What do you call it when a group of people is feeling self-satisfied and praising themselves, even though others don't think them praise-worthy?

  • It's not an idiom (I like @donothingsuccessfully's answer below), but 'self-congratulatory' can be applied to a group. It, too, isolates the opinion to the group. Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 12:38

8 Answers 8


Mutual admiration society is apparently an expression in English, used at least as early as 1824.

A group of two or more people, in a workplace or other social environment, who routinely express considerable esteem and support for one another, sometimes to the point of exaggeration or pretense.

I was about to comment about the Swedish expression "klubben för inbördes beundran" that translates to pretty much the same thing, and found the English version while researching it.

  • 1
    The term was certainly popularised, and probably coined, by Oliver Wendell Holmes in the mid 1800s, in reference to the "literary set" of Boston, where he himself was based. It seems he actually quite liked being in that society, and enjoyed giving and receiving praise among peers. Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 23:18
  • One might take one of @Jim's suggestions and place it in front of this one if you want to strongly make the point that the Mutual Admiration does not necessarily extend beyond their society.
    – TecBrat
    Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 11:32

The potentially offensive phrase "circle jerk" literally means group masturbation, but is used metaphorically to describe this situation.

  • This is more appropriate for the OP, given the presumed disapproval of those 'outside' the circle. Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 12:34

I propose that self-congratulatory or self-important best capture a person who is complacent and self-praising. Words like smug or preening are more about the manner in which someone expresses conceit.


You could try, smug, pompous, conceited or vain.

smug : highly self-satisfied

pompous: having or exhibiting self-importance

conceited: : having or showing an excessively high opinion of oneself

vain: having or showing undue or excessive pride in one's appearance or achievements


Besides smugness, consider crowing, preening, and bragging. Brag means "to boast; to talk with excessive pride about what one has, can do, or has done."


Such people are said to be in an echo chamber, in the figurative sense. Or such a group can be called an echo chamber.

Echo chamber -- Wikipedia

An echo chamber is a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a defined system. Inside a figurative echo chamber, official sources often go unquestioned and different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented.


Here, it could be a group, or just one person praising themselves...

blow (one's) own horn
To boast or brag about one's own abilities, skills, success, achievements, etc.
The Free Dictionary


You could always say that they were / are gloating.

Definition of 'gloating':

to observe or think about something with triumphant and often malicious satisfaction, gratification, or delight

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.