A friend of a friend once described me as ‘not unattractive’. I wondered, is that a compliment? What does it actually mean?

If I’m not unattractive, then surely, I’m attractive. But why phrase it that way? Maybe he didn’t want to compliment me. Either way, it sounded like a backhanded compliment to me.

But hey, listen, it was years ago; I’m really not that bothered. To prove how not bothered I am, here are 84 backhanded compliment examples.

What Is a Backhanded Compliment?

Before I start, what is a backhanded compliment? Backhanded compliments are insults disguised as compliments. Some are obvious, others are more thinly veiled.

I’ve searched the internet for the best examples of backhanded compliments.

84 Backhanded Compliment Examples

  1. “Gosh, I wish I could be so relaxed about housework.”
  2. “You know a lot for someone who doesn’t read.”
  3. “What’s a girl like you doing in a nice place like this?”
  4. “I met your kids today. They’re actually really polite.”
  5. “You’re so lucky you have time to spend on a manicure.”
  6. “You know, it wouldn’t take much decorating to get your house looking lovely.”
  7. “I wish I had the confidence you do to dress like that.”
  8. “Wow, those jeans really flatter your wide hips!”
  9. “You’re attractive for an older woman.”
  10. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter how you look. Lots of girls like nice guys.”
  11. “I’ve seen smaller.”
  12. “How on earth did you pay for that truck?”
  13. “I can see how people may find you attractive.”
  14. “You’re so lucky you don’t have to work.”
  15. “Nice glasses! They totally make your nose look way smaller.”
  16. “You look skinny when you hold your head up.”
  17. “You’re such a hard worker. I could never leave my children with a sitter for that long.”
  18. “You’d be a catch if I didn’t know you.”
  19. “I love your car! My first car was that model.”
  20. “Did you do something different? You look good TODAY.”
  21. “I really enjoyed talking to you. I thought it was gonna be awful.”
  22. “I wasn’t expecting you to be so articulate, considering your background.”
  23. “I like the way you look; I don’t think thin girls are attractive at all.”
  24. “I would never have guessed you lived in such an affluent area.”
  25. “Wow, your skin looks so much better.”
  26. “Aww. You’ll be a great mom.” (not pregnant)
  27. “That’s not the ugliest shirt I’ve seen you wear.”
  28. “I think it’s lovely you’ve finally found someone who accepts you the way you are.”
  29. “You look really nice in this light.”
  30. “I love your mustache!” (to a female)
  31. “You know, you’d actually look quite sexy if you lost a few pounds.”
  32. “I just feel so much smarter after talking with you.”
  33. “I really admire how you don’t let housework stop your exercise regime.”
  34. “You’ve got such strong features.”
  35. “Your haircut really slims your face.”
  36. “You might not be the prettiest, but you’re definitely the funniest girl I’ve dated.”
  37. “You look amazing for someone that doesn’t wear makeup.”
  38. “Well, you’re not the ugliest girl I’ve ever seen.”
  39. “Your English is amazing.”
  40. “What’s a smart guy like you working in a company like this?”
  41. “You know, you’re pretty smart. I don’t care what other people say.”
  42. “You’re so funny! But looks aren’t everything…”
  43. “You’re really fast for your weight.”
  44. “Thank you so much for dinner; my grandparents used to make that when they were hard up.”
  45. “Your pimples have really cleared up.”
  46. “You look really pretty in that picture. It doesn’t even look like you.”
  47. “What you lack in grace, you make up for in eagerness.”
  48. “You look good today. I almost didn’t recognize you.”
  49. “It’s a good thing you’re pretty.”
  50. “How did you get a job in that company? I hear they’re really picky.”
  51. “I could never spend that much time on my appearance. I’m way too busy.”
  52. “You couldn’t have done better.”
  53. “It’s tough to underestimate you.”
  54. “I always feel more intelligent after reading your work.”
  55. “Hey, that’s a nice sweater! Do they make it in your size?”
  56. “Don’t worry, you’re pretty on the inside.”
  57. “You’re the sharpest bulb in the box!”
  58. “You’re so lucky you don’t have any responsibilities.”
  59. “You are a perfect example of how hard work and talent aren’t essential for success.”
  60. “I love how you just wear anything.”
  61. “Nice dress! Is it homemade?”
  62. “You’re a much better kisser than your brother.”
  63. “Oh hey, you’ve lost so much weight! I wouldn’t have recognized you if not for those awful jeans.”
  64. “You look just like your sister. She has a big chin too.”
  65. “That dress wouldn’t work on me; I don’t have the curves for it.”
  66. “I hope your future is as pleasant as you are.”
  67. “You’re so lovely when you make the effort.”
  68. “Well, I’ve taken up enough of your time…and vice versa.”
  69. “I actually want to marry you one day. You’re just so tolerable!”
  70. “You’re so brave to go back to work and leave your baby with strangers.”
  71. “You look like a hundred bucks.”
  72. “You’re lucky you have tiny boobs, or you’d look like a slut.”
  73. “I think you do really well with what you have.”
  74. “The back of your hand is beautiful!”
  75. “I like your outfit. It matches today.”
  76. “She is SO FUNNY when she’s drunk.”
  77. “Wow, you’ve got great makeup skills!”
  78. “You’re not the ugliest girl I’ve dated.”
  79. “I love that you’re not that skinny.”
  80. “I hope you have the day you deserve.”
  81. “I’d never be able to pull off that outfit!”
  82. “You would make a great plus-size model.”
  83. “You have no etiquette or sophistication, but I like that about you.”
  84. “I promise, I did not mean to accidentally insult you.”

