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Key Difference – Flattery vs Compliment

Both flattery and compliments are used to praise someone; however, there is a big difference between flattery and compliment. The key difference between flattery and compliment lies in the sincerity. Flattery is excessive or insincere praise whereas compliments are a genuine appreciation of something or someone.

What Does Flattery Mean?

Flattery refers to insincere or excessive praise. This kind of praise is usually given with an ulterior motive of furthering one’s own interests.

Do you know the Aesop’s Fables, of the crow and the fox? This tale is a perfect example of the function of flattery. In this tale, a crow finds a piece of cheese and prepares to eat it. A fox, who wants the cheese for himself, flatters the crow, calling it beautiful and asking whether he has a sweet voice to match its appearance. The crow opens its mouth to crow, and the piece of cheese falls down.

As seen in this tale, a person usually flatters another to further his or her own interests. His motive may be to borrow something from that person, to get help for something, to create a positive impression about himself, or even to cause harm. Although many people are taken in by people flatter them, flattery is never a good way to impress anyone. It shows the insincerity and dishonesty of a person.

Difference Between Flattery and Compliment

What Does Compliment Mean?

Compliment is a polite expression of praise and appreciation. Compliments are usually genuine and sincere. For example, if you eat tasty food, you can compliment the cook on his skills. If someone says that your dress is nice, she is complimenting your dress. If you do well in your exam, everyone will compliment you on your success. There is no ulterior motive in paying someone a compliment; it is a polite expression and shows your sincerity.

Key Difference - Flattery vs Compliment

You are such a brave boy.

What is the difference between Flattery and Compliment?


Flattery is insincere and excessive praise.

Compliment is a polite expression of praise and expression.


Flattery has negative connotations.

Compliment has positive connotations.


Flattery may have an ulterior, selfish motive.

Compliment is merely a form of politeness or appreciation; there is no ulterior motive.

Image Courtesy:

“Fox and crow Fables choisies Tokio” from Choix de fables de La Fontaine illustrées par un groupe des meilleurs artistes de Tokyo. Sous la dir. de Pierre Barboutau; 1894 (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

“1678116” (Public Domain) via Pixabay