Damning with faint praise is an English idiom, expressing oxymoronically that half-hearted or insincere praise may act as oblique criticism or condemnation. 
History of the term [ edit ]
The concept can be found in the work of the Hellenistic
sophist and philosopher Favorinus (c. 110 AD) who observed that faint and half-hearted praise was more harmful than loud and persistent abuse.
The explicit phrasing of the modern English idiomic expression was first published by
Alexander Pope in his 1734 poem, " Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot" in Prologue to the Satires.
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.
— "Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot" by Alexander Pope (1688–1744) 
According to William Shepard Walsh, "There is a faint anticipation in
William Wycherley's 'Double Dealer,' 'and libels everybody with dull praise,' But a closer parallel is in Phineas Fletcher, —"
When needs he must, yet faintly then he praises,
Somewhat the deed, much more the means he raises:
So marreth what he makes, and praising most, dispraises.
— "The Purple Island" by Phineas Fletcher 
Examples [ edit ]
". . . [Cauz] said a big problem was that many users considered Wikipedia to be 'fine' or 'good enough'."
"They wrote that “ Our readers report that they find some merit in your story, but not enough to warrant its acceptance.”
". . . when [George] W. [Bush] could avoid it no longer, he mentioned Vice [President Dick Cheney], damning with faint praise: “ Dick Cheney’s advice was consistent and strong.”"
See also [ edit ]
References [ edit ]
^ Ichikawa, Sanki. (1964).
The Kenkyusha Dictionary of Current English Idioms, pp. 153–154.
^ Ammer, Christine. (2001).
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, p. 153.
^ Walsh, William Shepard. (1908).
, citing The International Encyclopedia of Prose and Poetical Quotations from the Literature of the World, p. 586 Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae. xi, 3, 1.
^ Walsh, William Shepard. (1909).
Handy-book of Literary Curiosities, p. 211.
^ Pope, Alexander. (1901)
n.b., The Rape of the Lock: An Essay on Man and Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, p. 97; see line 201 in "Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot."
^ Walsh, William Shepard,
Handy-book of Literary Curiosities, pp. 211–212; n.b., see Canto vii in "The Purple Island."
Sources [ edit ]
Ammer, Christine. (1997).
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-395-72774-4; OCLC 228041670 Browne, William Hardcastle. (1900).
Odd Derivations of Words, Phrases, Slang, Synonyms and Proverbs. Philadelphia: Arnold. OCLC 23900443 Hirsch, Eric Donald Hirsch, Joseph F. Kett and James S. Trefil. (2002).
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-618-22647-4; ISBN 978-0-9657664-3-2; OCLC 50166721 Ichikawa, Sanki. (1964).
The Kenkyusha Dictionary of Current English Idioms. Tokyo: Kenkyusha. OCLC 5056712 Pope, Alexander and Henry Walcott Boynton. (1901).
The Rape of the Lock. An essay on Man and Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Co. OCLC 3147633 Walsh, William Shepard. (1892).
Handy-book of Literary Curiosities. Philadelphia: Lippincott. OCLC 247190584 __________. (1908). The International Encyclopedia of Prose and Poetical Quotations from the Literature of the World. Toronto: C. Clark. OCLC 22391024
External links [ edit ]