Its literal translation is "praise be to God" but many Muslims will use the term in situations where they want to say "thanks to God". It is just a cultural nuance. It is a kind of indirect humbleness that after any achievement, instead of self-praise, terminology praising God is used in conversation.
The word الحمد has a very complex and deep meaning. Al-hamdu is only for الله. That's why there is ل for al-istihqaaq, which means "only belong to".
Just "Praise" is not enough to describe Al hamdu. Praise is one of the closest word from English, but is still not equivalent. So, we should be careful when we make a joke. It may hurt someone feeling that understand the meaning :))