Etymology
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flatter (v.)
c. 1200, flateren, flaterien, "seek to please or gratify (someone) by undue praise, praise insincerely, beguile with pleasing words," from Old French flater "to deceive; caress, fondle; prostrate, throw, fling (to the ground)" (13c.), probably from a Germanic source, perhaps from Proto-Germanic *flata- "flat" (from PIE root *plat- "to spread").

"Of somewhat doubtful etymology" [OED]. Liberman calls it "one of many imitative verbs beginning with fl- and denoting unsteady or light, repeated movement" (for example flicker, flutter). If it is related to flat the notion could be either "caress with the flat of the hand, stroke, pet," or "throw oneself flat on the ground" (in fawning adoration). The -er ending is unusual for an English verb from French; perhaps it is by influence of shimmer, flicker, etc., or from flattery.

Meaning "give a pleasing but false impression to" is from late 14c. Sense of "show (something) to best advantage" is from 1580s, originally of portraits. Related: Flattered; flattering.
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unflattering (adj.)
1580s, from un- (1) "not" + gerundive of flatter. Related: Unflatteringly.
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flattery (n.)
early 14c., "dishonest praise, coaxing speech," from Old French flaterie "flattery, cajolery" (Modern French flatterie), from flater "to flatter" (see flatter).
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flatterer (n.)
mid-14c., agent noun from flatter. An old contemptuous term for one was flattercap (1680s). Fem. form flatteress is attested from late 14c.-18c.
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flattering (adj.)
late 14c., "pleasing to the imagination; dishonestly pleasing; having a false appearance of favorableness," present-participle adjective from flatter. Meaning "gratifying to self-esteem" is from 1757. Related: Flatteringly.
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*plat- 

also *pletə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to spread;" extension of root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread."

It forms all or part of: clan; flan; flat (adj.) "without curvature or projection;" flat (n.) "a story of a house;" flatter (v.); flounder (n.) "flatfish;" implant; piazza; place; plaice; plane; (n.4) type of tree; plant; plantain (n.2); plantar; plantation; plantigrade; plat; plate; plateau; platen; platform; platinum; platitude; Platonic; Plattdeutsch; platter; platypus; plaza; supplant; transplant.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit prathati "spreads out;" Hittite palhi "broad;" Greek platys "broad, flat;" Latin planta "sole of the foot;" Lithuanian platus "broad;" German Fladen "flat cake;" Old Norse flatr "flat;" Old English flet "floor, dwelling;" Old Irish lethan "broad."

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blandish (v.)
mid-14c., "to flatter," from Old French blandiss-, present participle stem of blandir "to flatter, caress," from Latin blandiri "flatter, soothe, caress, coax," from blandus "smooth-talking, flattering, alluring," perhaps from PIE root *mel- (1) "soft." OED reports it rare in 17c., 18c., and Johnson says he knows it only from Milton. Related: Blandished; blandishing.
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adulate (v.)
"flatter slavishly," 1777, back-formation from adulation. Related: Adulated; adulating.
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smaik (n.)
"mean or contemptible fellow," mid-15c., Scottish, now archaic, current c. 1450-c. 1900, perhaps cognate with Old High German smeichari, from smeken "to flatter."
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compliment (v.)

1610s, "pay a compliment to, flatter or gratify by expression of admiration, respect, etc.," from French complimenter, from compliment (see compliment (n.)). By 1690s as "manifest kindness or regard for by a gift or favor." Related: Complimented; complimenting.

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