The dictionary defines praise as being the act of expressing approval of admiration. I think it even goes a little deeper than that. I believe that praise is honoring a person, or a group of people, to someone else. I also think it can mean to personally give thanks to someone for what they have done. For the most part, this seems to agree with the dictionary.
A simple example of this would be for me to tell you how great my wife is: My wife is an excellent mother to our children, she’s an outstanding Bible scholar, and a gifted musician. In this example I am honoring her with my comments to you; the listener.
Another example of praise might be for me to thank my wife for something she has done; Thank you, sweetheart, for doing such an excellent job of raising our children, or Tonight’s dinner was superb. Thank you for doing such a fantastic job. The key ingredient to praise is giving honor for doing a task (past, present, or future). The other distinction of praise is that the person receiving the praise doesn’t have to be present to receive honor in this way. They can be, but it’s not necessary.
Praise, because it is a proclamation of honor, tends to be a very public thing. Praise can have a lot of fanfare and excitement associated with it. An awards ceremony or a victory parade are good examples of this at its best. At these events there is usually a tremendous amount of visual and audible expression (throwing confetti, waving signs, honking horns, people doing back flips, loud music, shouting, applause, and sometimes even tears of happiness). Even when praise is expressed at a more personal level, it can still have this type of outward expression (shouting, or maybe even doing a little jig in the living room). Praise can be so much fun.
One of the most unique things about praising God is that it actually contains power. The very act of proclaiming the praise of God to each other, the world, or into the supernatural world has the potential to do miraculous, supernatural things - and thats another subject all together.
There is definitely a time and place for praise and for praising God.