Idiom:  a pat on the back


Idiom:  a pat on the back

  • praise or approval for doing something good

Notes:  What's a pat?  A pat is a quick and gentle touch using the hand.

The idiom is often used with the verbs give or get (the past tense of these verbs are irregular: give/gave and get/got). 

This idiom does not mean that a person physically gives or receives a pat. It's merely the idea of praising or recognizing someone for doing something good.

Example sentences

— Don’t expect a pat on the back every time you do something right.

— I got a nice pat on the back for the newsletter article I wrote.

— Everyone should give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done.

— My mom always gives my dad a pat on the back whenever he does any housework.

— I was hoping for a promotion but all I got was a pat on the back.

— If you're hoping to even get a pat on the back then you've joined the wrong company.

— My parents never gave me any praise, not even a pat on the back when I was valedictorian of my high school.

— I was expecting a shout out or a pat on the back but no one recognized it was my connection that helped us get this million dollar contract.

— I was psyched to get a pat on the back for my work on the project. I worked overtime every day last week on it.

— I think you deserved more than a pat on the back for donating your van to the school. 

— Our manager gives us a pat on the back for everything. It does help morale.

 Give yourself a pat on the back! It doesn’t matter if anyone else noticed your kindness.


  • pat on the head
  • sing sb's praises
  • pay tribute
  • rave over

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