pay (someone or something) a compliment

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pay (someone or something) a compliment

To give someone praise, especially for a specific accomplishment or trait. He paid the chef a compliment for the delicious soufflé. I don't really like it when people pay me a compliment for my appearance—I never know how to react.
See also: compliment, pay

pay a compliment

Express praise or commendation to someone, as in Meredith wanted to pay Christopher a compliment so she told him she liked his new haircut . This expression uses pay in the sense of "give something that is due." [c. 1700]
See also: compliment, pay
References in classic literature ?
"I will never pay you a compliment again, Miss Tulliver," said Stephen.
"I expect you to make yourself agreeable this time--I am going to pay you a compliment."