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Left-handed language

A lot of language around the world and throughout history has been very detrimental to left-handers, whether it is the names we are called or the words that are used to mean “left-handed”.

Left-handed languageNames for left-handersCack-handed and similarPlaying up the right

Sayings where the word “left” does not fit

Sayings where the word “right” does not fit

Positive references to left-handed

left handed words

Left-handed language

Left Handers do not do any better in foreign languages, as we show below. This is mainly based on personal communications from people who live in the countries concerned and we cannot guarantee it is correct! If you have any more examples or any comments or corrections, please add them using the comments link at the bottom and we will update the main table as appropriate

Left handed terms by country and what they mean

Country / Language Words for “Left-Handed” Meanings
Arabic ShammaliA’asar Mohammad says: In arabic we call left handed people as (Shammali) or (A’asar) meaning Lefty for both words. The 2nd arabic word might mean Difficult.Marwan said:It is amazing to get to discover items and products that would have made our life easier. In the Arab countries left handers are called ” feshlawe ” or ” A’asar ” the first word means loser while the second means the one who faces hard times, both words shows who our cultures considers left handers as losers or people with less abilities, while on the contrary we have more skills but we just need suitable tools.
Australia Mollie Dooker Something to do with having fists like a girl
Belarus Liewsha Meaning:Sneaky or Mistrustful
Botswana Ntsogotlho and Molema In the Setswana language, if someone calls you NTSOGOTLHO they mean someone who uses a hand for the loo but if they say MOLEMA it simply means your left-hand.Generally, in Botswana people who are left-handed are considered very intelligent but in some minor tribes they consider us to be handicapped. Before, many would try and force their children to use their right-hand but that has since gone.
Bulgarian In Bulgarian we have three words describing a left-handed person – Левичар (Levichar), Левогер (Levoger) and Левак (Levak). The last one is considered very offensive. We also have a term called лефтерен (lefteren), which describes something that’s not working properly or isn’t strong enough. As you can see, the word is derived from English left.
Chinese In Chinese, the word left is sometimes associated with the “dark side”. There is a phrase that associated the evil with the word left “Zuo”. IF I am not wrong, in Cantonese, the word left also means hindering. But this will require the native Cantonese speaking people to verify.Eva tells us:   I am a native Cantonese. I just want to verify that you’re right about the Cantonese saying zuo” it means hindering, in the way of something which is seen as bad.
Danish Venstre-hÃ¥ndetKejthÃ¥ndetAvethÃ¥ndet neutral, “using the left hand”, to be “kejtet” means to be clumsy, awkward (dialect): “avet” means clumsy, wrong
Dutch Linkshandig Lefthanded Another meaning of the dutch word “Links” but only in the dialect “Brabants” (from Noord-Brabant, a province of the Netherlands) is “inside-out”, especially used for clothing. Like in: “Je hebt je shirt links aan” (you are wearing your T-shirt  inside-out)
Finnish Vasenkätinen Vasuri Left-handed “Lefty”
French Gauche Awkward, clumsy
German Links, Linkisch Awkward
Greek Skaios Ill-omened, awkward Comment received – there’s no word like that in greek… the word is aristeros, coming from aristos, meaning someone who succeeds.
Update from Katerina in Greece:
I don’t know the word you display for left handed in greek althought I’m a native greek. Aristeros is more used, though the most frequent word is aristeroxeiras which literally means left handed. A rude way to call a left handed is stravos” which means crooked or twisted (I was often called like that by my grandmother when I was trying to help her in the kitchen, although she didn’t mean to be rude)
Hindi Ulta Haanth The left hand in Hindi is called “Ulta Haanth”, which literally translates to the opposite, wrong, bad hand. So much has this permeated that most lefties don’t realise what they’re saying, and wind up using the phrase themselves
Hungarian Hungarian language is quite straightforward: Right – “Jobb” (also a synonym for better) comes from the word “Jo” which means good Left – “Bal” (also a synonym for bad, or used grammatically negative meaning to positive word, for example: Balszerencse – “Left” Luck = disaster Baleset – “Left” event = accident etc….you get the point
