Have you ever received praise that felt more like an insult from someone? Sounds like a backhanded compliment, meaning a remark that seems to praise someone or something, but also implies a criticism or an insult. If someone says “You look great for your age”, they are complimenting your appearance but also suggesting that you are old.
A backhanded compliment is also sometimes called a “left-handed compliment”, owing its origin to the Latin word “sinistra”, meaning sinister in English. Back in the old times, left-handed people were considered unlucky, even malicious, leading to the phrase “left-handed compliment”.
Backhanded compliments are often used to express sarcasm, envy, or passive-aggressiveness. They can also be unintentional, resulting from ignorance, insensitivity, or poor word choice. Some people may use backhanded compliments to avoid direct confrontation or to manipulate others’ emotions. But they can also be seen as humorous, witty, or clever, depending on the context and the intention of the speaker.
Usage With Examples
Here’s how you can give…we mean, use the idiom “backhanded compliment” in a sentence:
- Her backhanded compliment about my weight made me feel insecure about my body.
- He thanked his boss for the backhanded compliment, saying, “I appreciate your feedback. I’m glad you noticed how hard I work, even though I’m not as experienced as the others.”
- She didn’t realize that she was giving him a backhanded compliment, saying, “You’re so funny. You always make me laugh with your silly jokes.”
Backhanded Compliment: Synonyms and Similar Words
Here are some words and phrases that have the same meaning as the idiom “backhanded compliment”:
- Left-handed compliment
- Home truth
- Slap in the face
- Uncomplimentary remark
Backhanded Compliment Meaning Quiz
Fill in the blank with the correct word or phrase to complete the sentence using the idiom “backhanded compliment”.
She gave me a _________ when she said that I was very good at math for someone who hated school.
The correct answer is B) slap.
We hope this blog was able to help you understand the idiom “backhanded compliment” meaning, its usage, and its synonyms. To learn more idioms like this, keep following Leverage Edu.