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 ?
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.
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.
It's a left-handed compliment, the president of Pressman Toy Corp.
Admittedly, it's nothing more than a left-handed compliment.