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I'm having trouble coming up with a word. I need to know what word describes the act of giving someone false confidence. An example would be...

Someone made a batch of home brewed beer and gave it to a master brewer. They said that it was good but the home brewer knows that it isn't. The brewer only said it was good to be polite and encouraging but that's not very helpful in the long run for the home brewer.

It's not really that the master brewer is patronizing the home brewer, he's not being condescending or acting superior, but "patronizing" is the only word I can think of at the moment. Maybe "enabling" would be a better description but I was wondering if anyone could think of a better term to describe this situation.

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    He just wants to be polite even though the beer may be terrible, this sounds like a white lie.
    – Zebrafish
    Feb 18, 2019 at 3:41
  • It depends on if you think the end result is good or not. If it ends up causing harm, then it's misleading (or worse). If the home brewer ends up opening a business based on the false review, then the result could actually be disastrous. Are you trying to say that the master brewer did a good thing or a bad thing? Feb 18, 2019 at 18:00

3 Answers 3

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The master brewer flattered the home brewer about the quality of his beer.

Frequently, this word is used to indicate praise, but it's actual definition is about excessive praise. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/flatter

The definitions indicating the excessive praise are a screen or two down from the top.

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I believe the main point in your context is pretending to like something in order not to hurt someone. It is not really about insincere praise and there are no motives of self-interest. In this manner, a word that fits the context is spare, but more specifically the idiomatic phrase spare someone's feelings. Merriam-Webster provides the definition of the idiomatic phrase and an example just like yours as below:

to avoid doing or saying something that will hurt someone emotionally : to avoid upsetting someone
We pretended to like his artwork in order to spare his feelings.

The master brewer actually does this in a way to encourage or motivate the novice home brewer. Thus, these verbs can work too with the context around them. The master brewer knows that the home brewer is trying and he has the courage to try something new; and instead of discouraging him by being blunt about the taste, he is encouraging him to keep on brewing beer. Of course, the master brewer could be saying something like this instead of just good for the taste: "Good effort! Keep working on it! Try adding more of this ingredient and leave the wort to ferment for a bit longer."

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One word that may serve your purpose is pep talk

From Merriam-Webster

Pep talk: a usually brief, intense, and emotional talk designed to influence or encourage an audience

Pep talk is always given by military commanders before sending soldiers to combat.

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  • I'm not sure this fits the example given in the question, although it may serve in other situations. Aug 15, 2022 at 8:49
  • "Pep talk" doesn't imply giving false confidence.
    – Stuart F
    Aug 15, 2022 at 11:12

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