->''For an amateur production, the color came out very well... perhaps by scrapping the soundtrack and running it with subtitles or dubbing it in Esperanto, it could be promoted as [[TrueArtIsIncomprehensible a foreign art film of some sort or other]].''
-->-- [[http://jophan.org/mimosa/m18/brandt.htm Opening night review]] of ''Film/ManosTheHandsOfFate''

Sometimes, we can't just say something is bad. Perhaps we are being nice, or perhaps we are in a situation where negative comments are frowned upon. It could be that we are expected to give a positive response. Break out the faint praise!

To damn something with faint praise is to point out that something is mediocre or worse by praising it in ways that make its weaknesses clear. To say that a computer "looks sleek" as the primary point of praise would indicate that it is not that amazing as a computer, for example. To describe a person as punctual when asked about how they perform at work carries the heavy implication that this is their one valuable trait.

An alternate version of the trope (frequently used in CausticCritic reviews) is to condemn something by praising it in comparison to something else that's widely accepted as being not at all good. For example: "This movie has a more coherent plot than ''Film/PlanNineFromOuterSpace''." [[note]] Since PlanNineFromOuterSpace is generally considered to have a completely incoherent plot, saying another movie's plot is more coherent isn't saying very much.[[/note]]

Related to many InsultTropes; can be the result of a ComplimentBackfire. May take the form of an OverlyNarrowSuperlative or a TriviallyObvious statement. May also, in a [[FuneralTropes funeral]] setting, result from NeverSpeakIllOfTheDead if the deceased is [[AssholeVictim not particularly missed.]] See also SoOkayItsAverage and YouAreACreditToYourRace. Contrast with StealthInsult, which also damns people through "praise" - in that case, though, the praise is illusionary rather than merely weak. SarcasmMode is also a sister trope.
----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Advertising]]
* Chevrolet runs a TV commercial where it shows all of the cars it makes that get better EPA estimated mileage than the equivalent Honda. At the end of the commercial, the announcer says, "There's one thing Honda makes that we can't compete with. It's even self-propelled," and the camera pans down to show a Honda lawnmower.
* The jargon used by real-estate agents effectively does this by trying to turn everything into a compliment. "Cozy" just means too small, "a good fixer-upper" means it's a dump, an "efficient" kitchen means it's only big enough for one person. Specific examples include:
** ''TheSimpsons'': "That house is on fire!" "'Motivated seller'!"
** French [[StandUpComedy comedian]] Patrick Timsit had a field day with this.
** The Dutch Comedy show did a similar sketch where two obnoxious yuppies demolished every selling point a real estate broker gave them ("Good access by car and public transport." "Highway through the back yard, foundations ruined by the subway line."), turning into a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech. As they walked away satisfied, they decided they were going to buy it anyway.
** ''Webcomic/OwMySanity'' mocked this as well in [[http://owmysanity.comicgenesis.com/d/20100701.html this page]] and [[http://owmysanity.comicgenesis.com/d/20100702.html the next one]].
** [[http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2004-04-20/ Spoofed]] in ''{{ComicStrip/Dilbert}}'' as well.
** Fred Dagg on the subject: "Like so many other jobs in this wonderful society of ours, the basic function of the real estate agent is to increase the price of the article without actually producing anything, and as a result it has a lot to do with communication, terminology, and calling a spade a delightfully bucolic colonial winner facing north and offering a unique opportunity to the handyman."
** ''Freakonomics'' features a list of good and less-good things estate agents describe houses as, for instance "Good neighborhood" means there are good houses nearby even if this isn't one. And if the description/ad ever includes an exclamation point that means you should avoid it like the plague (since that means there is literally ''nothing'' the agent could praise about the house and thus felt the need to add fake enthusiasm).
** ''The Lying Ape'' says an apartment described as "cozy" meant you could cook a meal, watch television and answer the front door without getting up from the toilet.
* The Finnish government recently ran a study of the quality of all spectacles on sale in the country. The results concluded that they were all pretty much as good as one another. Newcomers to the market ''Specsavers'' ran a front-page advert congratulating a rival optical chain on being just as good as them. Specsavers' products are about a third of the price...
* The [[http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/battlefieldearth.php DVD Verdict review for]] ''Film/BattlefieldEarth'' comments that "You know you have a stinker the size of Texas on your hands when the best review quote they could find for the box was '...great scene transitions and some of the better special effects of the year...'" The reviewer himself takes it even further in "The Evidence" part of his review (where praise of a film's good qualities normally goes) by going, "Umm...lemme see...the DVD itself is a picture disc. And there are end credits. See, I can spot the good in everything if I try."
* A review quoted on the back cover of a Literature/{{Lensman}} novel by E.E. "Doc" Smith reads: "Fine for science fiction addicts." It's like an endorsement for methadone.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Manga/DoujinWork'', when Najimi shows Tsuyuri and Justice her first story, the first thing they compliment is the quality of the paper.
* In ''MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaVivid'', after Einhart easily defeats Vivio in their first sparring match, Vivio asks if she thought she did poorly. Einhart replies that she did well for someone who does not approach Strike Arts seriously.
* In ''Manga/SilverSpoon'', when Yugo looks at Aki's grades, the only thing he finds to say is that she is better than [[BookDumb Tokiwa]]. It doesn't do much to cheer her up.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In a ''JosieAndThePussycats'' comic, all the Pussycats can say about a band that wanted to open for them was "Um... they have nice hair."
* Knives Chau takes this route in ''ScottPilgrim's Finest Hour'', when telling the newly formed Shatterband what she thought of their first performance ("You guys have so much potential!"). Young Neil opts for BrutalHonesty instead.
* In a ''CalvinAndHobbes'' strip, Calvin reasons that Santa will deem him nice because he hasn't committed any heinous acts such as murder.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* In {{Amadeus}}, this trope practically defines Mozart's relationship with Salieri. In one scene he says to Salieri, "I did some variations on a piece of yours. A funny little tune, but it yielded some good things."
