Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia.
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!
pay (one) a left-handed compliment
To insult or negatively criticize one in a manner that is disguised as or seems like a compliment or bit of praise. A: "Those pants really suit you—your legs don't look nearly as fat in them!" B: "Wow, talk about paying someone a left-handed compliment!" It's hard to tell when she's being sarcastic as a joke or when she's really just paying you a left-handed compliment.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
left-handed complimenta remark that is superficially complimentary but contains a strong element of adverse criticism.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017