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In Legally Blond the musical they use the phrase:

MARGOT: Dear Elle, He's a lucky guy. I'm like gonna cry, I got tears coming out of my nose!

Mad Props! He's the campus catch, You're a perfect match, Cause you both got such great taste in clothes, Of course he will propose!

I see it used in a congratulatory sense, "mad props to you for doing X".

My intuition tells me that this is about "giving someone their propers" - but that makes no sense in this context to me. (As in, I don't have enough information to categorise that.) I'd never heard that used in a sentence before - and it smells of a social obligation.

My question is: How do I understand when to use the phrase 'mad props'?

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  • I have a few times seen "props" used in a sense that implies a meaning of "praise" or "congratulations". I'm thinking it's been mostly in the show business realm. Urban Dictionary calls it "proper recognition", "proper respect", or "propers". (Note that "propers" is not idiomatic in the US, though apparently it is used in rap circles.)
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 31, 2016 at 3:44
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    You're almost there: "Mad props to you for making the perfect match with the campus catch."
    – deadrat
    Jan 31, 2016 at 3:56
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    whenever you feel X is praiseworthy, you can use it.
    – CDM
    Jan 31, 2016 at 5:01

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My advice is don't use it. I think people who use this phrase come across as "try hards". To me they sound like they are trying hard to look cool by imitating a culture they are not part of.

If you insist on using it, you could consider softening it by dropping the "mad" prefix. E.g.

"Props to Andy for winning the hack-a-thon"

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