Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Ingratiate

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is ingratiate. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Ingratiate means “to gain favor or acceptance by deliberate effort.” It is usually used with with, and is often (though not always) used disapprovingly.

// Scam artists often have an uncanny ability to ingratiate themselves with their victims using subtle flattery that only seems obvious in retrospect.

// Although she was nervous to be the new girl in school, Emma quickly ingratiated herself with her classmates through her effortless charm and kind demeanor.


Harley Quinn is … fast, hilarious, and out of control, yet surprisingly thoughtful. The show’s self-awareness of the DC universe is all-encompassing, and it uses the soul of its characters, the breadth of its history, and its recognizable animated aesthetic to ingratiate itself with its fan base without ever appearing subservient to them.” — Matt Schimkowitz, AV Club, 27 July 2022

Did You Know?

When you ingratiate yourself, you put yourself in someone’s good graces in order to gain their approval or favor. While the word ingratiate does not necessarily imply that your behavior is obsequious or otherwise improper, the word may be used disapprovingly by those who distrust your motives. The word entered English in the early 1600s from the combining of the Latin noun gratia, meaning “grace” or “favor,” with the English prefix in-Gratia comes from the adjective gratus, meaning “pleasing, grateful.” Gratus has, over the centuries, ingratiated itself well with the English language as the ancestor of a whole host of words including gratuitouscongratulate, and grace.

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