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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

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.
See also: compliment, pay
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
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 compliment

a remark that is superficially complimentary but contains a strong element of adverse criticism.
See also: compliment
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
The measurements of the both auricles of righthanded subjects and the measurements of both auricles of the lefthanded subjects were compared in Table IV Both auricles of the righthanded subjects were statistically significantly different except EL; the values of AL and TIN were higher at the left side and all other measurements had higher values at the right side.
In a postmortem study, it was found that a lefthanded's brain had a bigger corpus callosum, which means the interaction between the two brain hemispheres was more active, hence the higher flexibility in thinking.
The general question concerning lefthanded batters remains: Was Yankee Stadium, compared with the other AL parks, 1923-73, a better hitter's park as measured by batting average?
In a subsequent study of almost 1,900 college students reported in the American Journal of Public Health, Coren and Halpern noted that the lefthanded are more likely to injure themselves.
In lefthanded persons, the right cerebral hemisphere takes the lead in functions like speaking, reading and writing.
Handwriting experts and politicians believe there is a failure to recognise the difficulties encountered by lefthanded youngsters which can hamper their development.
Supporting Luka is Dominic Dunn, the hotly tipped 16-yearold singer/songwriter and lefthanded guitarist from Kirkdale.
In the past being lefthanded was seen as a bad omen.
Catlin, who would not have the same sort of selection of rides at the other Sussex venue as his colleague, will be out for July 27, 29 and 30 for allowing Mandhooma to "drift lefthanded into the whip for a considerable period" in the 3663 First For Food Service Handicap.
A TOP academic has called for lefthanded kids to get more exam help - because they struggle to write as neatly, or as fast, as right-handed pupils.
The 27-year-old has failed to win back-toback matches at any tournament this year and lost in the first round in two grass warm-up events - although one of those was admittedly against Roger Federer - but his big lefthanded serve was causing Djokovic unexpected problems.
Fernando Verdasco will be reigning champion Rafael Nadal's fourth consecutive lefthanded opponent after he beat 15th seed Mikhail Youzhny in a hard-fought, third-round match.
8 Only three lefthanded golfers have ever won a Major title.
"Ronnie is the best player in the world at the moment, right-handed, lefthanded, one-legged, one-armed, whatever you want," said Hendry.
However, similarities are remarkable, as it contains the characteristics of a lefthanded brushstroke, consistent with ea Vinci's sty e as a southpaw artist.