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.

Quotes and sayings about being left-handed

1. “If the left side of your brain controls the right side of your body, and the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body, then left-handed people must be the only ones in their right minds.” — W C Fields

2. “Let not the right side of your brain know what the left side doeth.” — George Bernard Shaw

3. “I may be left-handed, but I am always right” — Keith and Reg Milsom, Anything Left-Handed badges

4. “A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.” — Ecclesiastes 10:2

smudge-on-hand5. “I scan the room. Catherine is writing quickly, her light brown hair falling over her face. She is left-handed, and because she writes in pencil, her left arm is silver from wrist to elbow.” — Sara Gruen, “Water for Elephants”

6. “Life without left-handed people wouldn’t be right.” -1- C.R. Manske

7. “God made everyone right-handed, the truly gifted overcome it.” — Anonymous

8. “To be hated cordially, is only a left-handed compliment.” — Herman Melville

9. Inigo Montoya: “I admit it, you are better than I am.” Westley: “Then why are you smiling?” Inigo Montoya: “Because I know something you don’t know.” Westley: “And what is that?” Inigo Montoya: “I am not left-handed.” — “The Princess Bride”

10. “Everybody is born left-handed. You become right-handed after your first sin.” — Anonymous

Other pages in our Left Handed Facts Section:

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4 comments on “Left handed language
  1. Adora Koot says:

    I like this . It was very informative. I am Left Handed and Happy to be ..even though we Left handed people have are obstacles and downfalls

  2. Brenda says:

    I am looking for a novel which has wonderful plays on words. The only quote I can remember is “The left handed carpenter worked with a sinister dexterity” It was written in 1980s or 90s and I think the author was female.

  3. Bitten says:

    In danish, a disparaging comment would be “kejthåndet”. Kejt = clumsy, awkward. Håndet = handed.. so clumsy-handed.

    When people ask me: “are you “kejthåndet”, I reply:”well let me poke you in one eye with my right finger, and herafter with my left finger in the other eye – tell me which feels most “kejtet”..”
    then people shut up..

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