left-handed compliment


A compliment with two meanings, one of which is unflattering to the receiver: “The senator said that her opponent was quite competent for someone so inexperienced; you hear nothing but left-handed compliments in these debates.”

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ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PUNCTUATION QUIZ

Punctuation marks help make writing easy to read and understand. Some of the most important ones are the period (.), comma (,), question mark (?), and exclamation point (!). How well do you know how to use them? Find out in this quiz!
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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with left-handed compliment

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.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.