left-handed compliment

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left-handed compliment

An insulting or negative comment disguised as praise. She said my new pants really make my legs look much slimmer. What a left-handed compliment!
See also: 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

left-handed compliment, a

An expression of praise or admiration that is actually a faintly disguised insult or reproach. The association of lefthandedness with ambiguity or doubtfulness may come from the practice of the morganatic marriage ceremony (between royalty and a commoner who renounces all claim to the spouse’s title and property); in it the groom gave the bride his left hand instead of the right hand used in conventional marriage ceremonies.
References in periodicals archive ?
Jaitley has been fronting the government's defence of the external affairs minister in the wake of the Opposition demand for her resignation, therefore her reference to the finance minister left people wondering whether she was paying him a lefthanded compliment.