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 classic literature ?
Philander, with a mildly puzzled expression on his face, turned to pursue Professor Porter, and in his mind he was revolving the question of whether he should feel complimented or aggrieved at Miss Porter's rather backhanded compliment.
Daggers of sarcasm are drawn and bombs of backhanded compliments assembled so that they may be launched effectively and rapidly as one makes one's way through the scrum of 'close' relations and fake friends.
Sweary critiques include "This is just a s*** hipster Wetherspoons", to backhanded compliments such as "Come to BrewDog, there are relatively few w*** here for a Saturday".
From all the backhanded compliments about spoiling tactics, parking the bus and smothering Liverpool's front five, you would have thought Manchester United reneged on a promise to go gung-ho and get picked off by prior arrangement.
Now, I have heard worse backhanded compliments, but does Kelly have a point?
In fact, this practice is so mainstream that there's a new set of backhanded compliments which are, in reality, meant to wound.
Melbourne, August 7 ( ANI ): Jennifer Anniston has revealed that she hates backhanded compliments of being told that she looks great "for her age".
On the plus side, TMZ reported that the ( arresting officers said that Giovinazzo was "one of the nicest people they've ever arrested," apparently embracing the notion of backhanded compliments in the process.
Incredulous, dramatic, backhanded compliments are W.'s specialty, although he does not limit himself stylistically when commenting on Lars and their friendship.
Nor did she lace her prose with backhanded compliments to her own virtuous self-sacrifice.
Descriptions like 'wholehearted' and 'consistent' can be backhanded compliments, implying a lack of bite or craft in a sportsman.
The 26-year-old says that when she does get spotted by fans, they usually offer her backhanded compliments.
While repeatedly ladling out backhanded compliments about how brave Douglas was in undertaking such a mammoth production, Fast bristles with prickly criticisms of everything from Douglas" one-dimensional exhibitionism as an actor to the film's historical dubiousness; writer also points out that the Communist Party, and Trumbo himself, had been among his book's most strident detractors.
The French have previous for being gallant losers who congratulate British cyclists with backhanded compliments.
And Arsene Wenger's programme notes - full of attempts to crank up the pressure on Claudio Ranieri's title-race gatecrashers which should actually be viewed as backhanded compliments - said it all.