Can I use the word "Congratulate" in reference to someone who is happy about their decision, but I disagree with it?
If a person I meet is (in my opinion) about to take the wrong job, marry the wrong person, or make another choice that they see as good, right, and happy, but I know will bring them pain later... can I really be happy for them, or congratulate them?
That was the question my wife and I pondered the other night. So I looked up the meaning of the word "Congratulate".
congratulation (n.) mid-15c., from Latin congratulationem (nominative congratulatio), noun of action from past participle stem of congratulari "wish joy," from com-"together, with" (see com-) + gratulari "give thanks, show joy," from gratus "agreeable" (see grace (n.)).
Congratulate (Dictionary.Com)verb (used with object), congratulated, congratulating.1. to express pleasure to (a person), as on a happy occasion: They congratulated him on his marriage.2. Archaic. to express sympathetic joy or satisfaction at (an event).3. Obsolete. to salute.
CONGRATULATE, v.t. [L., grateful, pleasing. See Grace.] To profess ones pleasure or joy to another on account of an event deemed happy or fortunate, as on the birth of a child, success in an enterprise, victory, escape from danger, &c.; to wish joy to another. We congratulate the nation on the restoration of peace.
Formerly this verb was followed by to. The subjects of England may congratulate to themselves. But this use of to is entirely obsolete. The use of with after this verb, I congratulate with my country, is perhaps less objectionable, but is rarely used. The intransitive sense of the verb may therefore be considered as antiquated, and no longer legitimate.
The word is build from parts. Con is originally "Com" as in "together, with" (see com-) + Gratulari "give thanks, show joy". I am coming together with you, and joining you in your joy.
So when presented with a card celebrating your marriage to a person you shouldn't have married... I'll simply write "May you be filled with the Wisdom and find Shalom"... or maybe just "Shalom! DW".