* In Creator/TimBurton's ''Film/EdWood'', the only positive thing found in any review on one of Creator/EdWood's plays is ''"The soldiers' costumes are very realistic"''. The director, being [[ThePollyanna Ed Wood]], desperately tries to spin this into something positive later on: ''"Victor Crowley himself praised its realism"''.
* In ''Film/KillBill'', Bill, when asked for his opinion about the Bride's fiancé (whom he later more honestly describes as a "fucking jerk"), says "I like his hair."
* In RobertAltman's ''Film/{{Popeye}}'', Olive Oyl sings "He's Large," which is faint praise for her fiancé Bluto. The only positives she can come up with are his large stature and the fact that "he's mine." Her friends giggle, "You can have him!"
* SpinalTap is described as "England's loudest band". The band themselves [[InsultBackfire don't find this particularly faint]], of course.
* Apparently the best whoever designed DVD case for [[BeverlyHillsChihuahua Beverly Hills Chihuahua]] could come up with was "The Greatest Chihuahua Move of All Time". Considering that there are only ''two other'' movies that feature a chihuahua (both of them sequels to this one) and the fact that neither was even released when this one went to DVD that's not a difficult feat.
* In ''Film/{{Chaplin}}'', Charlie admits that he's marrying his [[TheDitz very young lover]] because [[TheBabyTrap he thinks she's carrying his child]]. When he insists "she's really not that bad", his friend quips [[SarcasmMode "Spoken like a man madly in love."]]
* In ''Film/TuckerAndDaleVsEvil'', Tucker's not great at pep-talks.
-->'''Tucker''': ''You'' are a good-lookin' man... more or less. You got a damn good heart. [''{{Beat}}''] That's two things right there.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Darrell Huff's ''How To Lie With Statistics'' recommends the statement "There may be something in what you say" and all variations thereof as this, and also as a NonAnswer or MathematiciansAnswer to a critique or a philosophical argument. This statement is technically true but not really very meaningful because ''of course'' there's "something" in what ''anyone'' says: words; all enunciated and everything.
* Reversed by DorothyLSayers in ''[[LordPeterWimsey Murder Must Advertise]]''. At one point, describing one character's comments on another, our detective protagonist Lord Peter uses the phrase "...praise him with faint damns".
* In ''Discworld/{{Maskerade}}'', Agnes Nitt is tired of being described as having "a wonderful personality and good hair", as if that were all there was to her.
* In Creator/JaneYolen's historical novel ''Queen's Own Fool'', when Queen Mary is about to marry Darnley, she asks her friends' opinion of him. They don't want to upset her by pointing out that Darnley is a {{Jerkass}}, so they dodge the issue by praising his other qualities.
* For lack of anything better to say, Jack Ryback from [[MST3K Mike Nelson's]] ''Death Rat!'' at one point earnestly praises his literary agent as "the most well-groomed man I've ever met."
* ''ASongOfIceAndFire''
** Sansa is unable to think of any honest compliments for young king Joffrey except that he is "comely". It's pretty much the only good thing about him.
** The only honest compliment that Ned can give Robert about his reign was that he was a better king than [[TheCaligula his predecessor]].
** Griff says that Ser Rolly Duckfield is a "solid" man, but disagrees with him being raised to the Kingsguard. He worries that, at this rate, the illustrious order will be filled with men "each more blindingly adequate than the last."
* In ''Literature/TheCaineMutiny'', the protagonist, Willie Keith, is horrified to find that he has been rated as "Above average" (meaning generally useless, despite it [[FourPointScale actually being a 3/5 rating]]) on his service testimonial. Lt. Commander [=DeVriess=] adds that Keith "[...] seems to have the potential for becoming a capable officer [...]."[[labelnote:*]]I'm backtranslating from Swedish here, maybe someone could provide the exact quote[[/labelnote]] It doesn't take a genius to realize that he is being disparaging.
* ''RedDwarf'': The Least Worst Scripts.
* ''The Sprightly Companion'', a musical instruction book published by Henry Playford in 1695, describes the oboe as 'not much inferior to the Trumpet.'
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** Willow's excited to hear that since Angel came to our fair shores about eighty years ago, there are no reports of him hunting ("Angel"). She reads this as proof that he is a ''good'' vampire. "I mean, on a scale of one to ten, 10 being someone who's killing and maiming every night, and 1 being someone who's... not."
** In "Prophecy Girl", Xander takes the plunge and asks out Buffy. She's at a loss for words."Well, you're not laughing, so that's a good start."
** In "School Hard", Joyce wonders what Buffy's teachers will have to say about her scholastic performance. "Well," Buffy declares, "I think they'll all agree that I always bring a pen to class, ready to absorb the knowledge."
** Willow congratulates Buffy from moving on from Angel ...then makes the mistake asking the Scoobies if they approve of the new guy, Scott. "He didn't try to slit our throats or anything," quips Cordelia. "It's progress." ("Faith, Hope, and Trick")
** Buffy concedes that she's not popular. But she's not exactly '''un'''popular! ("[[Recap/BuffyTheVampireSlayerS3E5Homecoming Homecoming]]")
--> '''Buffy:''' A ''lot'' of people came to my Welcome Home party.
--> '''Willow:''' But they were eaten by zombies.
** In "[[Recap/BuffyTheVampireSlayerS3E19Earshot Earshot]]", Hogan feigns excitement at Percy's improved verbal skills. "I actually heard him complete a sentence," he tells Willow. "It had a clause and everything."
** At a pep rally in the same episode, Oz muses that the cheerleaders' spelling has improved.
** In "[[Recap/BuffyTheVampireSlayerS3E22GraduationDayPart2 Graduation Day pt. 2]]", Snyder congratulates the Class of '99, saying that they were "more or less adequate."
* {{Roseanne}}'s [[MyBelovedSmother Beverly]] was queen of this trope, to the point that when Roseanne disapproves of her daughter moving into a trailer park, she intentionally sends Beverly in with the directions to "[[ComplimentBackfire be as nice as possible]]."
