Backhanded compliment

A backhanded compliment or left-handed compliment or is an insult disguised as a compliment. It is generally used to belittle or condescend, or often one uses a backhanded compliment when one wants to insult someone in a subtle way. [ [http://www.joe-ks.com/phrases/phrasesB.htm Phrases. Clichs, Expressions & Sayings @ joe-ks.com ] ]

Usage

An example of a backhanded compliment would be to tell a woman "I like your dress very much. It does wonders for your figure." This statement would seem on the surface to compliment the woman's choice in clothing, and perhaps even her figure, but closer examination reveals its true meaning: that the woman's figure is unattractive and needs improvement from clothing. This statement is not a compliment to the woman, but to the garment's ability to slenderize.

Sometimes a backhanded compliment is obvious, combining an obvious compliment with an equally obvious insult. For example, one might say "You are an excellent artist, which is a relief considering what an incompetent cook you are!" In this way no part of the intent is made less obvious, but the severity of the insult may still be lessened enough to make the entire statement "seem" like a compliment.

Backhanded compliments are not always intentional. The speaker may intend to pay a compliment, but in so doing accidentally reveal uncomplimentary feelings. For example, on the August 22, 2007 episode of "The Daily Show", guest Barack Obama responded to the question of whether there were any Republicans he could agree with by saying "I think some of these folks are decent people," to which Jon Stewart responded with "Worst backhanded compliment ever."Fact|date=June 2008

Other examples: "I want to be just like you when I get old"; "You're not as dumb as I thought."

ee also

*Irony

References


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • backhanded compliment — {n. phr.} A remark that sounds like a compliment but is said sarcastically. * / Not had for a girl the coach said, offering a backhanded compliment./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • backhanded compliment — {n. phr.} A remark that sounds like a compliment but is said sarcastically. * / Not had for a girl the coach said, offering a backhanded compliment./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • backhanded compliment —    A remark that appears to express admiration but could also be interpreted as an insult is called a backhanded compliment.     He said my presentation was surprisingly clear . How s that for a backhanded compliment! …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • backhanded\ compliment — n. phr. A remark that sounds like a compliment but is said sarcastically. Not had for a girl the coach said, offering a backhanded compliment …   Словарь американских идиом

  • backhanded compliment — noun An insult disguised as a compliment …   Wiktionary

  • backhanded compliment — sarcastic praise, double edged compliment …   English contemporary dictionary

  • (a) backhanded compliment — a ˌbackhanded ˈcompliment idiom (NAmE also ˌleft handed ˈcompliment) a remark that seems to express admiration but could also be understood as an insult Main entry: ↑backhandedidiom …   Useful english dictionary

  • Backhanded — Back hand ed, a. 1. With the hand turned backward; as, a backhanded blow. [1913 Webster] 2. Indirect; awkward; insincere; sarcastic; as, a backhanded compliment. [1913 Webster] 3. Turned back, or inclining to the left; as, backhanded letters.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • backhanded — [bak′han΄did] adj. 1. BACKHAND 2. expressing or expressed in an indirect or sarcastic way; not sincere; equivocal [a backhanded compliment] 3. Sports performed by backhanding the ball [a backhanded catch] adv. with a backhand …   English World dictionary

  • backhanded — ► ADJECTIVE 1) made with the back of the hand facing in the direction of movement. 2) indirect or ambiguous: a backhanded compliment …   English terms dictionary

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