The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘compliments’


April 5, 2016 | by

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Maskenball, 1911.

It recently occurred to me that there is one aspect of parties I actively dread. It’s not the socializing. It’s not the dressing up—although it’s true I am not burdened by talent in the hair or makeup department, and begrudge the expense. 

What makes my heart sink is the thought of all that obligatory mutual admiration: “You look beautiful.” “You look great.” Hoping to be the first to get it in; not wanting to sound forced, yet absolutely compelled to join in the ritual. Read More »

Trading Places

March 19, 2014 | by


An illustration from the Betsy-Tacy series.

Repeating compliments to a third party is a bit like giving money: everyone’s glad to get them, but the giving can be awkward.

It was not always so. Time was, the passing on of compliments was so ritualized a part of life that the practice had a name: trade-last. Merriam-Webster’s defines it as “a complimentary remark by a third person that a hearer offers to repeat to the person complimented if he or she will first report a compliment made about the hearer,” and dates the first recorded use of the term to 1891. Read More »