A compliment that also insults or puts down at the
They gave me a backhanded compliment when they said I was smart for a girl. Back-handed is synonymous with left-handed. For example in tennis, a backhand stroke is a strike by a right-handed player from the left side of the body. The left side of the body has always been deemed sinister. The Latin word for left is sinister. Hence, back-handed means round-about, indirect, or devious.