Left handed language

Left-handers have been linguistically abused for centuries! There are hundreds of (mainly abusive) terms for left-handers.

There are a lot of sayings where “right” is good and “left” is bad e.g., “being in your right mind”, “the divine right of kings”, it will be all right in the end” as against being “left out”, having “two left-feet”, “a left-handed compliment” (one that is not really meant!).

Even the word for “left-handed” in many languages is very negative:

Language Word for Left Handed Meaning
Greek Skaios Ill-omened, awkward
Italian Mancino Crooked, maimed
Spanish Zurdo Reverse – No Ser Zurdo = Clever
French Gauche Awkward, clumsy
Dutch Linkshandig To “have two left hands” means to be clumsy.
German Links, Linkisch Awkward
Norwegian Kjevhendt Crooked-handed (also advised to us as keivhent, left-hander)
Swedish Vänsterhänt
Australia Mollie Dooker Something to do with having fists like a girl
Portuguese Canhoto
Latin SinisterDexter On the left-hand sideOn the right hand side (dextrous)

For a more complete list and lots of comments from visitors see the Left handed language page on the Anything Left Handed website.

If you have any more words to add to this list or can help further with origins / meanings / alternatives, you can add them as comments on that page.

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