Indonesia Kidal means lefty.   It is interesting because in my culture, kidal or lefty also means impolite.Halida from Indonesia tells us “I’d like to comment of the Indonesian meaning for the left-handed term. I’m an Indonesian and it’s true that the word for left-handed is “kidal”. But as far as I know (and I’ve asked my friends from various ethnic groups) it doesn’t have any negative meaning. The official Indonesian dictionary defines “kidal” as “being more skillful with the left side of the body (left hand) rather than the right side”. I am of Minang ethnic group and since a lot of the words in Indonesian language come from Minang language I’m guessing “kidal” in Indonesia comes from the Minang language, “kida” which simply means “left”, no negative meaning whatsoever. The Minang language itself, depending on the region, uses the word “kida” or “kedoh” for left-handed.
Iran Chapool Arezou from Iran tells us: In my country there is a word “Chapool” ,which means lefty. However, I would like to say that in Iran there is a goood concept about the left handed people and every one believes that left handers are more intelligent than others. This is the opinion which I have heard hundreds of times when people understand that I am left handed. I am 32 years old and I have never heard bad words but only compliments from the people around. Although when I was a child my mother told me to eat my meal with my right hand and it is not good in formal parties to eat with left hand. All I tried to say is that it is not all over the world there are mocking words aligned to left handers. I mean some countries have a positive assumption to the left handed people
Irish CiotógCitogCithogCloot In the Gaelic language, pronounced ‘kitt-ogue’ (as in ‘rogue’). Also means “the strange one”. The term is also used by Irish people speaking in English – it would be frequently used in sports commentary and there is a TV production company called Ciotog Films. Left or Stupid is the Irish name for left handers, especially completely left handed people. It’s slightly negative, meaning awkward…I cant work with you. some of my Irish relatives call me caggy mufty [not sure about the spelling!]. ‘Citeog’ is the Irish expression for a leftie. Nobody knows where it first started but its generally an endearing term and not at all offensive ciotógach = Gaelic (Irish) for left-handed
Italian Mancini Crooked, maimed Italian for left side is “sinistra”; a like term for sinister.
Update from Esra:
Left handed in Italian is actually either   MANCINO (for male )   and MANCINA ( for female).. Mancini is plural form of Mancino which is male.So you should use both il MANCINO (male)   la MANCINA (female).
Japanese I’ve been learning Japanese; the Japanese for left-handed is “hidari kiki” which as far as I can gather has no negative connotations. Hidari-kiki has no negative connotations, and ‘southpaw’, from the American Baseball term is also often used. An obsolete term, ‘gitcho’ is no longer used, on the assumption that it was derogatory since there was no equivalent term for right-handed. However, the possible origin of the term itself shows no particular bias – the word ‘gitcho’ is the name of the stick used in a Heian era stick and ball game, and ‘hidari-gitcho’ is simply the word used for hitting the ball with the stick in the left hand.
Kenya Njenga in Kantas tell us “Did you know Maasai name for a left hander means a monkey?”
Korean Oen right – Oreun(in Korean). It means right, correct (it is like English ‘right’). Also, Oreunson(right hand) is often replaced ‘Bareunson’, its mean is perpectly same ‘right’. It is very interesting. left – oen(it sounds like ‘when’) It means ‘wrong’, ‘bad’ in old Korean. It is used in Korean proberb sometimes
Latin Sinister Dexter On the left-hand side On the right hand side (dextrous)
Malaysia In Malaysia, our local language Bahasa Melayu (Malay Language) term left-handedness as Kidal. (“ki” as in KEY and “dal” as in “DAHL” like Roald Dahl)
Mexico Chueco Literally, “chueco” means twisted or non-straight.
Northern Ireland I’m from a small town in Northern Ireland where a lot of our dialect is Ulster-Scotch. Every time I went to write, or do anything with my left hand I was called “KITTER FISTED” or “AWKWARD ANNIE”! In fact, I’m only 29 but went to seconday school with a lefty who had the ‘devil beat out of him’and was forced to use his right hand. Oh the ignorance of it all….!!
Norwegian Kjevhendt Crooked-handed (also advised to us as keivhent, left-hander) In Norwegian it’s more common (and correct)to say “venstrehendt” instead of keivhendt (kjevhendt) “Venstrehendt” simply means left handed as opposed to “høyrehendt” which means “righthanded”.