-->Beverly: Well it must be nice being able to vaccum the entire home without having to change outlets.
* 2010 [[AcademyAwards Oscars]]- SteveMartin doesn't reciprocate the compliment that Alec Baldwin gives him when they introduce each other
* In ''Series/ThirtyRock'', Liz compliments Jenna like this multiple times in the episode "The Rural Juror". Indeed, [[RashomonStyle there are two sets of flashbacks in the episode, one from each of their perspectives]] (Liz's depicts her as attempting to be kind, while Jenna's emphasizes the insulting aspect.)
* The main premise of an ''Series/ICarly'' episode: Carly's webshow lands a sponsorship from a new type of wonder shoe. When the shoe fails to deliver, the team piles on "faint praise" to fulfill the contract without lying to their fans.
* In ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'':
** The episode "Tapestry" has Picard changing the past and not getting involved in the fight that caused him to need to get his heart replaced with an artificial one. Thus, [[ForWantOfANail he became a Lieutenant Junior Grade paper pusher instead of a legendary starship captain]]. When he goes to Troi and Riker asking about his performance, they end up falling into this.
-->'''Riker:''' You're a good worker, reliable... punctual.
** In the episode "The Chase", Picard's old archaeology professor describes one of his papers as "informative", to which Picard himself replies "[[LampshadeHanging Damning with faint praise]]."
* ''Series/{{Friends}}'':
** The characters argue over what faint praise they could offer Joey's awful T.V. show: "The lighting was O.K."
** Another one had Ross promising to play rugby. Rachael reassured him that he was the toughest ''palaeontologist'' that she knew.
* An episode of ''BlackBooks'' has Manny, suddenly missing his job at the bookshop, trying to find a nice thing to say about the place. He eventually concludes that there was no love, freedom, or largeness of heart, but "I was not contractually obligated to have sex with foreign businessmen, and that's not nothing!"
* From an early episode of ''{{Frasier}}'':
-->'''Frasier''': Niles, you're a good brother and a credit to the psychiatric profession.\\
'''Niles''': You're a good brother too.
* In an episode of ''MurphyBrown'', Frank, Murphy and Jim attend the premier of a movie made by Corky's husband, and come out having utterly hated it. Frank then tells Murphy and Jim that in these circumstances he usually complements the movie's cinematography. Phil then walks in:
-->'''Phil''': So how was the movie?
-->'''Frank''': The cinematography was excellent!
-->'''Phil''':...that bad, huh?
* A ''FatherTed'' example, when Ted asks Mrs Doyle if she considered him to be one of the best priests in the country (perhaps ''the'' best?) she says that he's probably the ''second'' best priest. This sends him into a HeroicBSOD. The only two other priests in the land are a simpleminded manchild, and a senile, alcoholic pervert.
* ''Series/BigWolfOnCampus'' episode "That Swamp Thing You Do!", possibly combined with StealthInsult:
-->'''Tommy''': So, what did you think of my acting skills?
-->'''Merton''': I think you combined the articulation of Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger with the emotional range of Creator/JeanClaudeVanDamme.
-->'''Tommy''': Thanks, man!
* In season one of ''Series/{{Angel}}'' Angel and Wesley describe Cordelia's acting as having "good projection" and said that she had "taken the role and made it her own."
* Of Oliver's production of ''AMidsummerNightsDream'' in ''SlingsAndArrows'', the janitor diplomatically says, "The production values are very high." And they are; it's just a shame that half the actors are crap and the blocking means you can't actually hear the delivery of the good ones. In the audience, the minister of culture is listening to the hockey game on a portable radio - and in the tech booth, the stage manager and ''Oliver himself'' are watching it on TV.
* An episode of ''Series/{{Dexter}}'' has the Trinity Killer receive faint praise from his family on Thanksgiving. He catches on, which goes poorly for his family.
* In ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode "Flesh and Stone", River arguably gives one about the Doctor. The army captain asks her "Do you trust this man?" She replies, "I absolutely trust him." "He's not some kind of madman?" In the ''exact'' same tone as before: "... I absolutely trust him."
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** Catelyn agrees for one of Lord Walder's daughters to marry [[spoiler: her son Robb]]. She relays that Lord Walder said that several of them would suitable. When asked to describe them she starts "One was..." and stops, apparently unable to think of a compliment and settling for confirming she's "suitable".
** Played with in an example found much later in the show Jaime Lannister ends up being forced to undergo an extremely painful surgical procedure in order to prevent the infection in [[spoiler: the stump of his sword hand]] from spreading. For extra creepiness, the doctor presiding over this treatment is Qyburn, [[MadDoctor a mildly-psychotic Maester]] stripped of his rank and chain of study for [[MadScientist immoral experimentation.]] Fortunately, the treatment works, and Jaime eventually compliments him on being "far better at this sort of work than Grand Maester Pycelle." He actually meant this as a genuine compliment, but Qyburn clearly doesn't think much of his [[TheyCalledMeMad former colleagues among the Maesters]] and even less of the [[YesMan admittedly corrupt]] Grand Maester, and only replies "Faint praise, my Lord."
* ''Series/TheFreshPrinceOfBelAir''
** In one, Ashley is afraid that she won't make any friends at her new school. Phil says that she has a great personality. Her response? "Great! Now I'm ugly."
** In another episode, the characters are arguing over who is Phillip Banks' favorite child and will inherit his fortune. At the end, Phillip tells each one that he loves them equally and the reason why. When he gets to Hilary, he can't think of anything better than "Nice earrings!".
* Quite possibly used in Talent shows (e.g. ''Series/TheXFactor'', ''Series/AmericanIdol'') Use this as a way to appear positive, but in fact put down the contestant's possible vote.
* In ''{{Newsradio}}'', a whole episode is devoted to the news staff getting angry over a review describing their station as "adequate." When Jimmy James hears about it, he admits that the reviewer is on his payroll and he wrote the review himself, believing that "adequate" is a good compliment.
