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See also: back-handed



From back +‎ hand + -ed


  • IPA(key): /ˈbækˌhændəd/
  • (file)


backhanded (comparative more backhanded, superlative most backhanded)

  1. With the back of the hand.
    • 2010, Byrna Barclay & Jack Hodgins, The Forest Horses: A Novel, →ISBN, page 178:
      The trader roars like an animal whose paw has been caught in a trap, but he hauls back his other arm and lands a backhanded blow to the side of her head that knocks her sideways onto the babushki bench.
  2. Involving a backward flip of the hand.
    • 2014, Rick Kustich, Advanced Fly Fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead, →ISBN, page 42:
      Some casters can do a cross-body or backhanded cast quite effectively.
    • 2009, Facts On File, Incorporated, Winning Softball for Girls, →ISBN, page 139:
      With your palm facing down, your wrist snaps forward. This is the same type of motion used for the backhanded change-up.
  3. Insincere, sarcastic, ironic, or self-contradictory.
    • 2007, Mark Wiskup, The It Factor: Be the One People Like, Listen To, and Remember, →ISBN, page 116:
      Don't mistake this for even a backhanded compliment; that at least takes a wry sense of imagination. This is a patronizing compliment, which is worse than no compliment at all.
    • 2006, Stuart Brown & N. J. Fox, Historical Dictionary of Leibniz's Philosophy, →ISBN, page 202:
      He sometimes paid Descartes the backhanded compliment—backhanded because it detracted from the Frenchman's much-vaunted originality— of suggesting that his major achievement was to restore the study of Plato.
    • 2002, Larry Oakner, And Now a Few Laughs from Our Sponsor: The Best of Fifty Years of Radio Commercials, →ISBN:
      Radio Savant wrote two other commercials filled with sarcasm, one of them entitled "Apology." In it, announcer Morris offers a backhanded apology that allows him to say ...."
    • 2008, R. Richard Kingsbury, The Eighteen-Year-Old Replacement: Facing Combat in Patton's Third Army, →ISBN, page 104:
      But on this particular occasion I was fired on as an individual by an entire battery of enemy artillery, and for some odd and backhanded reason I felt important.
  4. Indirect.
    • 1988, Thomas F. Glick, The Comparative Reception of Darwinism, →ISBN, page 479:
      Only in grade 5 is he mentioned and in this backhanded way: "George Darwin, son of the famous English scientist, Charles Darwin." . . . But for what is Charles Darwin famous? You won't find it in the California elementary science textbooks.
    • 2002, Sara Miles, How to Hack a Party Line: The Democrats and Silicon Valley, →ISBN, page 233:
      ClickStart could be seen as a backhanded way of admitting that, to date, the Internet had done exceedingly well by white people as compared to black;
  5. Backwards, turned around.
    • 2000, Margaret Elphinstone, The Sea Road, →ISBN, page 98:
      No one ever believed that Leif meant any harm, but all the luck he brought was backhanded.
    • 1920, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Volume 10:
      ... it joins Clark fork twenty miles farther on, at the second apex of a sharp backhanded turn or zigzag by which this river shifts from one northwestward course to another...
    • 1944, Clifford Warren Ashley, The Ashley Book of Knots, page 310:
      In America today, most Wire Eye Splices are made backhanded.
  6. (of writing) inclining to the left
    • 1907, The Official Report of the Trial of Charles Louis Tucker for the Murder of Mabel Page: In the Superior Court of Massachusetts, Volume 1:
      In this particular instance the writing begins backhanded, and there is a reversion to the right-handed type, -- an unconscious reversion, which makes me think that is the natural method of writing;
  7. Retrospective, occurring after the fact rather than in advance.
    • 1869, Great Britain Parliament House of Commons, House of Commons Papers - Volume 9, page 134:
      ...but that is really a backhanded rent, because I have sold all the produce of my farm six months before I am called upon to pay the last six months' rent.
    • 2006, Ebrahim Moosa, Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination, →ISBN, page 196:
      The Mutazilīs, in a counterpolemic, allege that the argument advanced by the Asharīs is implicitly a backhanded and retrospective way of imputing heresy to the early community of believers.
  8. Self-serving, corrupt, slipshod, or neglectful.
    • 2005, David J. Libby, Paul Spickard, & Susan Ditto, Affect and Power: Essays on Sex, Slavery, Race, and Religion, →ISBN, page 170:
      Perhaps omitting Weber from footnotes is intended to avenge his backhanded treatment of the American Puritans (and by extension their academic champions), whom he virtually ignored—albeit with unhappy consequences for his own work.
    • 1998, Daniel W. Rossides, Social Theory: Its Origins, History, and Contemporary Relevance, →ISBN, page 178:
      His backhanded way of analyzing values means that there could be no systematic treatment of the functional consequences for behavior of specific ideas, values, and idea-value complexes.
    • 2010, Wayne Berry, The Guesthouse, →ISBN, page 48:
      We never expected to have to shred their personal lives, their greedy excesses, their nefarious, backhanded business dealings for their own personal gain in front of the public that had placed them on their pedestals.

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Derived terms[edit]




  1. simple past tense and past participle of backhand


backhanded (comparative more backhanded, superlative most backhanded)

  1. In a backhanded manner.
    • 2008, Maclean J. Storer, Forward O Peasant, →ISBN, page 279:
      As the man crumpled forward, Snow took a further step with his right foot and brought the pole down backhanded with all his power into the right side of the man's head.
    • 2010, Ivano Franco Comelli, La Nostra Costa (Our Coast): A Family's Journey to and from the North Coast of Santa Cruz, California (1923-1983), →ISBN, page 58:
      Then with her curved hand knife, she proceeded to clean the selected sprouts, flipping them backhanded into the top crate on her left when done.

See also[edit]