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Is the phrase I am flattered inherently negative?

for example

A : you're my favorite

B: I am flattered

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  • Why should it be?
    – BillJ
    May 23, 2017 at 16:51
  • It is equivalent to "thank you", which can be positive or negative depending on context and tone.
    – Andrew
    May 23, 2017 at 18:01

1 Answer 1

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No is the short answer.

Stating "I am flattered" is equivalent to stating (in far fewer words):

"I acknowledge your compliment and while I am not commenting on whether or not I agree with your compliment, I am nevertheless pleased that you think that way."

It is possible for "I am flattered" to be stated sarcastically (in the same matter that everything in English can be stated sarcastically). Applying that meaning (like all sarcasm) would require a significant change in tone as well as an accompanying facial expression of disgust or surprise. It would perhaps be stated in that manner when the compliment is completely self-evident or when the listener does not actually believe that it is a compliment. Again, I'd like to emphasize that this entire paragraph applies equally well to all sarcasm and not just "I am flattered."

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