Does English have a word for someone who compliments another person in a way which is awkward or even embarrassing?

Someone who uses compliments which are overly-familiar and all but inappropriate, and praises someone they barely know in over-the-top fashion?

  • 7
    The most common adjective used here is fulsome. Fulsome compliments is almost a cliché. Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 16:16
  • 2
    I nominate effusive: "marked by the expression of great or excessive emotion or enthusiasm," according to Merriam-Webster.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 17:15
  • I might use a simple one - assenting
    – alpa
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 17:24
  • 1
    So you're looking for a synonym for "bar patron"?
    – user45623
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 4:03
  • So the compliments clearly aren't genuine, right? Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 21:20

11 Answers 11



From the ODO:


Displaying exaggerated flattery or affection; obsequious:


'fawning interviews with Hollywood celebs'


As touched upon in a previous answer, obsequious fits the bill somewhat.

Full of or exhibiting servile compliance; fawning.



I'm fond of “unctuous” :


Excessively flattering or ingratiating; oily: he seemed anxious to please but not in an unctuous way

from the ODO


sycophant -- a person who praises powerful people in order to get their approval

  • A good word choice, @anon777. If you add examples and citations (see some of the other answers), I am sure you will see more upvotes for 'sycophant'. Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 13:09


1. a person who behaves obsequiously to someone important.


For example: The governor surrounded herself with toadies who ensured a constant stream of sunshine flowed up the gubernatorial anus.

  • Welcome to the ELU :-). Toady is a good suggestion, but the answer would be even better if you included the source of the usage example. If you throw in a dictionary definition (with a reference), even better ;-).
    – Lucky
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 17:44
  • 1
    Thanks. Really, posters are expected to look up an example and cite for basic vocabulary and a sentence? Something about burden of proof is off in that model. I don't want to win the answer contest, just help someone find a word. I get it for a point of fact, but vocabulary? I am not trying to be rude, just trying to understand how this place works.
    – Nenagh
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 1:32
  • 1
    It isn't obligatory, but it's recommended (it may depend on the sort or question you are answering, but yes it does apply to vocabulary questions). If the sentence you gave is your own, than it's OK, but if it's someone else's than attributing their work is obligatory. For more information on how the site works you can check out the help centre and meta. Or look for the most upvoted answers under the tag of your interest :-)
    – Lucky
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 1:53
  • 7
    Sometimes the word suggested needs no backup, no support it is so well-known and commonplace it would be silly to quote from a dictionary. But some words are slang, colloquial, only used in America, or in Australia, for example, in those cases it is helpful to leave a link, or provide a brief explanation or clarification. Many users on the site are not native speakers, while some of us are ex-pats missing from the homeland for decades, and are unfamiliar with new phrases. So, think of these poor souls when they see a word that means a frog, but is used to describe a flatterer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 7:27
  • 1
    I think it is a good answer though so have made the suggested edits. I hope that's ok with you Nenagh. Please feel free to roll them back if not.
    – Avon
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 13:38


uttered with unrestrained enthusiasm

Profuse; overflowing: effusive praise.





(Of speech or writing) effusive or exaggeratedly enthusiastic: gushing praise

See the ODO.

  • 7
    @tchrist there was a new member who used to post three answers, quite regularly in SWR, and nobody ever left a similar comment. I'm sure on meta there are topics encouraging users to submit different answers in separate posts. Two different answers are not rep-hounding/whoring, but anything over three would be, I'd agree, dangerously close.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 7:18
  • @tchrist There was a meta question posted about this just yesterday: meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/6969/…
    – Nicole
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 18:53
  • 4
    I hate when a SWR answer has more than one suggestion. How are we supposed to vote on that? Many a time I have said, I would upvote this but for the other two (or more). Not that I've never done it, as there seems to be no rule about it one way or another.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 22:54

I see the adjective tag, but for me "a single word for someone" calls for a noun (otherwise you have adjective + "person"). So, my suggestions are:


That many in the eighteenth century actively resisted what seemed to them classical cultural imperialism, something supported by contemporaries they considered spineless adulators and imitators, may be less widely understood.

No one likes a smarmy adulator

derived from

to adulate

Praise (someone) excessively (ODO)

or you could use:


A person who lavishes praise, often insincerely; a sycophant:

he is not allowing flatterers to deceive him

If you insist on an adjective then the above mentioned:


behaving in a way that seems polite, kind, or pleasing but is not genuine or believable (M-W)

might fit.

  • Agreed -- the question is clearly asking for a noun, not an adjective.
    – Ethan
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 5:55

For the special case when such compliments are part of an ulterior motive: A kiss-ass, alternately ass-kisser, is a person who excessively praises a superior with the (perhaps only perceived) intention of gaining favor for personal advancement. This pejorative term would likely be used by such a person's colleagues, who are disgruntled by the unseemly competition.

Similar terms include brown-noser, suck-up, and arguably teacher's pet (when the person is a student and their lauded superior is their teacher).


You might describe this person as having a cloying personality:

cloy: disgust or sicken (someone) with an excess of sweetness, richness, or sentiment.


kiss-up (plural kiss-ups)

(colloquial) One who flatters a supervisor, or superior, in order to get special attention Joe got that promotion because he was a kiss-up, not because he knew the job.


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