* In ''Series/TheNanny'' episode "Deep Throat", C.C. wants Maxwell to be her date at a sorority reunion:
-->'''C.C.:''' (''enthusiastically'') I just can't wait to show you off to all my old friends, (''becoming embittered'') with their handsome doctor husbands and their 2.5 perfect children they juggled while earning multiple [=PhDs=]...
-->'''Maxwell:''' C.C., there's no need to be jealous. You have a successful career and, uh... a successful career.
-->'''Niles:''' [[DeadpanSnarker Yes, how do you balance them both]]?
* In ''Series/PowerRangersRPM'', after being informed that she's been cold to the Rangers, K turns to each in term, gives them ([[NoSocialSkills incredibly awkward and unintentionally backhanded]], but well-meaning) compliments, calls them by name (which she previously hadn't done much), and gives them an (equally awkward) hug. Then she turns to Ziggy, the one character most likely to accept this, and all she does is nod and say "You too, Series Operator Green," and walk off. Ziggy is outright insulted by this. [[spoiler:Implied to be a subversion, at least in intent; she actually seems to have a crush on Ziggy and has no idea how to express it.]]
* ''Series/SixFeetUnder'': Russell, Claire's then soon-to-be boyfriend, complains to Claire that nobody ever considers him "hot". At best he gets "cute", and it doesn't help that most people think he's gay, and he's constantly hit on by guys. His sexuality is treated ambiguously as he might be gay and in denial or just [[BiTheWay bisexual]].
* The opening of ''Franchise/TheMuppets Go to the Movies'' includes hilariously-vague faux reviews saying things like "One of the T.V. programs ever made" and "Even better than that".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* ''FlightOfTheConchords'': New Zealand's fourth most popular digi-folk duo.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Mythology]]
* TheFairFolk. Nobody could truthfully say they're anything better than [[MysticalWaif pretty]]. Amazing? Wonderful? Awesome? Terrific? Yes, if you [[Discworld/LordsAndLadies want to be tricky about it]]. Benevolent? Kindly? ''Wise''? Possibly even [[GlamourFailure beautiful]]? Many of them [[DisproportionateRetribution would kill you for the bald-faced lie]], unless you were a ConsummateLiar who could practically fool a mind-reader. Thus, TheFairFolk.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Radio]]
* ''CabinPressure'':
** Martin responds to Arthur's Christmas gift with "Thank you, Arthur, it's just what I... least expected."
** Douglas gives Martin a job reference stating that "other than myself, there is no one at MJN whose skills as a pilot I rate higher." [[OddlySmallOrganization They're MJN's only two pilots.]]
** [[ThePollyanna Arthur]] thinks pretty much everyone is, in his words, "brilliant", so when he's asked to describe his father and the best he can come up with is "he's all right", Martin's immediate reaction is "God, he must be awful!" Later in the same episode, Carolyn greets Arthur's father (her ex-husband) with "Hello, Gordon. How necessary to see you."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* The book Theatrical Anecdotes speaks of a producer who, when invited to a friend's show that really sucked, would congratulate them with the phrase, "My dear! Good is not the word!"
* In ''{{Hairspray}}'', Tracy's mother thanks Velma Von Tussle for letting Tracy appear on her TV show (she didn't, actually; the decision had been made without her and she protested vehemently). Velma diplomatically replies, "Well, Tracy has certainly... redefined our standards."
** And if that wasn't enough, in the very same conversation she gets in a jab at Tracy's (rather obese) mom as well: "New dress? Yes, well. You'll stop traffic!"
* In ''Theatre/{{Ruddigore}}'', Robin is talking to Rose about Richard, beginning by saying he'll "stand up for Dick through thick and thin!". However, every single thing Robin says about Richard, although masquerading as a compliment, is in fact nothing of the kind.
** When Rose asks Robin whether Richard is like most sailors in that he is "worldly", he says, "And what then? Admit that Dick is not a steady character, and that when he's excited he uses language that would make your hair curl. Grant that -- he does. It's the truth, and I'm not going to deny it. But look at his good qualities. He's as nimble as a pony, and his hornpipe is the talk of the Fleet!"
** When Rose asks if Richard drinks, Robin says, "Well, suppose he does, and I don't say he don't, for rum's his bane, and ever has been. He does drink -- I won't deny it. But what of that? Look at his arms -- tattooed to the shoulder!"
** Finally, when Rose wonders whether Richard would cheat on her while he was away on a sailing voyage, Robin says, "Granted--granted--and I don't say that Dick isn't as bad as any of 'em. You are, you know you are, you dog! [[ReallyGetsAround a devil of a fellow--a regular out-and-out Lothario]]! But what then? You can't have everything, and a better hand at turning-in a dead-eye don't walk a deck! And what an accomplishment that is in a family man!"
* In ''Theatre/ThePiratesOfPenzance'', Frederic worries if Ruth is not as beautiful as other women are, and the pirates struggle to say good things about her:
-->'''Pirate King:''' Oh, Ruth is very well, very well indeed.\\
'''Samuel:''' Yes, there are the remains of a fine woman about Ruth.
* In ''TheRockyHorrorPictureShow'', Doctor Frank-N-Further asks his servants on their opinion of Rocky, his latest creation. While Riff Raff and Magenta offer lavish praise, Columbia enthusiastically says "He's okay!" The doctor doesn't appreciate that.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''[[KatamariDamacy Beautiful Katamari]]'', if the KingOfAllCosmos isn't impressed with your rolling results, but still turns it into a star, he'll observe "At least it doesn't take up much space..." Of course, he doesn't shy away from ''straight insults'', either...
** The [[ReplacementGoldfish RoboKing]] in ''Katamari Forever'' is even better at this, in part thanks to his [[HeroicSelfDeprecation tendency to]] [[ItsAllMyFault blame himself]].
