What Does Flattery Will Get You Nowhere Mean?

Flattery Will Get You Nowhere Meaning

Definition: Complimenting someone won’t help you achieve what you want from him or her.

Origin of Flattery Will Get Your Nowhere

The warning against flattery is quite old, but this particular expression is quite new.

For example, Aristophanes (388 B.C.), Cato (175 B.C.), and Cicero (45 B.C.) are just three famous ancients who warned against flattery, yet the phrase flattery will get your nowhere originates from the mid-1900s.

A contrasting phrase is flattery will get you everywhere. It is unclear which one came first.

Flattery is another word for compliments given to someone. Some people like being flattered, and therefore are more susceptible to do favors for the people who are saying nice things to them.

However, other people are completely against this practice. These types of people are the ones most likely to say flattery will get you nowhere. They hope to make clear that they will stick to their principles regardless of any compliments.

Examples of Flattery Will Get Your Nowhere

flattery will get you everywhere origin In the dialogue below, two friends are at a nightclub.

Tina: Keanu, you look great tonight! Very handsome!

Keanu: Um, thanks.

Tina: The blue in your shirt really brings out the color of your eyes. Wow, I’m so thirsty. I could really use a margarita.

Keanu: Listen, I know what you’re doing. Flattery will get you nowhere.

Tina: I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Keanu: You’re complimenting me in order to make me more inclined to buy you a drink. Well, it’s not going to happen. I don’t have enough cash to buy my own drink, so you’re on your own.

flattery will get you everywhere quote In this example, two friends are discussing the romantic problems that one of them is dealing with.

Jonah: I really like this girl, Tracy.

Tatiana: I know her. She’s awesome.

Jonah: I keep telling her how beautiful she is, but she still won’t go on a date with me.

Tatiana: Flattery will get you nowhere with her. If you want to date her you have to prove that you are an exciting person. She cares more about an interesting personality than compliments.

More Examples

This excerpt is about a golfer.

  • Flattery will get you nowhere with Spieth, who values facetiousness. –New York Times

The second example is from an article about rulings by the IRS on self-employment income.

  • Q: This was awesome. Very informative. Dare I say, you’ve changed the trajectory of my career. I have to ask, what are the last three cases/rulings on your list?
  • A: Flattery will get you nowhere. You’ll just have to wait to find out like everyone else. –Forbes


The idiom flattery will get you nowhere means that it doesn’t matter how nicely you talk about someone, because that person still won’t grant you any favors.