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Are compliments applicable both to people and things, or to people only?

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You could compliment or insult a thing, but since it won't acknowledge your compliment (honestly, it's like talking to a brick wall), there's not much point. But if you could call it a compliment, a common one would be "Wow, the scenery is beautiful" – Jim Jun 19 '13 at 19:38
Although people often accept compliments on behalf of inanimate objects: 'Oh, I love your new curtains' ... 'Why, thank you!' – Snubian Jun 19 '13 at 22:27
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Macmillan specifically states that a compliment (the noun) is "something nice that you say to praise someone."

Oxford likewise asserts that to compliment (the verb) is to "politely congratulate or praise (someone) for something."

Other dictionaries (such as M-W) leave the definition open in an oddly truncated way: "to express esteem, respect, affection, or admiration to : to pay a compliment to."

By the last definition, one can compliment a thing, like the weather.

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So "Oh, what a beautiful morning!" is best left unsaid? – bib Jun 19 '13 at 20:50
@bib That's an exclamation, not a compliment. – Gnawme Jun 19 '13 at 21:03
Arguably, Balaam compliments his donkey when pushed. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 19 '13 at 21:56
Visitors can compliment the weather; anything belonging to or associated with the addressee may be complimented as a way of complimenting the addressee. – John Lawler Jun 19 '13 at 22:02

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