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A compliment is a benevolent, friendly statement: One person lifts over another person something entirely clear what the former to the other person really like or positively noticeable. It can be properties or performance as well as external characteristics such as a tasteful choice of clothing or physical composition.

However, a compliment can also be in the form of ingratiation, in order to arouse goodwill in another on the basis of positive comments .

Application in parlance


  • "My compliment!"
  • "All attention!"
  • "Hats off!"
  • "Respect!"

The response to compliments can be very different depending on the culture . While in China you are obliged to reject a compliment several times, for example with phrases like: "Oh no!", "You are exaggerating!" Or "Too much praise!", It is more the custom in Europe to accept a compliment with thanks, so as not to force the other to repeat his compliment. Answers to this can be: “Oh thank you, that's nice!” Or “Really? Very flattering!". In any case, it is always right to be sincerely happy about a serious compliment and also to show this joy . Compliments should create a good atmosphere for conversation. The best thing to do is to return the compliment straight away, for example: “But you are also not of bad parents!” Or “You are the greatest professional at that!” And so on. Or try to compliment the other person at the next opportunity.

The recipient and sender of a compliment experience the same positive feeling in the short term. This “emotional response” does not consciously create strong sympathy. People prefer to compliment those traits that are attributed to them.

Compliments are often decried as shallow and even dishonest. So you should try to only give serious compliments. But it is precisely through the determination to want to make frequent and honest compliments that the opportunity opens up to consciously discover the good sides in other people.

Colloquially, there is the expression “fishing for compliments”, which means that someone tries to receive compliments from others because of their behavior. However, this does not necessarily have to be viewed as negative.

A variant of this is to highlight your weaknesses or weaknesses in order to be praised by others for your strengths .

According to a 2008 survey by the men 's magazine Men's Health, women prefer to hear compliments from men, “Mhh, you smell so good” (58%), “I love your great smile” (56%) and “You are the best what has happened to me in my life so far ”(55%).

Day of compliments

In the meantime, a day has also been introduced on which a particularly large number of compliments should be paid. This is annually on January 24th.

See also


  • Gloria Beck: Compliments. An instruction manual. Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-8218-5697-1 .
  • MB Farenkia: Contrasting pragmatics of compliments and responses to compliments. Shaker, Aachen 2004, ISBN 3-8322-3105-6 .
  • Bernard Mulo Farenkia: Creativity and formulas in the realization of compliments: A German-Cameroonian comparison . In: Linguistics online . tape 22 , no. 1 , January 1, 2005, p. 33–44 , doi : 10.13092 / lo.22.754 ( [accessed on April 13, 2020]).
  • J. Holmes: Compliments and Compliment Responses in New Zealand English. In: Anthropological Linguistics. Vol. 28, 1987, pp. 458-508.
  • J. Holmes: Paying Compliments. A Sex-Preferential Politness Strategy. In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Volume 9, 1988, pp. 136-143.
  • J. Mackiewicz: Compliments and Criticism in Books Reviews from Business and Technical Communication Journals. In: Proceedings of the Association for Business Communication Annual Convention. 2005.
  • Lilia Mironovschi: Compliments and replies to compliments in Russian and German. An intercultural comparison. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 2009, ISBN 978-3-631-58815-4 .
  • Sünje Nicolaysen: The compliment as a courtesy strategy. A comparison using the example of Swedish and American English. VDM Verlag Dr. Müller , 2007, ISBN 978-3-8364-1947-5 .
  • Nina Nixdorf: Courtesy in English, German and Russian. An intercultural comparison using the example of rejections and replies to compliments. Tectum, Marburg 2002.
  • J. Probst: A compliment in honor ... aspects of a "polite" speech act in several languages. In: Translation, Intercultural Communication, Language Acquisition and Language Mediation - Living with Several Languages. Festschrift for Juliane House on her 60th birthday. In: Journal for Intercultural Foreign Language Teaching. 2003. ( Online text ( memento of April 8, 2008 in the Internet Archive ))

Web links

Wiktionary: compliment  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. ^ DE Carlston, JJ Skowronski: Linking versus thinking: Evidence for the different associative and attributional bases of spontaneous trait transference and spontaneous trait inference. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Volume 89 (6), December 2005, pp. 884-898, doi: 10.1037 / 0022-3514.89.6.884 .
  2. Björn Krause: Compliments that work ,, June 5, 2008.
  3. Day of Compliments: What our users never dared to say