Definition of flatter in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈflatə/


[with object]
1Lavish praise and compliments on (someone), often insincerely and with the aim of furthering one’s own interests: she was flattering him in order to avoid doing what he wanted
More example sentences
  • He does not flatter me with compliments, which I know cannot be genuine.
  • Yes, that possibility is something I wondered about when men flattered me with comments about being cute, sweet and sexy.
  • An assistant professor of creative writing at Columbia University told Time magazine that he flatters his students in order to guarantee favorable evaluations.
compliment, praise, commend, admire, express admiration for, pay tribute to, say nice things about;
pay court to, pay blandishments to, fawn on, wax lyrical about, make much of;
cajole, humour, flannel, blarney
informal sweet-talk, soft-soap, butter up, lay it on thick, lay it on with a trowel, play up to, suck up to, crawl to, creep to, be all over, fall all over
archaic blandish
rare laud, panegyrize
1.1Cause (someone) to feel honoured and pleased: [with object and infinitive]: I was very flattered to be given the commission [with object and clause]: she felt flattered that he was confiding in her
More example sentences
  • Patrick was flattered and pleased that his old friends had elected to let him continue to play with them.
  • He said it pleased him, and he was flattered not offended.
  • On the one hand I'm slightly flattered by the attention and pleased that the writing here is giving someone pleasure.
honour, gratify, please, give pleasure to, make someone pleased/glad, delight, gladden
informal tickle pink
1.2 (flatter oneself) Choose to believe something favourable about oneself, typically when this belief is unfounded: ‘Don’t flatter yourself! I wasn’t doing it for your benefit!’
More example sentences
  • I'm not flattering myself with some deluded belief of self-importance, if things get out of hand (which probably/hopefully they will not) I'll be the one getting really upset.
  • Their findings suggest that many were flattering themselves in their self-reported profiles.
  • I went back thinking these were guys I had formed a great rapport with, and I realised that actually I was flattering myself.
1.3Give an unrealistically favourable impression of: the final scoreline flattered England
More example sentences
  • Scotland coach Matt Williams said he was pleased with his team's performance but said the final scoreline flattered the Australians.
  • Parkville advanced in the Youths Shield, but were somewhat flattered by the final scoreline.
  • York dominated for long periods so much that the final scoreline flattered Leeds.
1.4(Of a colour or a style of clothing) cause (someone) to appear to the best advantage: the fuchsia shade flattered her pale skin
More example sentences
  • The empire line is back in vogue after several decades, but it has always been a great style to flatter any figure.
  • Layered shaggy styles flatter the pear shape face.
  • Allow your child to try on different clothing styles until she finds what flatters her or suits her personality.
suit, become, set off, show to advantage, enhance, look good on, look right on, be appropriate to, go well with, embellish, ornament, grace, befit
informal do something for
1.5 archaic Please (the ear or eye): the beauty of the stone flattered the clergyman’s eyes
More example sentences
  • Deftly edited, with a quickness of the hand that flatters the eye, the series has provided a slick, hip and credible makeover for an ancient art.


flatter to deceive

Appear promising but ultimately disappoint.
Example sentences
  • They flatter to deceive, luring innocents with sympathetic words and false promises.
  • He flatters to deceive, though, and it's too late for him to change now.
  • Although they currently occupy a respectable seventh place in the Celtic League it flatters to deceive.


Middle English: perhaps a back-formation from flattery.

Words that rhyme with flatter

attar, batter, bespatter, chatter, clatter, hatter, Kenyatta, latter, matamata, matter, natter, patter, platter, ratter, regatta, satyr, scatter, shatter, smatter, spatter, splatter, yatter

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: flat|ter

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.