneself), especially with reference to an accomplishment, act, or occasion:
He flattered himself that the dinner had gone well.
to beguile with hope; encourage prematurely, falsely, etc.
verb (used without object)
to use flattery.
Origin of flatter1
1175-1225; Middle English flat(t)eren to float, flutter, fawn upon, Old English floterian to float, flutter; for sense development, cf. flicker1, Old Norse flathra; reinforced by Old French flatter to flatter, literally, to stroke, caress (probably < Frankish *flat- flat1)
Related forms
flatterable, adjective
flatterer, noun
flatteringly, adverb
half-flattered, adjective
half-flattering, adjective
half-flatteringly, adverb
unflatterable, adjective
unflattered, adjective
unflattering, adjective
unflatteringly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for flatterer
Historical Examples
  • You are a flatterer, a base flatterer; such as always haunt the great!

    Countess Kate Charlotte M. Yonge
  • "And a flatterer like yourself, you mean," said his lordship.

    John Splendid Neil Munro
  • But the flatterer's whole aim and end is to cook up and season his joke or word or action, so as to produce pleasure.

  • Tzu-kung said, Poor, but no flatterer; rich, but not proud: how would that be?

  • The prince loved flattery dearly, though he had wit to despise the flatterer.

    Sarchedon G. J. (George John) Whyte-Melville
  • Marjorie was downright in manner, plain in face, no flatterer.

    The Children of Wilton Chase Mrs. L. T. Meade
  • But Ronsard does not live in literature mainly as a flatterer.

    Old and New Masters Robert Lynd
  • Under the old system I have never been the flatterer of the great.

    Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay George Otto Trevelyan
  • The calumniator and the flatterer, although they seem so opposed to one another, how closely united they really are.

    English Past and Present Richard Chevenix Trench
  • Under the new system I will not be the flatterer of the people.

    Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay George Otto Trevelyan
British Dictionary definitions for flatterer


to praise insincerely, esp in order to win favour or reward
to show to advantage: that dress flatters her
(transitive) to make to appear more attractive, etc, than in reality
to play upon or gratify the vanity of (a person): it flatters her to be remembered
(transitive) to beguile with hope; encourage, esp falsely: this success flattered him into believing himself a champion
(transitive) to congratulate or deceive (oneself): I flatter myself that I am the best
Derived Forms
flatterable, adjective
flatterer, noun
flatteringly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: probably from Old French flater to lick, fawn upon, of Frankish origin


a blacksmith's tool, resembling a flat-faced hammer, that is placed on forged work and struck to smooth the surface of the forging
a die with a narrow rectangular orifice for drawing flat sections
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for flatterer

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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