Philippines Kaliwete Unfortunately, it also has another negative meaning like the other languages. When someone is a “kaliwete,” or mentioned to be “nangangaliwete” (present tense verb form), it can mean that a person is a two-timer or is being unfaithful.
Poland In polish language lefthanded mean leworÄ™czny( correct) also people use words as: maÅ„kut, Å›maja, lewus. The last phrases are offensive for lefthanders. Leworeczcy or mankut in Polish, meaning:illegalUpdate from Paul: You’re wrong – there’s no such word like leworeczcy” or mankut” ( maÅ„kut” is correct). canIf you want to say that something is illegal, you use word lewy” which means left” in english
Portuguese canhoto Portuguese “canhoto” meaning; lacking ability or physical co-ordination; clumsy; badly done or made “Canhoto” is a popular name for the Devil here in Portugal and there are many superstitions and even popular festivities in which Canhoto appears as the Devil himself, in rituals such as “queimar o Canhoto” (“burning the Canhoto”), in some regions, a kind of Halloween. Also, when speaking of a potentially terrible event or a bad omen it is a Portuguese traditional gesture to knock three times on wood with the right hand and say “Diabo sejas cego, surdo e mudo! Lagarto, lagarto, lagarto sejas canhoto!” which translates roughly into “Devil be blind, deaf and mute! Lizard, lizard, lizard be left-handed!”. This is probably so because by cursing the Devil to be left-handed it will prevent him from doing harm so efficiently, as is a popular misconception to believe left-handed to be awkward and clumsy. There is also another popular saying – “Figas Canhoto!” (usually accompanied by the gesture of hooking the right forefinger over the (right) thumb which is traditionally used to ward off evil, jinxes, the Devil), “Figas” being the plural name of said gesture and Canhoto the Devil himself. In Portugal we also have the word “Esquerdino” which indicates “someone who habitually uses the left hand”, which is better accepted because “canhoto” is a derogatory definition, but is best used on a daily basis.
Romanian Stângaci which means “left-hander” as well as “unskillful”
Russian in russian LEVSHA.it is meaning not trustworthy.in Ortodoxy church left side is a women`s side In Russia classmates  often say about lefthanders: “Левша-кривая душа”.It means, lefthander has a wry soul 😉 Liefshá,liewshá and lifshá are lefties in Russian and meaning:not trustworthy and sneaky.The variant:na lievo,meaning:sneaky
Scotland I’m Scottish and up here left handed people are called corrie-fisted. It comes from the Gaelic cearr meaning left, or wrong hand. There are also some local dialect versions, such as caurrie-haundit and corrie dukit.
Serbian In Serbian we both write and read it the same-LEVORUK if it’s a male or LEVORUKA if it’s female.And that literaly means LEFT HAND!
Spanish Zurdo Siniestro Chueco Reverse – No Ser Zurdo = Clever. Not usually used in an insulting way. In Argentina, the “zurdos” are seen as quite intelligent people In spanish right handers are called “diestro” (which means= able), and siniestro means creapy, freak TwistedAnother word for lefthanded in spanish is ZOCATO. This means the fruit before is ripe, when is yellow and rough
Swahili left is kushoto, or weak
Swedish vänsterhänt left-handed. According to my etymological dictionary the word “vänster” (“left”) originally meant “the favourable [side]”, and is related to the word “vän” (“friend”). So, maybe you should add a list of languages where the word “left” actually is a positive one! :-)Linnea says: Here in Sweden I have heard another word for lefty that is less nice than the common word vänsterhänt” and that is felhänt” which means wrong-handed.
Turkish Solak From Esra: Turkish Solak is correct but doesn’t have any other meaning. SOL’s mean is Left in Turkish. Together with AK it means left side user. There is no any other meaning as clumsy or something, just left -side user.
Aysun tells us: “There is not even a single   word in Turkish that insult left handed people”
Ukrainian Lifshá Meaning:Sneaky or Mistrustful
Venezuela MochoLa Mocha Adolfo tells us: Here in Venezuela we often use the term mocho” to refer to a lefty, or la mocha”, to refer to the left hand. Mocho” would roughly translate as maimed”, or awkward, clumsy” or stuff like that, and la mocha” would be something like the maimed (hand)”.
Wales When I was young in Wales I was often referred to as being “llaw bwt” i.e. stump handed. Not very flattering, but as I didn’t speak Welsh at the time it didn’t really mean anything to me! Also the Welsh for LEFT is CHWITH, and if something is O’I CHWITH it is wrong, or out of place

