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
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

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.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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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.
My lefthanded compliment: Thank you for showing us the human face of evil, for showing us that evil is indeed abroad in the land.
However, film history often has given him the lefthanded compliment of simply being a great "craftsman.' Auteur status more readily is apparent if one focuses upon a single genre, such as an Alfred Hitchcock thriller or a John Ford Western....
However, film history often has given him the lefthanded compliment of simply being a great "craftsman." Auteur status more readily is apparent if one focuses upon a single genre, such as an Alfred Hitchcock thriller or a John Ford Western, but Wise's themes and characters are the same in most of his pictures: an often noirish world (even his musicals feature street gangs and Nazis); a positive handful struggle against a boorish mob; championing the often melodramatic plight of women and minorities; questioning the military; showcasing the domestic collateral damage that accompanied even the "good war" (World War II), and characters frying to do the right thing--even if it is pointless.