When someone is flattering another one, does that mean this might imply saying nice things but not necessarily true? For instance, someone saw a lady and told her "nice dress!" even though the dress is not nice. What a word does describe telling nice things but they are necessarily true?

  • Flattery usually is not lying about facts. Other words, such as deceit, describe a situation of lying for selfish reasons. Flattery may involve giving opinions more favorable than one's own, or giving a favorable opinion on a topic about which someone has no important opinion. Flattery is done to make someone feel good, or to win favor, without feeling a strong need to be completely truthful. No dress is by itself nice or not, only by one's opinion. Simply, if the reason for saying "nice dress" is liking the person wearing it more than liking the dress, then saying it is flattery.
    – brainchild
    Nov 21, 2022 at 3:21

2 Answers 2


Flattery, by definition, involves "stretching the truth", but not necessarily a full-on lie.

Something like 'praising' has no such connotations on its own, though like most such descriptions, it can be modified if necessary.


The noun 'flattery' means:

the act of praising someone, often in a way that is not sincere, because you want something from them:

Flattery (Cambridge Dictionary)

The nice things that are said might or might not be true, but the key point is that they are said, not to make the other person happy, but because you want something from them.

Nice things that are said without hoping for anything from the other person are called 'praise' and I wonder if this is the word you are looking for.

It has been said that 'Just praise is only a debt, but flattery is a present'.

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