Flatter means to praise someone highly.

But then how to express that something is more flat than something else? Well, some sources say the comparative form of flat is just "more flat", but confusingly, Oxford Languages and other sources say the comparative form is "flatter" and the superlative is "flattest". Does it just depend on the context? Are both correct?

flat¹ [adjective] [comparative flatter, superlative flattest]: ...

[1]a2: having a level surface, not curved or sloping, and without holes or any bits sticking out

[Oxford Learner's Dictionary]

  • 3
    What's wrong with "flatter"? It's a homonym with the verb, but we have lots of homonyms. They won't be confused because they're different parts of speech.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 21:20
  • 1
    Though not forbidden, use of periphrastic comparatives is rare with single-syllable adjectives / adverbs. // 'Better', 'fuller', 'lower', 'cleaner', 'lighter', 'kinder' ... also present ambiguities. Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


According to Ngram, "is flatter than" is much more popular than "is more flat than." This use of "flatter" as a comparative form is good enough for the NYT. Of course, there are circumstances where the word "flatter" might be ambiguous, since it is a homonym of the verb, but I think there are quite few circumstances where this could cause genuine confusion.

  • Though the origins abroad might coincide, 'flatter' [v] and 'flatter' [adj comp] are different words, homonyms. Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 11:47
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth Sorry, corrected my answer to make that clear.
    – alphabet
    Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 13:54

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