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Accept can mean a few things.

You can, for example, accept someone into your club. If your club is, for example, a private, mystical cabal of some sort you can then teach the person your secret handshakes. Although, I’d recommend that you insist on psychological testing of all involved before you accept someone who wants to join a club that has a secret handshake.

Accept can also mean that you regard something as proper deportment. For example, you might say, “I accept your publicly promiscuous behavior as long as I’m a beneficiary of it.” But maybe that’s just me or, much more accurately, maybe that’s just my irrational wishful thinking.

You might also use accept to mean that you believe the accuracy of a statement. For example, you might say, “I accept that the theory of evolution is true because it fully explains the evidence at hand and to believe in Creationism would be ridiculously risible.” Fortunately, I’m not the only one who would say that, but it’s still not as widely accepted a position as it should be.

In addition, to accept something means to take delivery of or agree to take delivery of something. That something doesn’t necessarily have to be something tangible. For example, you can accept compliments or praise.

That is common usage, but does it really make sense? Do you have any option but to accept compliments and praise that has been given? Sure, you can play the humble soul and say something like, “no, no, I really don’t deserve your praise.” But that doesn’t hand it back.

The compliments or praise have been laid on you and, barring a lengthy rebuttal providing adequate and accurate arguments about why you don’t deserve them, which no one will listen to, there they will remain on you in the eye of the beholder.

It’s not like a physical package. If someone tries to hand you a package, you don’t have to accept it. You can put your hands behind your back and let it drop if the deliverer relinquishes control of it. Or you can return it to the sender later if you have to make an initial examination before you can determine if it’s something that you want to accept.

But compliments and praise aren’t like that. They’re not physical goods so the words are going to slather onto you no matter what you do. And, as much as you may or may not wish otherwise, there is nothing tangible to return to the sender. You direct praise or compliments at him or her, but that’s not returning what was given to you. That’s reciprocating.

So, what, you may ask, is the point I am trying to make with this little diatribe on the notion of accepting compliments or praise? Damned if I know. I was hoping that I’d come up with a point after writing a few paragraphs, but it hasn’t happened yet. And it probably never will.

Please accept my apologies.

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