* In ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedI'', the ''Rafiq'' in charge of the Assassin Bureau in Damascus will tell Altaïr that he deeply envies him. Well, except for the fact that his arrogance got Altaïr stripped of his rank and equipment, and got him stabbed in the gut, and every other Assassin hates him now.... or rather, is now able to ''openly'' hate his guts.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', The Warden is offered a vote on how to dispense with a magical criminal responsible for poisoning a nobleman. The Warden can give a response like "He did agree to help us... though he didn't have much choice", to which the Arl calls the trope out by name.
* In ''JustForFun/PokemonVietnameseCrystal'', the second gym leader, oddly enough, does this to ''himself'' when he says, "I'M NOT DEFEATED BY EVERYONE."
* ''GoldenSunDarkDawn'''s character bios list Karis, an overbearing and easily-annoyed {{Tsundere}}, as the "most levelheaded" of the starting three characters. This speaks volumes ([[SilentProtagonist or not]]) about Matthew, ''the hero''.
* In KatawaShoujo, when discussing grouping with Misha and Shizune, the former being the least academically gifted of all the main characters, [[FirstPersonSmartass Hisao]] says that Misha's handwriting is nice.
** Akira says the best part about visiting her parents' house in Scotland was that it was by the beach. She hasn't forgiven them for [[ParentalAbandonment leaving them behind in Japan years ago]].
* The introduction to ''VideoGame/ShadowrunReturns'' explains that you are currently living in an apartment that has four walls, a roof and isn't on fire. Also there are no cockroaches because they have higher standards.
* The Disciple, from ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicII'', will give you a laundry list of complaints he has with the Jedi if you ask him: they're arrogant, they're out of touch, and [[TheParagonAlwaysRebels their greatest Knights keep on falling to the dark side]]. But he ''will'' concede that people are wrong to conflate them with the Sith, and they do have symbolic value. He supposes.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' inverts this neatly with [[http://xkcd.com/607/ the UNIX 2038 problem]].
** [[http://xkcd.com/802/ Online Communities 2]] does this with its AltText by way of OverlyNarrowSuperlative.
* In one ''BoyMeetsBoy'' [[http://boymeetsboy.keenspot.com/d/20001201.html strip]]:
-->'''Tabitha:''' So I'm a hideous old evil bitch from hell?\\
'''Flash:''' Um, I never said hideous.\\
'''Tabitha:''' Oh, ''that'' helps!
* The doctor's announcement after DominicDeegan's physical exams.
--> '''Doctor:''' [[http://www.dominic-deegan.com/view.php?date=2011-01-06 Well, um, at least your hair's healthy.]]
* From ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', regarding [[KnifeNut Jack Noir]]
--> GC: [=K4RK4T, H3S 4 J3RK!=] \\
GC: [=H3 H4S ST4BB3D YOU ON MOR3 TH4N ON3 OCC4S1ON!=] \\
CG: SOME OF THOSE STABBINGS WERE ACCIDENTAL! \\
GC: >8| \\
CG: OK, WELL I KNOW FOR A FACT THE THIRD TIME WAS ACCIDENTAL.
** Another one from Jane, [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6&p=006050 comparing build grist to the fruit Gushers they look like]]:
--> But unlike Gushers which serve many practical purposes like inducing vomiting and simulating the experience of eating plump insects, these things are totally useless!
* A prison tattooist in SomethingPositive has the slogan "Come see Edna! You won't get hepatitis!"
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'': Strong Sad's character bio on an old character page (which can still be found in the museum) goes like this:
--> ''"Strong Sad has been disowned by his brothers Strong Bad and Mad. On the plus side, he has good handwriting!"''
* ''WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick'':
** The Nostalgia Chick labels ''Film/{{Dragonheart}}'' the best of the "dragon" movies, and acknowledges that it isn't saying much.
** While reviewing ''Film/MenInBlack II'', she complains that ItsTheSameNowItSucks, and says that ''TransformersRevengeOfTheFallen'' of all sequels tried something different.
-->''"...I'm making a positive comparison to ''Transformers 2''. That's like making a positive comparison to backne."''
** When rating the Disney sequels she admits that she can't quite make a "best" list, since that implies "good" or "warrants existing." Instead she makes a list of the "Least Awful." She does the same thing later when rating female superhero movies.
** Likewise in her review of ''WesternAnimation/TheLorax'' she calls ''HortonHearsAWho'' the "least awful" DrSeuss movie, and notes that the best Chris Meledandri movies have only been "okay."
** From her ''SisterAct'' review: "Well, 'funny' is a strong word, as neither movie [is] particularly funny. They're ''easy to watch.'' They will hold your gaze for ninety minutes." At the end she sums things up by saying that "they're not funny, but they're ''fun!''"
* WebVideo/TheCinemaSnob has a moment in ''ViolentShit III: Infantry of Doom'':
-->'''Snob:''' "Well, at least it's not CG gore..." [''winces visibly''] "What a fucking sad state we're in, when modern-day computer-infested horror films could learn something from '''THE ''VIOLENT SHIT'' MOVIES!'''"
* From the TGWTG files: WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic:
** From his review of ''Film/{{Steel}}'' when describing the casting choice of Shaquille O'Neal:
--->'''Critic:''' But give him some credit, though. ...He's tall.
** He does some lampshading of this during his review of ''Film/TransformersRevengeOfTheFallen'':
--->"Greatest adequately satisfying movie of all time! And I liked it, too."
** In one that he even feels a bit ashamed: as much as he hates ''Film/HowTheGrinchStoleChristmas'', JimCarrey's performance is better than MikeMyers in ''Film/TheCatInTheHat''.
** In his "The WORST Christmas Special Ever" episode he comments that even ''Film/SantaClausConquersTheMartians'' at least got what kind of bear lives in the Arctic right.
* An [[InvertedTrope inverted]] version of this trope is [[DiscussedTrope discussed]] in ''The Legend of Hercules'' (2013) episode of ''WebVideo/MidnightScreenings'', in which Brad and Brian overhear two men talking about the film after seeing it. The first man unfavorably compares the film to the show ''Series/SpartacusBloodAndSand'', stating how "much better" the show is, before adding at the end that the movie was still "pretty fucking good, though".
