damn with faint praise, to(redirected from to damn with faint praise)
damn someone or something with faint praise
Fig. to criticize someone or something indirectly by not praising enthusiastically. The critic did not say that he disliked the play, but he damned it with faint praise. Mrs. Brown is very proud of her son's achievements, but damns her daughter's with faint praise.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
damn with faint praise
Compliment so feebly that it amounts to no compliment at all, or even implies condemnation. For example, The reviewer damned the singer with faint praise, admiring her dress but not mentioning her voice . This idea was already expressed in Roman times by Favorinus (c. a.d. 110) but the actual expression comes from Alexander Pope's Epistle to Doctor Arbuthnot (1733): "Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, and, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer."
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.
damn with faint praise, to
To compliment so slightly that it amounts to no compliment at all, or even the reverse, a condemnation. The Roman writer Favorinus said, about a.d. 110, that it is more shameful to be praised faintly and coldly than to be censured violently. The practice was taken up early on, especially by literary critics. The classic quotation is from Alexander Pope’s Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot (1733). In poking fun at the critic Joseph Addison, here called Atticus, Pope said he would “Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, and, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer.” See also left-handed compliment.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer