Archive for March 16th, 2011

March 16, 2011

Backhanded compliment

A backhanded compliment is nothing you necessarily want to get: it is a compliment that also insults at the same time or saying it the other way around: an insult that masquerades as a compliment.

A backhanded compliment might first fool you into thinking you received a real compliment but it is a deliberate and rather subtle way to disguise an insult.  Sometimes backhanded compliments are not intentional but generally the term applies to the intentional use of a disguised insult.

Here are a few examples:

Classical backhanded compliment, pic:

“You are sure smarter than you look.”

“I love you new haircut, it slims your face a lot.”

“Long skirts look good on you, they hide your calves.”

“You drive very well, for a woman.”

“Your son is more handsome than I would have expected.

In each case there is a compliment that immediately gets negated by an implied criticism, namely that a person is stupid, her face is too wide or her legs to thick, she can’t drive or his parents are ugly.

Another term meaning the same thing is left-handed compliment.  Traditional the left hand has had sinister connotations and therefore a left-handed compliment is one that is devious.

Not a very politically correct expression now that we don’t discriminate against “lefties” anymore.

March 16, 2011

Friends with Benefits

Just friends or friends with benefits? Pic: © Dmitry Fisher |

With this expression we are venturing into youth talk and into somewhat risque territory. Although certainly an expression used more by younger people it is good to understand what it means, even if you don’t plan to add any friends with benefits to your life any time soon.

So, anyway, friends with benefits are friends, often rather good friends, who have casual sex with each other without being emotionally involved and without being in a relationship and without serious commitment.  The latter point is the crucial one: the FWB relationships may or may not be monogamous but unlike in   “real” romantic relationship there is no commitment and no long-term prospects.

The other defining element is the friendship between the two people which differentiates FWB relationships from NSA (no strings attached) one night stands.

This is probably not an American phenomenon but this relatively young expression has shown up in American pop culture since the early 2000s.