Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms.
1. Sports Made with or using a backhand: a backhanded shot into the opponent's court.
2. Oblique or roundabout: "Maybe [avant-garde novels'] frustrating lack of plot is a backhanded tribute to plots" (Harvey Cox).
3. Having derogatory or insulting implications: "Everyone...said how wonderful, how glamorous she looked, but even that was a sort of backhanded compliment, with the unspoken addendum, for your age" (Freda Warrington).
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.