1. adjective [ADJ n] A backhanded compliment is a remark which seems to be an insult but could also be understood as a compliment. A backhanded compliment is also a remark which seems to be a compliment but could also be understood as an insult. ⇒ 'Even my good reviews have tended to be back-handed compliments,' he says. 'They'll say I was good and "almost unbearably grotesque".'. ⇒ Saying she's improved comes over as a backhanded compliment. 2. graded adjective & adjective [ADJ n] If you say that someone is doing something in a backhanded way, they are doing it indirectly. [disapproval] ⇒ In a backhanded way, I think a lot of my energy and strength comes from my campaigning.
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