If you have any more examples or any comments or corrections, please Click here to email Keith to let us know.

Names for left-handers

Researchers preparing a survey of English dialects found 88 different words for ‘left-handed’ (mostly uncomplimentary) in local use in the 1950’s including the following:

Buck-fisted Gar-pawed Left-kelly
Cack-handed Gibble-fisted Left-plug
Caggy Golly-handed Scoochy
Clicky Kay-neived Scrammy-handed
Corrie-fisted Keck-fisted Skiffle-handed
Cow-pawed Keggy-handed South-paw
Cuddy-wifter Kerry Spuddy-handed
Dolly-pawed Kittaghy Squiffy

More recently, we have also been told about:

  • Gollie Handed (Hull area in N.E. England)
  • Because their rudders were attached to the right side, ancient sailing vessels were docked to the left. This side became the ‘port side’. Today left-handers (mostly in the USA) are sometimes called ‘Port Siders’.
  • The term ‘Southpaw’ is derived from baseball. Parks were often built with the homeplate in the western corner of the field. When a left-handed pitcher was facing the batter, his throwing arm would be the closest to the south, thus the term ‘Southpaw’ was coined. Another name in America for a left hander playing baseball was to call a left handed batter was a hooker….
  • When I was growing up in Warwickshire, UK, left handers were always referred to as Keggy or Kack Handed (or sometimes Peg Handed). I still tend to refer to someone left handed  as Keggy!
  • After reading about other names for left handed, I would like to add SCRAMMY, used in Bristol, UK
  • We actually call it Corrie Fisted, but this derives from the name ‘Kerr’ (my surname!).   The Kerr family inthe Borders region were mostly left handed – in fact, the built their houses and castle’s with a left handed bias (spiral staircases the ‘wrong’ way round so that they could fight with their swords and defend on the stairs).
  • Another name for being left handed is….Taggy handed which is used in Lincolnshire, UK
  • In Ancient Hebrew, left-handers were called “Eetair yad y’mini”, i.e.”constricted right-hand”.   Ouch!
  • Born and raised in central Birmingham,  I  was always called  CAGGY-HANDED as a child – yet another nickname?
  • In Fife, Scotland we use corrie fistit (fisted)
  • My wife is from the north -east and she calls me cuddy handed and here in Yorkshire I’m cack – handed
  • In some parts of the UK (I always thought it was a Scottish term, but a bit of Googling reveals it may be Irish in origin) Catholics are referred to as Left Footers”, according to what I found out, it seems the Catholics used spades (possibly for turf or peat cutting, possibly just generally), with a lug for putting your left foot on whilst digging, whilst the Protestants used spades with the lug on the right.
  • In America, a left-handed snowboarder is called “Goofy,” and a lefty board is called a “Goofy Board.”   This is because the board is designed to slant in the opposite direction of righty boards.
  • The same goes for surfing, in the USA a left handed )footed) surfer is called goofy foot. The right foot is forward and the left is used for steering.
  • I grew up in Leicestershire   and was called ‘cack-handed’ and ‘corky dobber’   I’ve never heard the latter since, but my mother used it, as an affectionate term.
  • Widdershins is another, meaning anything against the ‘norm’ e.g. anti-clockwise or, indeed left-handed

If you have any more examples or any comments or corrections, please use the comments link at the bottom to add them.

Cack-handed and similar

This is a name that is still in common usage in the UK and seems to have variants all round the world. It is actually quite offensive and one explanation I have found is:

The direct association is with cack, another fine Old English term, for excrement or dung. Cachus was Old English for a privy, and both words come from Latin cacare, to defecate. It almost certainly comes from the very ancient tradition, which has developed among peoples who were mainly right-handed, that one reserved the left hand for cleaning oneself after defecating and used the right hand for all other purposes. At various times this has been known in most cultures. Some consider it rude even to be given something using the left hand. So to be left-handed was to use the cack hand or be cack-handed.

Not very nice! We have also been advised of other similar usages…

  • In Thailand we do not have any nick name for the L/H but we have one word to amuse the L/H people that “E SAI PAI KEE ” it’s mean the people who use the hand which touch the [excrement]

Playing up the right

A more subtle way of downplaying left-handedness is by praising the right. Thus we have:

  • Dextrous, dexterity  – skillful in performing tasks, especially with the hands – from the Latin “dexter”: right.
  • Ambidextrous – having two right hands.
  • Adroit – skillful – from the French “droit”: right.
  • The Queen’s motto: Dieu et mon droit – God and my right
  • To sit on the right hand side of someone is an especially favoured position.