How to Respond to a Backhanded Compliment?

You may recognize some of the backhanded compliment examples above, but don’t know how to respond. Here are four ways to tackle them.

  • Call it out

If you feel able to, call out the backhanded compliment. One way to do this is to acknowledge the compliment part of the comment, then address the insult. For example,

“You’re such a hard worker, I could never leave my children with a sitter for that long,” respond with “Thank you for noticing I’m a hard worker, but your comment about leaving my children is hurtful,” or, “Do you realize what you’ve said is not complimentary?”

Or, have a look at these clever comebacks.

  • Ignore it

backhanded compliment examples

Some of us don’t feel confident enough to call out unacceptable behavior, so ignoring a backhanded compliment can be an excellent tactic. It doesn’t mean you’re letting someone insult you and get away with it. You’re saying,

“I don’t value your opinion, so it doesn’t even require a response.”

You can also change the subject to make your point.

  • Say ‘thank you’ to the compliment part

There are people who use backhanded compliments to elicit a response. You can ignore these people or thank them to shut them down. You don’t have to respond or justify your actions if they’re being deliberately rude.

Acknowledge the positive part of the comment as if you haven’t heard the insulting bit.

  • Find the humor

Finally, I recommend fighting back with humor. Take the insulting part and magnify it out of all proportion. For example,

“You look good in this light,” you can respond with, “I know! I specifically asked them to use soft lighting!”

Final Thoughts

Do you know any backhanded compliment examples? Has someone given you a backhanded compliment? Let me know in the comments section.


  1. wikihow.com
  2. psychologytoday.com
  3. Featured image by benzoix on Freepik

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Blue

    I once went into work to help out a supervisor on a day which was suppose to be my day off. It is a relaxed work place so I talked an laughed with one of my colleagues whilst I worked. Once finished I handed over some work to my supervisor she responded to me by saying ‘good girl’ (even though I am a grown married woman)
    I ignored her so called ‘compliment’ & continued.
    I handed over to her some more work she responds again ‘good girl’ with a little smirk on her face.
    I completely ignored her & continued speaking to my colleague.
    she wanted a reaction but I didn’t rise to the bait.

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