Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To compliment excessively and often insincerely, especially in order to win favor.
  • transitive v. To please or gratify the vanity of: "What really flatters a man is that you think him worth flattering” ( George Bernard Shaw).
  • transitive v. To portray favorably: a photograph that flatters its subject.
  • transitive v. To show off becomingly or advantageously.
  • intransitive v. To practice flattery.
  • n. A flat-faced swage or hammer used by blacksmiths.
  • n. A die plate for flattening metal into strips, as in the manufacture of watch springs.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. comparative form of flat: more flat
  • n. A type of set tool used by blacksmiths.
  • n. Someone who flattens, purposely or accidently. Also flattener.
  • v. To compliment someone, often insincerely and sometimes to win favour
  • v. To enhance someone's vanity by praising them
  • v. To portray something to advantage.
  • v. To convey notions of the facts that are believed to be favorable to the hearer without certainty of the truthfulness of the notions conveyed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who, or that which, makes flat or flattens.
  • n.
  • n. A flat-faced fulling hammer.
  • n. A drawplate with a narrow, rectangular orifice, for drawing flat strips, as watch springs, etc.
  • intransitive v. To use flattery or insincere praise.
  • transitive v. To treat with praise or blandishments; to gratify or attempt to gratify the self-love or vanity of, esp. by artful and interested commendation or attentions; to blandish; to cajole; to wheedle.
  • transitive v. To raise hopes in; to encourage or favorable, but sometimes unfounded or deceitful, representations.
  • transitive v. To portray too favorably; to give a too favorable idea of.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To please or gratify, or seek to please or gratify, by praise, especially undue praise, or by obsequious attentions, submission, imitation, etc.; play upon the vanity or self-love of (a person) with a view to gain some advantage.
  • To produce self-complacency or a feeling of personal gratification in; please; charm: as, to feel flattered by approval.
  • To persuade of something which gives pleasure or satisfaction; give encouragement to; especially, to give pleasing but false impressions or encouragement to.
  • To make appear better than the reality warrants: as, the portrait flatters its subject.
  • To use language intended to gratify the vanity or self-love of a person; use undue praise.
  • To flutter; float.
  • n. One who or that which flattens or makes flat.
  • n. Specifically A hammer with a broad face, used by smiths in working flat faces.
  • n. In wire-drawing, a draw-plate with a flat orifice for drawing flat strips, as for watch-springs, skirt-wire, etc.
  • n. Also flattener.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. praise somewhat dishonestly

Etymologies

Middle English flateren, from Old French flater, of Germanic origin; see plat- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English flatteren, flateren ("to flutter, float, fawn over"), probably a conflation of Old English floterian ("to flutter, float, be disquieted"), from Proto-Germanic *flutrōnan (“to be floating”), from Proto-Indo-European *plewd-, *plew- (“to flow, swim”); and Old Norse flaðra ("to fawn on someone, flatter"), from Proto-Germanic *flaþrōnan (“to fawn over, flutter”), from Proto-Indo-European *peled- (“moisture, wetness”), *pel- (“to gush, pour out, fill, flow, swim, fly”). Cognate with Middle Dutch flatteren ("to embellish, flatter, caress"), German flattern ("to flutter"). The Middle English word may have been reinforced in meaning by unrelated Old French flatter ("to stroke, caress, flatter"), from Frankish *flat ("palm, flat of the hand"). More at flat. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • V. ii.823 (467,8) [To flatter up these powers of mine with rest] Dr. Warburton would read _fetter_, but _flatter_ or _sooth_ is, in my opinion, more apposite to the king's purpose than _fetter_.

    Notes to Shakespeare — Volume 01: Comedies

  • Perhaps I again flatter myself, but I think I've contributed as much to the development and celebration of real American culture as Racistsentative Russell Pearce.

    SeeLight:

  • The whole area is quite a bit lower than the survey indicates, and it's much "flatter" - the hills aren't as high, and the low spots aren't as low relative to the surrounding terrain.

    All Discussion Groups: Message List - root

  • The more violent an act the flatter should be the presentation.

    CIDER SUNRISE • by Oonah V Joslin

  • To be sedulous in promoting another’s good, also to flatter is to honour, as a sign we seek his protection or aid.

    Chapter X. Of Power, Worth, Dignity, Honour, and Worthiness

  • Birk's street-front shop is piled high with all that's left over when most of us have been sold on the idea of flatter screens and a more well rounded sound and convenience beyond our dreams.

    Toronto Sun

  • The new, " flatter " structure would give Mr. Burke — who is slated to be NBC Universal ' s chief executive — more direct oversight of the company ' s biggest assets: cable and broadcast television networks.

    Comcast to Reorganize, Streamline Executive Suite at NBC Universal

  • I really like the witch postcard - the only reason the house looks like it has legs is because of the angle you've set them at - if you'd arranged them 'flatter' ie more horizontal it would work - I think the concept is terrific!

    Wicked Witch

  • The planet isn't just getting smaller and "flatter," it's also becoming smarter.

    Let's Spend on Broadband and the Power Grid

  • We are witnessing manufacturing Darwinism as the world gets "flatter" (Friedman) and GM's position as the center of (their own) universe is passing.

    The Big Three, the Big Swindle and the Boat We Might Catch

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