flat·ter 1 (flătər)
v. flat·tered, flat·ter·ing, flat·ters
1. To compliment excessively and often insincerely, especially in order to win favor.
2. To please or gratify the vanity of: "What really flatters a man is that you think him worth flattering" (George Bernard Shaw).
a. To portray favorably: a photograph that flatters its subject.
b. To show off becomingly or advantageously.
To practice flattery.
[Middle English flateren, from Old French flater, of Germanic origin; see plat- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.