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One of the definitions of aggrandize provided by The New Penguin English Dictionary (1986) is, “1 to give a false air of greatness to; praise highly.”

Separating the “…give false air…” from “praise highly” with only a semicolon rather than making them each a separate numbered definition, suggests that the two are part of a single thought. I don’t understand that.

Not all high praise is false. In some cases, the air of greatness that comes from high praise is justified. So, my question is, does aggrandizing necessarily involve exaggeration or not?

I just checked the dictionary bundled with Max OS X. It suggests that exaggeration is a necessary part of the definition. It doesn’t have a separate “praise highly” phrase. Instead, it says that to aggrandize is to “enhance the reputation of (someone) beyond what is justified by the facts.”

I’m glad we cleared that up. Don’t let that definition stop you from aggrandizing me if you feel the urge to do so. My low self-esteem won’t allow me to believe your false assertions of my greatness for more than a couple of seconds, but I enjoy tricking myself into believing the compliments for at least those brief moments.

Both of my dictionaries offer a second definition of aggrandize, which is to increase the wealth, power or status of someone or something. Feel free to do whatever it takes to aggrandize me in this way as well, particularly the wealth part. Thank you very much.

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