Tag Archives: sinister

Left-handed Compliment / Backhanded Compliment

What was said? “I’m curious how the presentation will turn out because you are soooo detailed, and our other colleague is bigger picture.” To which I said “I think that’s a left-handed compliment” and immediately had to look it up!

Did someone really say that? Yes, when developing a pitch for a new client, someone said that to me and I replied with the idiom!

What does it mean? It basically is an insult disguised as a compliment! Another example: “Your haircut really slims your face.”

Origin: Back in the day, to be left-handed was considered negative in many parts of the world. In Latin, the word “sinistra” translated to “left” but actually became to mean deceitful or unlucky and is the origin of the English word “sinister.”

Some other research suggests that in the olden days, people would shake hands with their right hands to show that they were unarmed. Someone who was left-handed would still shake with their right hand, but then attack with their left being devious and deceitful.

Thankfully, we have moved beyond thinking those who are left-handed are trying to trick us, and we now know that some of the most creative/successful people in the world are left-handed, such as: Barack Obama, Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Babe Ruth, Napoleon Bonaparte, Leonardo DiVinci, Aristotle, Steve Jobs, Jimi Hendrix and more.


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Filed under Business Sayings, Idiom, Idioms, Phrases, Sayings