return the compliment

return the compliment

1. Literally, for one to give a compliment to the person who has given a compliment to one. I always feel the need to return the compliment when someone says something nice to me.
2. To reciprocate someone's actions. You helped me last week, so I'll return the compliment and do your filing. If Tiffany's the one who started that rumor about me, I'll just return the compliment with a rumor about her.
See also: compliment, return

return the compliment

 and return someone's compliment
to pay a compliment to someone who has paid you a compliment. Mary told me that my hair looked nice, so I returned her compliment and told her that her hair was lovely. When someone says something nice, it is polite to return the compliment.
See also: compliment, return

return the compliment

Also, return the favor. Repay someone in kind, as in Her political opponent came out with a smear campaign, and she returned the compliment. Neither the compliment nor the favor in this idiom is necessarily desirable. [First half of 1700s]
See also: compliment, return

return the compliment

1 give a compliment in return for another. 2 retaliate or respond in kind.
See also: compliment, return

reˌturn the ˈcompliment

do or say the same pleasant thing that somebody else has done or said to you: Thanks for a lovely meal. We’ll try and return the compliment very soon.
See also: compliment, return
References in classic literature ?
When Mrs Western was gone, Sophia, who had been hitherto silent, as well indeed from necessity as inclination, began to return the compliment which her father had made her, in taking her part against her aunt, by taking his likewise against the lady.
Nay, even when Mr Tappertit, excited by liquor, came up, and in assertion of his prerogative politely kicked John Willet on the shins, Hugh bade him return the compliment; and if old John had had sufficient presence of mind to understand this whispered direction, and to profit by it, he might no doubt, under Hugh's protection, have done so with impunity.
Mr Elliot appeared to think that he (Sir Walter) was looking exactly as he had done when they last parted;" but Sir Walter had "not been able to return the compliment entirely, which had embarrassed him.
"I can honestly return the compliment. You look perfectly ravishing."
I doubt whether he will return the compliment, and discover her to be a lady.
Now, Miss Squeers being five years older, and out of her teens (which is also a great matter), had, since, been more than commonly anxious to return the compliment, and possess her friend with a similar secret; but, either in consequence of finding it hard to please herself, or harder still to please anybody else, had never had an opportunity so to do, inasmuch as she had no such secret to disclose.
For I know that all pretty young gentlemen like to have pretty similes made about them--as well they may--but I shall not return the compliment. As to my being a torpedo, if the torpedo is torpid as well as the cause of torpidity in others, then indeed I am a torpedo, but not otherwise; for I perplex others, not because I am clear, but because I am utterly perplexed myself.
I shall call you 'Arnold.' You mus'n't return the compliment and call me 'Patrick,' mind--I'm too old to be treated in that way.
He then bared his bosom for me to return the compliment, which being done, he seemed highly pleased.
Smouch to produce; for while Sam, anxious to return the compliment, was grinding that gentleman's body against the door-post, the principal crept past, and made his way to the bar, whither Sam, after bandying a few epithetical remarks with Mr.
When people who live in the country patronize public amusements, public amusements return the compliment by upsetting the family afterward for days together.
The two discoverers stare at the Smallweeds, who return the compliment.
Asked if he would return the compliment to Bottas if, as is now expected, he wraps up the title with races to spare, Hamilton said: "I'd have no problems with that.
THE victory parade gave the British people the opportunity to say thank you to our Olympians and Paralympians - and the athletes their chance to return the compliment.
Many Reds fans would love to return the compliment by helping press Hodgson's claims for another job which is way beyond him.