felicitate , congratulate : The distinction in the meanings of these words should be carefully noted. To felicitate is to pronounce one happy and in the strict sense, applies to self alone; congratulate is to wish joy to another. In recent years congratulate has been applied to one's self, and felicitate to another; thus the application of the meanings of these words have been reversed by careless usage.

Trench says, “When I congratulate a person (congratulor ) I declare that I am sharer in his joy, that what has rejoiced him has rejoiced me also.” Gratulation, does not signify participation, and therefore, is a mere felicitation (or admission of existing happiness or cause for happiness) addressed to another.