left-handed compliment

left-handed compliment

Also, backhanded compliment. An insult in the guise of an expression of praise. For example, She said she liked my hair, but it turned out to be a left-handed compliment when she asked how long I'd been dyeing it . This expression uses left-handed in the sense of "questionable or doubtful," a usage dating from about 1600.
See also: compliment

left-handed compliment

a remark that is superficially complimentary but contains a strong element of adverse criticism.
See also: compliment
References in periodicals archive ?
Parties claiming to place women on equal pedestal with men often end up giving left-handed compliment to the fair sex with disparaging remarks against them.
In a left-handed compliment to the PSC Chair, Romasanta said 'the effort made by Ramirez was laudable' although it could not have changed Vargas' situation.
Three hankies, a busted gut and an altered perspective later, in the lobby I paid the troupe the left-handed compliment that is the common curse of this startling genre: Surely, I wondered, they had decided on storylines and characters beforehand?
In his report, Harmon had a final left-handed compliment for the attorneys in Goss v.
The best I could ever do in that department was when my better half observed, and this is the ultimate left-handed compliment, that I was "friendly with everyone and friends with no one.
It may seem a left-handed compliment to say The Industry Standard was by far the best and most professional of this lot, but I mean it sincerely.
None can top the New York Times' classic left-handed compliment that describes him as "arguably the most important intellectual alive" only to qualify that "his political writings are maddeningly simple-minded.
Consider it a left-handed compliment to Brito and, indirectly, to Fernando.
For the time being, Dixon pays Duffy the left-handed compliment of letting him get on with it.
Their working title, "Variazioni," prompted a left-handed compliment from the dedicatee to Dallapiccola: "The idea of writing variations for voice is extremely original and very promising.
That's not a left-handed compliment, it's just that the book is paperback-sized.
Admittedly, it's nothing more than a left-handed compliment.
Sacramento Bee cartoonist Dennis Renault's previously debated drawing of a Ku Klux Klansman using the word "nigger" in a left-handed compliment to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan was held up again with arguments on both sides.
That paragon of still-life painting, Giorgio Morandi, sheds light on Luz, when we recall the Italian's spindly and fluted bottles, pepper mills and flasks, pitchers and bowls, which, according to American critic Max Kozloff, in a left-handed compliment, have nothing to support except his sensibility-a mode of seeing, a way of touching paint onto canvas, his counterpointed little groupings, a preference for certain colors within a very restricted range.
It could be a left-handed compliment because of his inclusive ways.