MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Why do we say "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"?

Well-Known Expressions

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Meaning:

This expression is usually used ironically to comment on somebody who is copying another person with the intention of gaining attention for themselves.

Background:

The earliest known use of this exact expression is in Charles Caleb Colton's 1820 Lacon: or Many Things in Few Words, addressed to those who think. But there are earlier variations such as a 1714 issue of The Spectator magazine which included the phrase: Imitation is a kind of artless flattery.

Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832) was an English clergyman and something of an eccentric. Educated at Eton, followed by King's College, where he got both a B.A. and an M.A., he was presented by the college with the perpetual curacy of Tiverton's Prior's Quarter in the county of Devon. According to Wikipedia, "unlike ancient rectories and vicarages, perpetual curacies were supported by a cash stipend, usually maintained by an endowment fund, and had no ancient right to income from tithe or glebe...compared to rectors and vicars of ancient parishes, perpetual curates tended to be of uncertain social standing; and also be much less likely to be adequately paid."

A decade or so later, he was appointed vicar of Kew and Petersham (in the south of modern-day Greater London). Apparently his style was somewhat erratic and he left church service, and England, in 1828--some say fleeing his creditors. After a couple of years in the U.S. he moved to Paris where he invested in paintings and frequented the gaming salons. Apparently he did rather well for himself--until he lost it all. At the time of his self-inflicted death, he was living on family funds.

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Black Cathedral
    The Black Cathedral
    by Marcial Gala
    Marcial Gala's The Black Cathedral, translated from the Spanish by Anna Kushner, is narrated through...
  • Book Jacket: When We Were Vikings
    When We Were Vikings
    by Andrew David MacDonald
    In When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald, readers are first introduced to Zelda on her ...
  • Book Jacket: How to Build a Heart
    How to Build a Heart
    by Maria Padian
    Maria Padian is well-known for her motif of exploring teen reactions to social issues. Her novel ...
  • Book Jacket: Follow Me to Ground
    Follow Me to Ground
    by Sue Rainsford
    Ada and her father are human-like beings who age slowly and possess the power to heal all illness. ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Red Letter Days
    by Sarah-Jane Stratford

    A striking novel about two daring women who escape McCarthy-era Hollywood for London.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Splendid and the Vile
    by Erik Larson

    A fresh and compelling portrait of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
American Dirt
by Jeanine Cummins

"American Dirt is a Grapes of Wrath for our times."
—Don Winslow

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The Lost Family

The Lost Family
by Libby Copeland

A deeply reported look at the rise of home genetic testing and the seismic shock it has had on individual lives.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A F I Need I A F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.