--->'''Brad:''' He liked it! He just had to shit on it first.
* The ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog'' song "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOxFbQRQHSU&feature=related So They Say]]" features numerous characters praising [[SmugSuper Captain Hammer]] and his relationship with [[WideEyedIdealist Penny]]. When it's her turn to describe him, she says "I guess he's pretty okay".
* In {{Moviebob}}'s review of RobZombie's ''Film/HalloweenII2009'', he says that it's the best ''Franchise/{{Halloween}}'' film since Creator/JohnCarpenter's original, though he admits that, given the standards of all the ''Franchise/{{Halloween}}'' movies released in between, that's not saying much. {{Subverted|Trope}} in that he enjoyed the film anyway in spite of its flaws.
* ''WebVideo/TheLizzieBennetDiaries'':
** Lizzie isn't too pleased to hear that Darcy considers her "decent enough"... His lack of social skills and tact is really astounding, considering how witty and pretty Lizzie actually is.
** Lizzie challenges her incredibly kind sister Jane to say ''something'' nice about Darcy. The only thing she can give? "He's so...ah. Eeh. He's um- no, no no.... He's tall."
--->'''Lizzie:''' Okay! For the record, when the nicest thing ''Jane Bennet'' has to say about you is "tall", you have personality problems.
** It happens again when Caroline is trying to describe Darcy, also asked by Lizzie. And Caroline actually ''likes'' Darcy.
* From an episode of the Dread Central Podcast regarding ''TheApparition'':
-->'''Matt Fini''': I asked a friend of mine in LA if I should bother go seeing it and he said "Eh. It's well meaning."
* ToddInTheShadows on Chris Brown in his review of "Turn up the Music":
-->'''Todd''': "As a singer, Chris brown is a really good dancer."
* Online newspaper [[http://www.thedaily.com/article/2012/10/29/102912-news-worst-candidates-2012/ The Daily]] describes talking-point-turned-politician Samuel “Joe The Plumber” Wurzelbacher in their roundup of bad candidates of 2012:
--> Joe The Unlicensed Pipe Fitter wrote a book, which was hailed by critics as “consisting of words” and “something that now exists.”
* Yahtzee of WebAnimation/ZeroPunctuation reviews video games, and despite the AccentuateTheNegative theme of his reviews, tries to come up with a few compliments. For FIFA 2013, though, he just had this to say:
--> It's certainly a game.
** After spending a lot of time complaining about the story for ''MetroidOtherM'', he [[InvertedTrope praises the gameplay with faint damnation]]:
-->'''Yahtzee''': The gameplay's infinitely stronger in that it's merely bad.
** From the same review, on the topic of the box blurb proudly announcing "Features Fully Voiced Movies!":
-->'''Yahtzee''': If the only selling point you can think of for the cinematics is that they have voices, like every film made since 1927, then it's like saying "you have nice hair" when forced to compliment the appearance of a squinting, bucktoothed hunchback.
* While watching ''Series/WonderWoman2011Pilot'', when watching Wonder Woman brutally take down a suspect and take his blood without legal right to, [[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall Linkara]] says, "At least she used a sterile needle."
* ''WebVideo/TheAutobiographyOfJaneEyre'': When Jane asks Mr Rochester's personal assistant Grace Poole about their boss, specifically what he is like and whether he is easy to work for or if he is generally liked, Grace starts talking about his company and family. She also says that he's... ''a man''. Eventually she manages to say he's great, but it doesn't sound too convincing. But one thing was really nice — Mr Rochester is a dog-lover.
* Often on [[Wiki/TVTropes this very wiki]], a description for a work will often praise the work. If the description only lists the factual information is there, it usually means either the work is little known, or the work isn't very well received and no tropers can think of anything positive to say about it.
* In ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', Gregor the Snail has this to say about Cauldron, a group of {{Well Intentioned Extremist}}s who have explained that they plan to save the world.
-->''I would never question your morals. I know you have none.''
* Creator/{{Tobuscus}}' [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1pfDquA65c "2nd Hottest Girl"]] is a parody love song about ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: the ''second'' most attractive girl on a web reality show. The joke, of course, is that the singer doesn't realize that he's insulting her.
* ''WebVideo/UltraFastPony.'' In the episode "The Pet Games", the caption writer comes up with a variety of subtitles for [[TheDitz Rainbow Dash]]. These alternate between overt insults like "Professional Idiot", and more subtle insults like "Knows Her Own Name" and "Smartest Mare In Her Family" [[note]]In ''UFP'', Dash is an only child and an orphan.[[/note]].
* ''WebVideo/TheAngryVideoGameNerd'' has only one good thing to say about Film/BackToTheFuture: At least it fits in a toaster. For even more horrendous games like Videogame/PlumbersDontWearTies, the closest he could get to complimenting it is to say it's almost half as bad as [[Literature/TheStrangeCaseOfDrJekyllAndMrHyde Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde]].
* The [[http://unshavedmouse.wordpress.com Unshaved Mouse]] refers to voice actors who did less-than-stellar work as "very nice ladies/gentlemen doing their best."
* ''Website/SFDebris'': has come up with everything from recommending ''Film/StarTrekInsurrection'' as a ''Franchise/StarTrek'' film for being the ''shortest'', to praising the episode "Human Error" for being less awful than "Unimatrix Zero".
-->'''Chuck''': But then, so's a test pattern.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Parodied in ''Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove'', where Kuzco insults a row of girls with offhand remarks, most of which are directly insulting, but to the final one he says, in very sarcastic tones, "Let me guess, you have a great personality?". Even better is the fact that ''they all look identical''. The fact that the other girls have to physically restrain her to keep her from attacking Kuzco shows that she's well aware it wasn't a compliment.
* Used a bit on ''TheSimpsons''. In one episode, after showing his friends and family the [[ShowWithinAShow cartoon]] he's voice acting for, Homer's guests all leave muttering incoherently and Carl says "You should be very proud, Homer... you have a wonderful home."
