Backhanded



performed with the hand turned backward, crosswise, or in any oblique direction so that the palm of the hand faces in the direction of the body and the back of the hand faces in the direction of forward movement.
sloping in a downward direction from left to right:
backhanded writing.
oblique or ambiguous in meaning; indirect; insincere or malicious; wry:
backhanded methods; a backhanded compliment.
Ropemaking. noting a rope in which the yarns and the strands are laid in the same direction, the rope itself being laid in the opposite direction.
with the hand across the body; backhand:
He caught the ball backhanded.
a stroke, slap, etc., made with the palm of the hand turned toward the body and the back of the hand turned in the direction of the stroke, slap, etc.
(in tennis, squash, etc.) a stroke made from the side of the body opposite to that of the hand holding the racket, paddle, etc.
handwriting that slopes toward the left.
backhanded.
(in tennis, squash, etc.) of, relating to, or noting a stroke made from the side of the body opposite to that of the hand holding the racket, paddle, etc.
Compare forehand (def 1).
with the back of the hand:
He hit him backhand across the face.
from across the body; backhanded:
She returned the ball backhand on the first serve.
to strike with the back of the hand.
to hit, produce, or accomplish with a backhand.
to catch (a ball or the like) backhanded.
Contemporary Examples

Listen to the predictable caution mixed with backhanded admiration.
The Right Hearts Hillary John Batchelor December 3, 2008

I realized that the very narrowness of my complaints was backhanded evidence of the enormous amount that the film gets right.
Revisiting Lincoln Justin Green December 17, 2012

For these women, “crazy” is a backhanded compliment, a path on the road to fame.
Crazy Chick Flicks Ramin Setoodeh January 30, 2011

Completing the motion, Howe pulled the puck back to his own left and backhanded it hard into the open side of the net.
Gordie Howe Hockey’s Greatest War Horse W.C. Heinz May 30, 2014

Shawn sat up to say something, and he hauled off and backhanded her across the face.
The Strange and Mysterious Death of Mrs. Jerry Lee Lewis Richard Ben Cramer January 10, 2014

Historical Examples

“I sympathize with you,” he said by way of backhanded congratulation.
Joan of Arc of the North Woods Holman Day

Glyddyr turned upon him, and made a backhanded blow at his face.
King of the Castle George Manville Fenn

Perhaps it is only another aspect of the spirit of altruism, a sort of backhanded vicariousness.
The Complete Essays of C. D. Warner Charles Dudley Warner

A backhanded compliment of the acutest nature is credited to Lincoln as a lawyer and gentleman.
The Lincoln Story Book Henry L. Williams

Korman backhanded him across the throat without looking around, with such force that Gibson staggered back and fell.
Irresistible Weapon Horace Brown Fyfe

adjective
(of a blow, shot, stroke, etc) performed with the arm moving across the body
double-edged; equivocal: a backhanded compliment
(of handwriting) slanting to the left
(of a rope) twisted in the opposite way to the normal right-handed direction
adverb
in a backhanded manner
noun
(sport)

a stroke made across the body with the back of the hand facing the direction of the stroke
(as modifier): a backhand return

the side on which backhand strokes are made
handwriting slanting to the left
adverb
with a backhand stroke
verb (transitive)
(sport) to play (a shot) backhand
n.

as a tennis stroke, 1650s, from back (adv.) + hand. As a verb, by 1935. The figurative adjectival sense of “indirect” is from c.1800. Related: Backhanded; backhanding.

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