“Extol”: When Simple Praise Isn’t Enough

The verb “extol” packs a punch. It means to praise enthusiastically and highly. While words like “praise,” “commend,” and “applaud” convey positive sentiments, “extol” carries a sense of almost extravagant admiration.

When to Use “Extol”

Here’s when “extol” fits perfectly:

  • Exceptional Achievements: When someone accomplishes something truly remarkable, “extol” captures the level of recognition deserved. For example: “The critics extolled the playwright’s masterful new work.”
  • Virtues and Ideals: We can extol qualities like bravery, kindness, or selflessness to emphasize their profound importance. For instance: “The speaker extolled the virtues of compassion and understanding.”
  • Historical Figures or Revered Works: When discussing figures of great historical significance or beloved artistic creations, “extol” conveys their enduring impact. Example: “Generations of scholars have extolled the brilliance of Shakespeare’s sonnets.”

When “Extol” Might Be Too Much

There are times when “extol” may feel over-the-top:

  • Everyday Actions: Extolling someone for completing routine tasks can sound excessive. Instead of “The team extolled Sarah for her excellent email organization,” consider a simpler “The team thanked Sarah for her excellent email organization.”
  • Insincere Praise: If the praise doesn’t feel genuine, “extol” will likely sound forced or sarcastic.
  • Self-Promotion: Extolling your own virtues and accomplishments often comes across as boastful.

Alternatives to Consider

Depending on the context, consider these alternatives:

  • Praise: A general term for positive feedback.
  • Commend: Express approval and respect.
  • Celebrate: Show enthusiasm for an accomplishment or event.
  • Admire: Express respect and warm approval.
  • Applaud: Show enthusiastic approval

The Right Word for the Right Moment

“Extol” is a powerful tool for conveying high praise. By understanding its nuances and when to use it judiciously, your language will become more precise and expressive.

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