I am looking at finding the name for the rhetoric style which uses two contradictory statements, one positive and the other negative, with the first seemingly giving a sense of positiveness or neutrality to the other.

For instance:

"You are an intelligent person, but everything you think, say or do is stupid."

In the above sentence, the two parts are contradicting one another, but somehow the first part being flattering makes the second seem less insulting.

What would be the name for this?

  • 2
    A related phenomenon: "With all due respect, [grave insult]." Sep 16, 2012 at 5:22

1 Answer 1


It's a type of appeal to emotion, specifically an appeal to flattery.

The first part of the statement is an example of antiphrasis It can also be considered a red herring, since it is intended to distract from the negative second part.

Like a dissoi logoi, but with a different intention.

Related terms:

TV Tropes calls it a bait-and-switch comment.

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