** Also, when Marge becomes a real estate agent, Lionel Hutz sits her down to teach her the jargon.
-->'''Hutz:''' There's ''(ominous)'' "The Truth", and there's ''(smiling)'' "The truth!" Lemme show you. ''(opens a brochure)''\\
'''Marge:''' It's awfully small.\\
'''Hutz:''' I'd say it's awfully ... cozy.\\
'''Marge:''' That's dilapidated.\\
'''Hutz:''' Rustic.\\
'''Marge:''' That house is on fire!\\
'''Hutz:''' Motivated seller!
** In another bit, Marge mentions qualities she likes in Homer and Lisa then says, ''I like Bart's... I like Bart!''
* In a ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' episode, one of Peter's cutoff gags had RingoStarr showing the rest of Music/TheBeatles a song he had just written. Their response? "Very good! We'll put this right on the fridge, right here where everyone can see it."
** When Brian made Stewie say something nice about Creator/DiabloCody, he said, "I . . . envy the tattoo artist who had that huge canvas of arm fat to work with."
* ''TheClevelandShow'' episode "Gone With The Wind", which dealt with the sudden death of Cleveland's much-reviled ex-wife Loretta, took this trope UpToEleven. The pastor officiating at Loretta's funeral opens the eulogy by saying that he never knew her personally, but if he'd been told anything about her beforehand, it apparently wasn't pretty, because the best he can do is ''list the accomplishments of other women who happened to share her name.''
* In Disney's ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'', an unintentional example of this nearly trips up our hero.
-->'''Aladdin:''' Princess Jasmine, you're very...um...
-->'''Genie:''' ''(whispering suggestions in his ear)'' Wonderful! Magnificent! Glorious!... Punctual!
-->'''Aladdin:''' ''(blurts)'' Punctual!
-->'''Princess Jasmine:''' ''(bewildered)'' Punctual?
-->'''Genie:''' Sorry.
-->'''Aladdin:''' Uh... uhh... ''beautiful!''
-->'''Genie:''' Nice recovery.
** A lot of the things Jasmine says about Jafar in the ShowSomeLeg scene are TriviallyObvious, i.e. he's tall and dark or his beard is twisted. Her tone of voice just makes them sound like compliments since by then, [[DistractedByTheSexy he isn't really paying attention.]]
* ''{{Anastasia}}'':
-->Vlad: Well?
-->Sophie: Well, she answered every question.
* On one episode of ''TotalDramaWorldTour'', [[{{Geek}} Beth]] has to come up with a haiku highlighting one of [[AlphaBitch Heather's]] positive attributes. The first line is "[[TriviallyObvious Heather has ten toes]]," and the rest summarizes how that makes swimming easier.
* ''TheSpectacularSpiderMan'' subverts this when Aunt May tries to set [[TheHero Peter]] up with [[FieryRedhead Mary Jane Watson]], saying she has "a wonderful personality." Peter shudders, quite certain it means she's ugly, and the phrase "wonderful personality" becomes a RunningGag. [[HelloNurse Then Peter actually meets her]].
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'': Done accidentally by Aang in 'The Cave of Two Lovers'. He and Katara aren't sure how to get out of a labyrinth, and Katara suggests that, based on the story they've read, maybe they're supposed to kiss. When Katara tries to play it cool, Aang takes it too far, acting like he wouldn't want to kiss her at all. He tries to save it by telling Katara that he'd rather kiss her than die, which he thinks is a compliment. Katara... doesn’t.
** Then, after seeing an absolutely horrendous play in “The Ember Island Players”:
--> "The effects were decent."
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'':
** This happens in "Lesson Zero". Twilight Sparkle, [[SanitySlippage (literally) madly desperate]] to find a friendship problem for her weekly report to Princess Celestia, tries to ''make'' a problem by getting the Cutie Mark Crusaders to fight over her favorite childhood toy, Smarty Pants. The Crusaders aren't interested in the ratty old doll, however, but are trying to be polite about it. When pressed to compliment it, the only thing Sweetie Belle can come up with is "Um, I really like her... mane?"
*** As they're wont to do, the fandom has turned this into a meme, and it's now the stock response when you're commenting on someone's poorly designed pony OC.
** Happens again in ''Read it and Weep'', where the only thing Rarity can think of to comfort the just-hospitalized Rainbow Dash is that the hospital gowns match the curtains.
** "Suited for Success" has this happen a number of times. First when Rarity reveals the dresses she made for the other five, they can't think of anything better to say than "it's something." Later, when Rarity has Fluttershy in her dress, and asks what she thinks she says "it's...nice" and similar until Rarity browbeats Fluttershy into telling the truth. Finally, when their revised dresses are shown to them, Rarity's best compliment on the new designs is "I'm happy that you're happy."
* ''{{Daria}}:''
--> '''Jake:''' ''(on Daria's school photo)'' Wow, that's really sharp focus!
** Also in the episode "Too Cute": everybody is gushing about a minor character's new nose job, which Quinn politely says is "cute." Everybody acts as though this minor praise is a tremendous insult.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken'' sketch ''Ebert and Roper at the Movies'' (where Roper is is replaced by Creator/MNightShyamalan after Roper comes down with a case of who-gives-a-[bleep]), the ''only'' movie RogerEbert isn't openly scathing in reviewing falls under this trope:
-->'''Roger Ebert:''' ''Rudy'' was about a man who overcomes obstacles to fulfill his dream of playing football. ''Rudy II'' is about 90 minutes long.
* ''WesternAnimation/APupNamedScoobyDoo'': In the episode "Horror of the Haunted Hairpiece", the pizzeria owner offers Shaggy and Scooby free samples of his bread sticks ([[DontExplainTheJoke literally, they're sticks]]), and Scooby says that they were "crunchy".