On the other hand! – Here is the etymology of the word left from Wiktionary: From Middle English, left, lift, luft; from Anglo-Saxon, left, lyft lit. worthless, weak. Says it all really! The English word “adroit”   meaning skillful, comes from the French ” a droit,” meaning to the right. ~~likewise,~~ The English “maladroit” meaning clumsy comes from French “mal a droit,” literally meaning “bad at right.”

Sayings where the word “left” does not fit

Might is left-handed Wait for Mr Left to come along The divine left of Kings
His heart is in the left place He’s not in his left mind It will all come left in the end

Sayings where the word “right” does not fit

Right in the lurch He was right at the post The right luggage office
Nothing but cold right-overs A right-handed compliment A man with two right feet

Positive references to left-handed

We have been hunting for positive language references to left-handed but are struggling to find any!

  • “Out of left field” (a baseball expression?) means unexpected and often novel, but it isn’t definitely positive
  • “The only positive use of “left” I know of is that “aristocrat” has the Greek word for “left” in its root, but then Greece was the birthplace of democracy – they may not have meant “aristocrat” to be complimentary either.” Unfortunately, even this ‘positive’ is flawed: – “Aristocrat is from aristo- meaning “best” and krat- meaning “rule”.   Aristeros does mean left, but it’s not the root here.” More on this from Catherine at UCLA… I was intrigued by your claim in this month’s LHC Newsletter that “aristocracy” has a root meaning “left”, but I am not sure you are right. “Aristos” means “best” (the superlative of “agathos” meaning “good”) and “kratia” is “rule, mastery”, and I think you may have confused “aristos” with “aristeros”, which means “left”; but, interestingly, “aristeros” is a euphemism (the Greeks were fond of these—thus the Furies were called “the kindly ones”, “Eumenides”). Since something on the left (e.g. a portent) was unlucky (!), one didn’t refer to it as such, but as “aristeros”—that is, using a fake comparative of “aristos”: roughly, “bester”. “Euônumos” meaning “of good name, honoured, fortunate” was also used.  So I’m afraid the ancient Greeks were as leftist as everyone else seems to be.
  • Have you heard anything about the Russian writer Leskov and his The Tale of Cross-eyed Lefty from Tula and the Steel Flea? You can find some information in English following this wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levsha What I can add to this is that Leskov was a lefty himself.  In  that time when he wrote his story about the  Levsha (Lefty) the word “levsha” (Rus. left-handed, lefty)  was used in reference to a bad, unskillful and poor  craftsman and one of the  implications of the tale was that even  a  bad  Russian craftsman  was better that an English one. But, lefty Leskov played some kind of a  trick with the word “levsha” because very soon after the tale had been published and read, the word “levsha” changed its meaning absolutely radically!!!! Ever since then, it has meant a skillful, artful, experienced, trustful craftsman. Nowadays a lot of workshops are called Levsha (Lefty) to attract more customers/clients because it means that very professional guys work there! :) So, at least we have some positive meaning of the word “lefty” thanks to Nikolai Leskov.

If you come across any more, please add them as comments to this page.

Articles on Left Handed Language

Left handed journalist Gary Nunn wrote an excellent article in The Guardian, Jan 2013 titled “Clumsy and cack-handed? Lefties are leaders, not losers

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114 comments on “Lefty language
  1. Sonja says:

    It is fun reading all the comments and browsing through this website. As a lefty, I grew up with righthanded parents and righthanded siblings, and they always made fun of me. When I set the dinner table, the forks and knives where on the wrong side. They always could tell when I set the table!

    One comment I read, I think is very true, which is that us lefties had to learn to do many things righthanded. That is why I always say that my righthand is more ‘developed’ than a righthanded persons’ lefthand. I am just used to doing more with my righthand than righthandedn people with their lefthand.
    People are always amazed then I explain the small inconvieniences of being a lefty, such as the knives, canopeners, and even a golfcap, where the magnet for the marker is on the right. I always reach for the wrong side. But all in all I manage being a lefty just fine.

    Another comment struck me aswell: I always want to make the cross sign in church with my lefthand, and was not allowed to! And indeed folding sheets with a righthanded person or moving furniture! It’s fun to read that other people have that too!!

    And I too have difficulties saying which is which, left or right. I mix them up quite easily.

