To clarify, what I'm seeking is a term that represents a speaker offering a backhanded compliment, in which the speaker is the only one that doesn't share this point of view.

Example: "Personally, I think you were hilarious -- even if you did ruin the entire event, cheated the children, and the rest of the world hates your guts ..."

I'd also be interested in different takes on the purposeful, yet shielded (cheeky) offense and a completely unintentional, clueless (friendly) offense.

  • 1
    I'd call this a snide remark.
    – Bookeater
    Jun 16, 2015 at 16:36
  • A sarcastic remark would be a good way to call it especially if the act is intentional
    – gelolopez
    Jun 16, 2015 at 16:51
  • 3
    You used the term backhanded compliment in describing your question. What's wrong with that?
    – ghoppe
    Jun 16, 2015 at 16:59
  • 3
    Apparently they're also called "Stealth Insults". My favorite has got to be Churchill's: 'It is said that I have called the honorable member a liar. It is true and I am sorry.'
    – Jim
    Jun 16, 2015 at 17:25
  • I think it's called the Mark Antony Effect.
    – bib
    Jun 16, 2015 at 18:22

2 Answers 2


I think the term you are looking for is called negging, although it is rather colloquial:

Negging is a rhetorical strategy whereby a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment or otherwise insulting remark to another person in order to undermine his or her confidence in a way that gains approval.

  • I'd say this is about as close as we can get to the "purposeful, yet shielded (cheeky) offense." It is rather colloquial but, it's possible we'll find unique, colloquial answers to this, everywhere (if any concept exists for it.) I do still like "ironic compliment" for the more unintentional occurrences.
    – Omnivore
    May 25, 2016 at 18:52

Insinuate (?) It doesn't fit in your sentence, but is maybe a start...

  • 2
    Insinuate refers to the act of suggesting something. It does not qualify to what the OP requires.
    – gelolopez
    Jun 16, 2015 at 16:50
  • 1
    Hi HimThere, welcome to EL&U! Your answer, in its current state is more like a comment (which you may not have sufficient permissions, yet, to post). An answer should directly answer the question and include cited resources. Please take the site tour to learn the best ways to participate here! english.stackexchange.com/tour Jun 16, 2015 at 18:05
  • 1
    Yeah - okay. I didn't even know this site existed this morning! Guess I've got some learning to do. Thanks Kristina!
    – HimThere
    Jun 16, 2015 at 18:34

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