damn with faint praise

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damn with faint praise (third-person singular simple present damns with faint praise, present participle damning with faint praise, simple past and past participle damned with faint praise)

  1. (idiomatic) To provide praise that is minimal or inconsequential, implying that such praise is the best that could be said.
    • 1735, Alexander Pope, Epistle to Doctor Arbuthnot:
      Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
      And without sneering teach the rest to sneer.
    • 1887, Donn Piatt, Memories of the Men who Saved the Union, page 296:
      The patronizing manner in which the hero of Nashville is damned with faint praise would amuse were it not so exasperating.
    • 1917, Lucy Maud Montgomery, "The Alpine Path: The Story Of My Career" in Everywoman's World:
      Four of them returned it with a cold, printed note of rejection; one of them “damned with faint praise.” They wrote that “Our readers report that they find some merit in your story, but not enough to warrant its acceptance.”
    • 2010 Nov. 16, Maureen Dowd, "The Way They Were," New York Times (retrieved 6 Oct 2013):
      And then, finally, when W. could avoid it no longer, he mentioned Vice, damning with faint praise: “Dick Cheney’s advice was consistent and strong.”

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