    Sonja from the Netherlands

    • Carol says:

      I have trouble with directions too , never ask me for directions as i always say left even when I mean to say right . As for can openers ,forget it , i can not for the life of me use them ,thank goodness for ring pul cans nowadays . When i first started school many many years ago , i remember having to see someone ,they tried all sorts of tests ,and result was no point in trying to change her ,will do more harm than good. :)
      I wasn’t any good at hop tying as i had to sit the opposite side to every one else , but any job that needs to be done anti clock wise, i’m the person to do it . When knitting every thing is mirror image to the pattern ,as in if i’m knitting the right side ,it actually is the right .
      At work they know when i am on duty as the tick is back to front ,mirror image , i make know apologies for it it’s just easier to do . Just freaks people out sometimes lol

  2. Fionnuala says:

    In Irish a left-handed person is a ‘cithóg’ pronounced kith-og (long ‘o’ sound). There is no negative/derogatory translation. The word has only word meaning.

  3. Linnea says:

    Here in Sweden I have heard another word for lefty that is less nice than the common word “vänsterhänt” and that is “felhänt” which means wrong-handed… I am very left handed and have chosen to take felhänt as a compliment even when it’s not intended as one 😉
    Also, one of my teachers in high school took us to a church built around 1300 and showed us the ceiling paintings and on the left side they showed demons and devils and such while the right side showed angels. He also mentioned that at a time when men and women would not sit together in church the women would sit on the the left side, thus protecting the men from evil..

  4. Fergal says:

    Hi there. I would contest the Irish definition of “left-handed” or “ciotóg” as i had always understood there to be a more flattering and alternative meaning to it. In the Irish language cat is “cat” (i know, not much deviation there but it’s pronounced “cchot.”) The Irish for young is “óg.” So “ciotóg” means “young cat” or “kitten.” The reason? All kittens are left-pawed initially when they are born.

  5. Elizabeth Christianson says:

    Here in the U.S. we don’t have near the colourful array of nick-names for lefthanders!

    To each and every one of you, fascinating posts! I call myself lefthanded, but I only use my left hand to write, draw and perform some types of precision tasks while I use my right hand for sewing/cutting with scissors, lifting, tasks that use tools and machinery and the like. (I think I even flip a bird with my right hand…just checked and yes I do :) I have no memory of how my hands ended up learning to do the things they do. Something I do recall are the red lines drawn through various letters in words in essays noting the variation of slant. I became very skilled in backslant. :)

  6. Eva L says:

    Hello,

    I am a native Cantonese. I just want to verify that you’re right about the Cantonese saying “zuo” it means hindering, in the way of something, which is seen as something bad.

  7. Phlaptay says:

    In American Baseball, when a South-paw comes up to pitch or bat, it’s rough on the opposite team, but the sponsoring teams love it!

  8. Kitty Palmer says:

    I recently had the pleasure of reading my old primary school end of year reports dated from the late 1980’s, and all of them stated that I was left handed (as if my parents hadn’t noticed) but I was “coping with it”!!!! From the tones of these reports you would have thought I was disabled because of my leftyness. I can also remember being made to sit in a “special” larger and higher chair than the other right handed children. Not sure why but thanks school for making a child feel really out of place and displayed for it.

    Also my mother can remember the school offering to turn me right handed if she wanted….thankfully my mother told them to leave me alone and that I was pefectly fine as I was.

    • Mandy says:

      The health visitor tried getting my mum to make me use my right hand when I was tiny but my mum refused. The HV came to visit and noticed I was holding my cup in my left hand and commented on it to my mum and told her to put it in my right hand, my mum told her she had done that before and I just switched it right back so I was obviously going to be left handed and at that point the HV told my mum to keep putting it back into my right hand so I would have stop using my left one!! Like your experience Kitty you would have thought it was a disability!

    • Elizabeth Christianson says:

      RE: Your chair at school, maybe it was the only chair left 😉 Seriously, myself being left handed I sit at an angle and perhaps the chair afforded more comfortable seating. And, Bravo to your Mom!

  9. varun - india says:

    In the ancient Hindu culture, during a wedding, the bride would be seated to the left of the groom, as the female gender was then regarded inferior. this was probably because the left was regarded inferior. offerings to god (like flowers, etc.) were strictly made with the right hand. However, modern Hindu priests of today do not insist on the usage of right hand in religious ceremonies.
    We Indians eat with hand & consume a cooked vegetable preparation more frequently than a salad in a meal. Hence the former is served on the right side of the plate. people often tend to look awkwardly when I take the cooked veg. on the left side.

