- performed with the hand turned backward, crosswise, or in any oblique direction so that the palm of the hand faces in the direction of the body and the back of the hand faces in the direction of forward movement.
- sloping in a downward direction from left to right: backhanded writing.
- oblique or ambiguous in meaning; indirect; insincere or malicious; wry: backhanded methods; a backhanded compliment.
- Ropemaking. noting a rope in which the yarns and the strands are laid in the same direction, the rope itself being laid in the opposite direction.
- with the hand across the body; backhand: He caught the ball backhanded.
Origin of backhanded
- a stroke, slap, etc., made with the palm of the hand turned toward the body and the back of the hand turned in the direction of the stroke, slap, etc.
- (in tennis, squash, etc.) a stroke made from the side of the body opposite to that of the hand holding the racket, paddle, etc.
- handwriting that slopes toward the left.
- with the back of the hand: He hit him backhand across the face.
- from across the body; backhanded: She returned the ball backhand on the first serve.
- to strike with the back of the hand.
- to hit, produce, or accomplish with a backhand.
- to catch (a ball or the like) backhanded.
Origin of backhand
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for backhanded
Completing the motion, Howe pulled the puck back to his own left and backhanded it hard into the open side of the net.Gordie Howe Hockey’s Greatest War Horse
May 31, 2014
Shawn sat up to say something, and he hauled off and backhanded her across the face.The Strange and Mysterious Death of Mrs. Jerry Lee Lewis
Richard Ben Cramer
January 11, 2014
I realized that the very narrowness of my complaints was backhanded evidence of the enormous amount that the film gets right.Revisiting Lincoln
December 18, 2012
In his heyday, Richards had an eerily clinical and meticulous approach to drug use, a backhanded compliment to be sure.Cavalcade of Bad Boy Flameouts
March 4, 2011
For these women, “crazy” is a backhanded compliment, a path on the road to fame.Crazy Chick Flicks
January 31, 2011
“I sympathize with you,” he said by way of backhanded congratulation.Joan of Arc of the North Woods
Whatever this might mean, it was, at best, a backhanded compliment to Hartigan.The Preacher of Cedar Mountain
Ernest Thompson Seton
Glyddyr turned upon him, and made a backhanded blow at his face.King of the Castle
George Manville Fenn
A backhanded compliment of the acutest nature is credited to Lincoln as a lawyer and gentleman.The Lincoln Story Book
Henry L. Williams
Lake slapped him across the mouth with a backhanded blow that snapped his head back on his shoulders and split his lip.Space Prison
- (of a blow, shot, stroke, etc) performed with the arm moving across the body
- double-edged; equivocala backhanded compliment
- (of handwriting) slanting to the left
- (of a rope) twisted in the opposite way to the normal right-handed direction
- in a backhanded manner
- a stroke made across the body with the back of the hand facing the direction of the stroke
- (as modifier)a backhand return
- the side on which backhand strokes are made
- handwriting slanting to the left
- with a backhand stroke
- sport to play (a shot) backhand
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for backhanded
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper