See also: back-handed compliment
- (idiomatic) An insult disguised as a compliment; a compliment which can be interpreted as an insult.
1914, Edgar Rice Burroughs, chapter 17, in Tarzan of the Apes:
- [H]e respects your great learning, and, therefore, has immense confidence in your judgment. The poor dear cannot differentiate between erudition and wisdom."
- [I]n his mind he was revolving the question of whether he should feel complimented or aggrieved at Miss Porter's rather backhanded compliment.
- 1998 June 29, w:Jere Longman, "World Cup '98: Dutch Fans Are Orange (Hair, Dresses, Clogs and Faces) With Envy," New York Times (retrieved 7 Oct 2013):
- Perhaps, finally, the Netherlands will shed itself of the backhanded compliment of being the best team never to win a world championship.
- 2009 Feb. 4, Robert Chew, "A Madoff Whistle-Blower Tells His Story," Time (retrieved 7 Oct 2013):
- In a backhanded compliment, Markopolos said the SEC is a "bad regulator, but the best of a very sorry lot."
insult disguised as a compliment