  10. Ezra Kaimukilwa says:

    I am not sure whether I inherited left-handedness, both my parents are right-handed, my two uncles are left-handed, my sister and my young brother are left-handed, and my step mother is left handed. It is strange that I use my left hand in all I do except in writing, this is because it is my father who taught me to write and read before I went to school, and so he discouraged me to use the left hand to write.

    In our community a left hander is called ‘mashoto’, this is neutral,meaning ‘the one who uses the left hand’ but the negative one is ‘mkono wa mavi’ which means the hand used in cleaning oneself after toilet.

    • Mandy says:

      I was taught in Biology at school that left-handedness was genetic so it is always hereditary. Left-handedness is the recessive gene and right-handedness is the dominant gene therefore you need 2 parents with the gene for left-handedness to produce a left handed child, this does not mean they are left handed as there may only have been one of their parents who had the gene but they have passed it on to them. Both my parents are right handed and so is my sister, however my maternal grandfather was a natural leftie but forced to use his right hand, and one of my cousins on my dad’s side is also a leftie so it is in both sides of my family, as both my parents had the gene they ended up with a left handed child. I have 3 children who are all right handed but my niece is also left handed.

    • karen says:

      Hi

      my mum and dad are right handed and my3
      brother and my sister im laft handed 1 brother
      and my grandperant were righthanded, so may be
      is some thing in the dna in fact if you look at the anceint
      egyptian gods the power rod that they hold is in the left hand
      and is more sacred than the ankh, look for your self and see
      karen

    • karen says:

      Hi

      my mum and dad are right handed and my3
      brother and my sister im laft handed and 1 brother
      and my grandperant were righthanded, so may be
      is some thing in the dna in fact if you look at the anceint
      egyptian gods the power rod that they hold is in the left hand
      and is more sacred than the ankh, look for your self and see
      karen

  11. Jane Taylor says:

    Dear Team,

    I can relate to Carole Nowells, my school experiences mirror hers, I too was hit with a ruler across the knuckles for writing with my left hand. It has left me with difficulty when I have to think about which is my left and which is my right. It would be interesting to know when Carole was educated, my experiences relate to the late 1960’s.

    My ex-husband and I are both left-handed, we both came from completly right-handed families and we had two children who are both right-handed, so left-handedness is not inherited in our cases.

    The fact that we were both left handed ment that we could establish a left-handed household (as far as possilble), eg toilet roll on the left side, cutulry draw on the left and so on.

    Things I find difficulty with, instructions and diagrams, they are always set out for right handed people. I get around this by setting every thing out as in the diagram and then reversing it all. Knitting patterns are the worst, it helps if you turn the pattern upside down. I learned to knit by sitting opposite a right-handed person and mirrored what she did. I find the written instructions impossible to follow because they are back to front for us left-handers.

    Machines and machinary are also a problem, even something like a sewing machine is designed for the right-handed eye to follow. The family do not let me near a tin opener because I always wind them the wrong way and break them. When driving we choose to park on the opposite side to a right-handed person, it is difficult when carrying objects eg furniture with a right-handed person because they will turn the opposite way.

    Have you ever done something as simple as folding a sheet or blanket with a right-handed person, it can be very frustrating ? I am sure most left-handed people have had documents and papers handed to them to sign angled to the right, pen placed on the right for them. People still seem shocked when I then reach across with my left hand take the pen and then re-angle the paper to the left to sign it.

    I have found lots of positives about being left-handed, we can be good at sport, quick thinking, artistic, we have quick reflexes and we adapt well, we have to it enables us to live in a right-handed world.

    Jane Taylor

  12. Carole Nowell says:

    When I first went to school my teachers used to call me cack handed and one of my teachers tried to force me to write with my right hand. When I told her my dad was left handed too I got a rap over the knuckles with the ruler for “being cheeky”. I can now write with my right hand as well (very handy when I broke my arm!) but no-one can read it except me!!!!! This experience made me cautious about advertising my “left handedness” whilst still at school. When I started work, one of my bosses was also left handed and he described us “lefties” as cultured, artistic and gifted” – which I much prefer.

