backhanded compliment

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backhanded compliment

An insulting or negative comment disguised as praise. She said my new pants really make my legs look much slimmer. What a backhanded compliment!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

backhanded compliment

 and left-handed compliment
an unintended or ambiguous compliment. Backhanded compliments are the only kind he ever gives! And I think his left-handed compliments are all given by accident, too!
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

a backhanded compliment

1. A backhanded compliment is a remark which seems to be praising someone or something but which could also be understood as criticism. Saying she's improved comes over as a backhanded compliment. Reviewers gave the play the backhanded compliment that it was `surprisingly impressive'.
2. A backhanded compliment is a remark which seems to be criticizing someone or something but which could also be understood as praise. They were seen as the ones most in need of some culture. This was a backhanded compliment: it implied that they were capable of appreciating the highest works of art.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a ˌbackhanded ˈcompliment

(American English also a ˌleft-handed ˈcompliment) a remark that seems to express admiration but could also be understood as an insult: She told me that my essay was ‘surprisingly good’, which I thought was a backhanded compliment.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
The term lipstick lesbian was, I believe, coined in the early '90s, and as far as I'm concerned, it was an extremely backhanded compliment to lesbians from our friends in the media.
Admittedly, that's something of a backhanded compliment.
If The Nation at Risk is predicated on the fact that our loss of competitive position in the mid-'80s was due to teachers, well, that's a backhanded compliment, that the teachers are that important.
Maverick filmmaker John Walters pays her a backhanded compliment: 'At last, (there was) a female impersonator who dyed her hair orange, wore obviously false eyelashes and scary red lipstick at home, married a man of another race, got pregnant on television, hung out with her blue-collar neighbours, and ran away to pal around with Rock Hudson.
Whatever our interpretations of the katakana characters, it's clear that in using them the Wachowski brothers are delivering a backhanded compliment to the Japanese culture that has so influenced them.
Backhanded compliment is one of the few negative remarks in this largely hagiographic study.
prerequisite?" Perhaps as a backhanded compliment to Pollack's slam, Joe B.
In a backhanded compliment, the accolade for the best screen kiss was awarded to two women - Neve Campbell and Denise Richards in the movie Wild Things.
In letter 78 of The Citizen of the World, the Chinese Philosopher pays a backhanded compliment to French cuisine:
Summary: New Delhi (India), Aug 5 (ANI): Kajol who turned 45 on Monday received a backhanded compliment from hubby Ajay on her special day.
Ian McCall will hopefully take the backhanded compliment but a huge part of the success of his Ayr side this season has come in their uncompromising make-up.
Fully aware of van Dijk 's talents, the former Real Madrid winger, who has announced he will leave Bayern at the end of the season, offered something of a backhanded compliment when quizzed about the centre-back.
BACKHANDED COMPLIMENT Evra revealed that his former United pal Ronaldo does not like losing even at table tennis