* In the ''WesternAnimation/GoofTroop'' episode "The Good, the Bad, and the Goofy," [[NiceGuy Goofy]] decides to give [[{{Jerkass}} Pete]] a compliment. The compliment in question is "Pete's a swell kinda guy, once you get past his personality!" What makes this even funnier is that Goofy himself believes this is a meaningful compliment.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Unflattering letters of recommendation must resort to this. This is particularly true in Germany, where you simply are not allowed to use negative comments and traits in them, even if the employee stole half your money and hit everybody on the head. Of course this led to a whole dictionary of "when X is praised, Y is not good". "Punctual" of course is a classic, "always endeavoring" employees are the worst of the bunch (willing, but certainly not able in the least). Take that and a few code words for unacceptable behavior (mentioning the "working atmosphere" means the employee is a drunkard and/or a bully and/or a molester) and inexperienced bosses can really doom their former employees with what was meant to be praise.
* Common in university recommendations from teachers, since they're often ''obligated'' to write positive comments. If the student really was absolute rubbish, look for things like "often attended class".
* [[NeverSpeakIllOfTheDead Obituaries]] had, and possibly still have, similar codes which look like faint praise, but are actually [[StealthInsult insults]]: "A tireless raconteur" meant the subject just ''would not shut up'', "Affable and hospitable at every hour" meant ''permanently drunk'', "Gave colorful accounts of his exploits" meant ''pathological liar'', "An uncompromisingly direct ladies' man" meant ''frequent groper'', and "Did not suffer fools gladly" meant ''a total shit'', at least according to [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=WNbssTuVIfM#t=658s Stephen Fry]].
* Employees are generally not allowed to criticize product. When asked for their opinion, those who feel guilty about bald-faced lying will simply say that the item is "popular." Refusing to personally vouch for the item, they push the responsibility on others. It's pretty much the worst thing they can get away with saying.
* Creator/StephenColbert at the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa-4E8ZDj9s White House Correspondent's Dinner]].
* In dating, compliments such as "good personality" and "funny" are generally interpreted as euphemisms for "unattractive." Which of course has the {{Unfortunate Implication|s}} that these are not actually positive attributes or, at the very least, inconsequential.
* Websites and magazines that feature professional video game reviews may have this since they're generally required to list good traits of games, and when the game in question is a real stinker the reviewer may resort to this, frequently combined with SarcasmMode. The Australian magazine ''Hyper'' once listed the "good" aspects of a game thus: it came with a box and was therefore easily disposable.
* "Compliments" along the lines of "[[YouAreACreditToYourRace (name) is really (something positive) for a (category)]]!" tend to come off this way in addition to the buckets of UnfortunateImplications they may contain.
* Abraham Lincoln reportedly asked Thaddeus Stevens about the honesty of Simon Cameron, who was being considered for a cabinet position. Stevens replied that "I do not believe he would steal a red hot stove."[[note]]One report claims that Cameron demanded an apology from Stevens for this quip. Stevens "apologized", saying he took that back, i. e. implying [[BaitAndSwitchComment Cameron might well steal a red hot stove after all.]][[/note]]
* There's a proverb in German that goes "Nice is the little brother of shitty".
* A [[http://blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2012/07/10/samsungs-galaxy-tab-not-as-cool-as-ipad-says-judge/ lawsuit]] against Apple's iPad by Samsung was decided in Samsung's favor by the judge due to Samsung's Galaxy Tab product being "not as cool."
* "Faint praise" is common in Australian casual vernacular. A well-known and common phrase is "that's ordinary" - which in real life indicates a low opinion of the subject. Depending on context, it can mean "that's unacceptable", "that's immature", "that's pathetic", "that's sub-par", "that's ugly", "that's rude", etc.
* "Character home" is an expression often found in an ad for a house that is old, small and run down. Fixer-upper, rustic, quaint, handyman's dream... all synonymous with "will cost thousands of dollars to fix".
* In a review of a train set in a modelers' magazine, the author spent two paragraphs of a two-page feature describing the ''cardboard box'' that the set came in, praising its corrugated walls and high crush strength. The actual model got no such commendation.
** This is actually quite common in model railroading magazines. Considering that a significant portion of the magazine's revenue is coming from advertisements for those very same models, reviewers are simply not allowed to criticize the models, thus leading to damning with faint praise. One review for a horrendously out-of-scale Shay engine mentioned that "''Certainly Lima [Locomotive Works] could have built one like this if someone had ordered it.''", the implication being that no real railroad had ever actually ordered anything even remotely like the Shay "model" at hand.
* The all-too common reply, "At least you're honest" after someone expresses a morally repugnant opinion. [[http://pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Antifeminist_trolls Here's an example.]]
--> The Honest: Shows up and calls people cunts or whores etc and tells them to die in a rape fire. Their honesty is appreciated.
* Referring to someone as 'unique', 'interesting', and 'unusual' can easily be seen as this.
* Comedian Lee Camp has pointed out Oklahoma invokes this trope ''on themselves'' with the saying/motto "Oklahoma is OK".
--> ''"That's all you've got? It's a whole state. Something there has to be better than 'okay'."''
* In Vienna you can sometimes see people wearing t-shirts proclaiming "God is quite okay" on the front and "I don't mind Jesus" on the back side.
* When you start learning a foreign language, a sentence "it's interesting" can be quite useful and actually sounds impressive for a beginner. Once you reach an intermediate level, it shouldn't be over-used.
* According to the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kvass Other Wiki]], Kvass is "a non-alcoholic drink [[VodkaDrunkenski by Russian standards]]."
* A well known Russian anecdote presents a Japanese delegation being shown a series of Russian factories, construction sites and scientific projects. At every turn, their opinion is "you have wonderful children". When finally forced to give an opinion that does not consist of faint praise, they elaborate: "You have really wonderful, beautiful children. But everything you create with your hands is terrible."[[note]]Taking into account the historical grudge the Japanese have against Russians, this is somewhat understandable.[[/note]]
* In pick-up artist (PUA), culture, this is known as "negging." The idea is to deliver a backhanded insult to a potential conquest to undermine her self-confidence, which will in theory make her more amenable to a PUA's advances.
[[/folder]]
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