Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery is a proverb. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase. These common sayings are language tools that particularly give advice or share a universal truth, or impart wisdom. Synonyms for proverb include adage, aphorism, sayings, and byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the written or spoken proverb himself. Speakers of English as a second language are sometimes confused by these pithy sayings as translations from English to other languages do not carry the impact that the English phrases carry. Some common proverbs are the wise sayings better late than never, early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, haste makes waste, blood is thicker than water, and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. One of the books of the Bible is the Book of Proverbs, which contains words and phrases that are still often quoted in the English language because they are wise. Many current proverbs are quotations taken from literature, particularly Shakespeare, as well as the Bible and other sacred writings. We will examine the meaning of the expression imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery is a proverb that means trying do what someone else does, own what someone else owns, or think like someone else thinks is a compliment to that person. However, the expression imitation is the sincerest form of flattery is often used when someone copies another but does not acknowledge that fact. One may mimic or attempt to imitate another’s mannerisms, gestures, facial expressions, buying habits, business practices, or originality of thinking. While such emulation and mimicking may stem from sincere admiration, the imitator may also harbor unconscious envy. The term copycat is often used for imitators who become irritating. Children and toddlers often mimic their role models as a way to learn acceptable behavior; adults who mimic their role models in obvious ways are regarded with suspicion. The phrase imitation is the sincerest form of flattery was first used in print in Charles Caleb Colton’s work, Lacon: or Many Things in Few Words, addressed to those who think, published in 1820, though the idea had been around much longer. Oscar Wilde expounded upon the idea in this quote: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”



    There is some truth to Oscar Wilde’s statement that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and, in the food and beverage market, successful brands frequently find their competitors trying to piggy-back off that success by copying elements of their packaging, labelling and branding. (The Otago Daily Times)

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I remember wanting so much to be just like them. (The Mason City Globe Gazette)

    They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but designer and former Cathedral vice principal Jere Kubuske is calling out the Indianapolis Colts for stealing his logo design. (The Indianapolis Star)

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