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10 expressions to compliment someone in French

Compliments are considered so important that there is now a global day for them (la journée mondiale du compliment) on March 1. Here, we look at French expressions that could help to make someone’s day a little bit better.

Avoir les yeux revolver’, ‘le regard qui tue’ is not only an extract from a well-known French song by Marc Lavoine but it is a way to compliment someone’s eyes. It means someone's eyes are so captivating and mysterious that they could cause another person's heart to stop. However, be careful when using it. If you say ‘Oh la la le regard qui tue’, it can also mean a person is looking at you with angry eyes, similar to the English phrase, 'If looks could kill'.

If you like the clothes someone is wearing or want to compliment their new haircut, you can say ‘ça te va à ravir’ – meaning ‘this suits you beautifully’.

You can tell someone that he or she is ‘canon’ (literally a cannon) or a ‘bombe’ (bomb). You can also say that he or she is ‘craquant(e)’ (literally crunchy) – meaning that someone, or something, is cute.

You may sometimes hear the common expression ‘avoir bonne mine’, which means your complexion glows and you look really good. It can also remind you of one of the characters of Asterix, Bonemine (Impedimenta in English), who is the proud wife of the chief of the village.

If someone says that you have ‘un sourire à tomber à la renverse’ (a smile which makes them fall), or ‘à tomber par terre’ (that makes you fall on the ground), this means you have a beautiful smile.

If you are very lucky, someone might tell you one day, ‘Rodin n’aurait pas fait mieux que toi’ (literally Rodin would not have done better than you). This expression refers to the French sculptor Auguste Rodin and it means that you are so beautiful you could be a piece of art.

And for readers interested in etymology…the word ‘compliment’ originally comes from the French verb ‘complir’ which meant achievement in the 16th century. It was then used to call the phrases used for a happy or a sad event.
However, the meaning of ‘compliment’ in the 17th century changed to a solemn speech made to someone important. In the end, compliments just make you feel important.

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