It is from a definiton by The Merriam Webster Dictionary. Here it goes:

:to gain favor or favorable acceptance for by deliberate effort —usually used with with

It would make more sense to me of the word were left out. Why did the authors of the dictionary put in there?


2 Answers 2


For clarity, the dictionary definition you are quoting is for the word ingratiate.

I think the problem is you are seeing the words "for by" as if they are an expression when that is not the case.

Dictionary definitions often present you with multiple meanings. There are two here, so lets break it down:

  1. To gain favor


  1. [to gain] favorable acceptance for


  1. by deliberate effort

I believe the definition is saying that ingratiate can mean either gaining favour for oneself, perhaps, or gaining favourable acceptance for something or someone else. So in this case "for" means "on behalf of".

But in either case, it is always by deliberate effort.


OP writes:

It would make more sense to me if the word [for] were left out

that is , left out of the definition to gain favor or favorable acceptance for by deliberate effort.

The preposition for there means "on behalf of".

The dictionary definition you cited is elliptical. It is leaving something out. The dictionary has left out {something} and it has left out {from someone}.

We seek acceptance for {something} from {someone}.

For example, for a proposal, or an action we intend to take. That is, we seek to have that thing be accepted (by someone). We seek their acceptance of it.

We are proposing to turn the southwest corner of Elm Street and Main Street into a children's playground. We are seeking acceptance for this proposal. Will you sign our petition?

The definition is elliptical because these things it has left out, something and from someone, are "variables" or "slots" that will always be implicitly present on a semantic level, and the definition is focusing narrowly on the action per se.

If we seek acceptance, without the preposition for and without the object of for, that is, whatever the "something" happens to be, we are seeking acceptance on behalf of ourselves, not on behalf of something else, and what we want to be accepted is ourselves.

The wolf showed up in the territory of another pack and sought acceptance there.

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