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May 6, 2020
This week’s theme
Words related to the hand

This week’s words
handfast
repugnant
backhanded
ironfisted
dead hand

backhanded
“You’re prettier in person.”
“I think what you meant to say is ‘you’re really ugly in photos.’”
Illustration: Vanessa Papastavros @vanscribbles

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

backhanded

PRONUNCIATION:
(BAK-han-did)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Indirect or ambiguous, having double meaning; sarcastic or malicious.
2. Performed with the back of the hand facing forward.

ETYMOLOGY:
The metaphorical sense of the term derives from the image of a hand facing backward being indirect or hiding something. Earliest documented use: 1800. The word forehanded is not an opposite of this word.

USAGE:
“In an extraordinary backhanded compliment, Pierre Rolin compared Helen Macintyre to the Dr Seuss character the Grinch, saying: ‘I think deep down there is a beautiful heart, a lovely person, who was damaged and who was absorbed by tragedy.’”
Polly Dunbar and Alexis Parr; Boris Johnson’s Amazing Love Pentagon!; Daily Mail (London, UK); Feb 6, 2011.

See more usage examples of backhanded in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Thinking is an experimental dealing with small quantities of energy, just as a general moves miniature figures over a map before setting his troops in action. -Sigmund Freud, neurologist, founder of psychoanalysis (6 May 1856-1939)

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