Posted by Gary Martin on April 11, 2007
In Reply to: Flatter to deceive posted by Smokey Stover on April 11, 2007
: : : What is rhe origin of 'flatter to deceive'? And what exactly does it mean - flatter whom to deceive whom?
: : I would guess that the flatterer is deceiving the flatteree. Blowing smoke up his/her a**. Or pumping sunshine up his/her skirt. Like my husband bragging on my cooking to trick me into preparing all the meals.
: Although I've made the usual superficial Internet search, I can't find an origin for this very poetic-sounding phrase. It would go very well, for instance, in a line like: 'When first they flatter to deceive.' I think the meaning is clear: if you flatter someone, they're more likely to be in a mood to believe you when you tell them a taradiddle. However, the vast majority of citations brought up by Google do not seem to be based on this meaning.
There does seem to be a specific meaning which isn't the literal one. The phrase is fairly common ly used in the UK and during last year's football World Cup I heard it used several times by commentators. They were talking about footballers who 'flattered to deceive' in their performance on the pitch. My guess is that they meant that a player was more skillful than at first sight he appeared to be.
I'm confused by the phrase and suspect that the commentators were too. Football commentary often makes little sense - e.g. "If you can't stand the heat in the dressing room, get out of the kitchen".