I know the meaning of the word extol as described in Merriam-Webster, and I have read the examples there, where the word is used for an act or virtue.

However, I have also seen some examples where the word is used in relation to a person; for example, "She extolled the Manager of the hotel".

So, do we use the word in relation to the virtue or the person or both?

  • 1
    You can see from examples in your link that the object of the verb "extol" can be a virtue, act, person, place, and likely many other things. Actually I'm surprised how many examples didn't have "the virtues" following "extol", as in my experience it's almost invariably that, and has become a set phrase and kind of a cliche.
    – Zebrafish
    Jul 28, 2018 at 9:31
  • @Zebrafish But all of the examples from M-W do have the virtues as the object of extol in some form—either before or after. What you don't ever see is simply I extolled you. The example given in the question is, I think, misleading, because the word wouldn't be used in that way on its own—and no doubt there is some missing context. Jul 28, 2018 at 15:55
  • @Jason Bassford, You are right, the example I quoted was a partial sentence, just to show the usage. I have edited it to make it a complete sentence.
    – Maryam
    Jul 28, 2018 at 18:07
  • @Maryam Is that an actual quote? If so, I would say it's wrong—as demonstrated by the uses cited in the answers. :) Jul 28, 2018 at 18:10
  • 1
    @Maryam In your example sentence, it would be correct to say, She extolled the virtues of the Manager of the hotel. Or, She extolled the efficiency of the Manager of the hotel. It can be used to describe a person—but it's specific to something particular about the person. Otherwise, you would need a different word: She complimented the Manager of the hotel. She praised the Manager of the hotel. Jul 28, 2018 at 18:27

2 Answers 2


The term is often used in conbination with “virtues”:


To praise somebody/something very much:

  • extol somebody/something- Doctors often extol the virtues of eating less fat.

  • extol somebody/something as something - She was extolled as a genius.


Other usage examples:

They kept extolling my managerial skills.

Helen and Gina were jealous of their sister’s good fortune, they did not extol her when she won the academic scholarship.

I got angry when my mother would extol my brother’s accomplishments and ignore all the good things I did.


Extol used directly about a person is possible, if perhaps slightly old-fashioned, and is often used in religious contexts. A Google search for 'extolled him' finds examples from Christian, Muslim, and Hindu contexts. "Extolled God" likewise.

Democrats berated President Bush for his handling of the Iraq war Tuesday night and extolled John Kerry as a decorated war hero

Some northern newspapers extolled John Brown as a martyr to the cause of abolition.

My first nonfiction readings class was with Bruce, and I remember how he extolled John Edgar Wideman, Barry Lopez, John Hersey.

Spenser's friend and fellow poet Sir Walter Raleigh also extolled Elizabeth and Protestant England in verse

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