  13. Jarrah says:

    My parents (both right handed) had two left handed (out of 3) children.
    Now they have two left handed (out of 3) grandchildren.
    One of the grandchildren has two right handed parents and the other has one of each.
    My sister-in-law wants me to teach her son to write, cut paper etc as I have neater skills than my lefty brother. My brother wants me to teach the same lad how to bat and play sports as he (my brother) was forced to play right handed and doesn’t want to do the same to his son. As a girl nobody cared if I played left handed.

  14. Sisyphus48 says:

    I really can’t remember but I must have been forced to write with my right hand as I’m a lefty in everything else and my younger sister is a lefty (I’m 62). People have always commented hold bad my hand writing is so perhaps it is because I’m naturally a lefty. Within the last few years I practiced writing with my left hand and although it is definitely slower the writing is more legible. I wonder what a right handers hand writing would look like if they were forced to write left handed when they first started to write?

  15. Ashley says:

    I remember when I was in kindergarden the first few times I tried to write my name I would always end up mirror writing, no one could seem to understand why though.
    Lucky for me they never tried to make me use my right hand. Or at least if they did I didn’t listen to them and just went on using my left, I didn’t realize I was different until everyone got into trying to write things with their opposite hands and they all used their left, I couldn’t understand why everything they’d try to write was so illegible with their left hands, so I tried it with my right hand and mine was actually half way neat. But, aside from that I knew I was different. I didn’t meet a friend my age that was left handed until grade 7. He still seemed different though. The only person I know besides my mother and aunt that is left handed and seems to share interests like me is my music teacher, I only know he is left handed because when I was writing he seemed to notice and point out that we were both left-handed.
    My friends even mock me sometimes for being left-handed. they will say “I’m ashley and I write with my left hand” or they will say they just don’t understand how I can write with my left hand and ask me why I do.
    The good thing is though, they seem to think I am much nicer than the average person and very talented when it comes to music and academics.
    They do think I’m clumsy though, which when you try to use right handed things when you are left-handed it may not work out so well.

  16. tom lockley says:

    hi, it is nice to hear from you, i am usually called gammy handed back in liverpool or being a lefty however i can use both hands except for writing. i don,t use my mouse with my left.i feel that i am more ajustable than a right handed person. as i am a retired tradesman i can use a hammer with either hand this makes me an all around person. having read a lot on my computer (including yours) my eyes where opened by so many famous people.i notice that sir francis drake was is not on thee lists. as i have been in his home on dartmoor now a convent the proof was there for you to read. i know a guy from sheffield who was as a small boy was placed in a lower class at school for being a lefty it seems to me the teacher was a fool. my school teacher named george williams was a cartoonist nown with the liverpool echo newspaper as gwil.he said i may be as the only boy in his class as left handed try not to smudge your ink when writing. he was a great teacher us boy,s loved him with his cartoons on the board in our spare time. i am [email protected]

  17. Mandy says:

    When I started school I had trouble with writing. I used to start writing at the right-hand side of the page instead of the left because that was natural to me. We also had to do 2-finger spaces between each letter which if you’re a lefty is not easy as you are having to write over your right hand to start a word, something that my mum brought up with my teacher when she told her that I was very slow at my writing! Mind you at least I was allowed to use my left hand to write, my grandfather was naturally left-handed but had his left hand tied behind his back and forced to use his right one!

    When we got into Primary 7 we got taught to crochet, unless you were a lefty! Our sewing teacher could not teach a left how to crochet so we had to knit while everyone else was learning this new skill. Talk about making a child feel inferior! Luckily for me my mum’s friend is very skilled at crocheting and she taught me by simply sitting directly across from me so my left hand was opposite her right one and I just copied her movements. The only disadvantage is that when following a pattern I have to remember that technically I’m doing it backwards so when doing things like armholes I have to turn it round in my head.

  18. nancy many says:

    a)I was lucky, my father worked in my school system and he arranged for a specialist to come in and teach us lefties and the teachers how to help with handwriting. My children are all right handed, so I could not help them with their writing.

    b) I was being tested in a visual behavior test and the tester noticed something she had never seen before, and that was that I did all fine motor skills with my left hand and major motor skills with my right. That’s how I adapted, no one could teach me left handed sports.

    c) I was Catholic and when they were teaching us the sign of the cross, I could not understand why they would not let me do it with my left hand. I still don’t.

    d) When a lefty cuts and eats his meat, the implements never change hands, but righty’s always have to change fork and knife to do it. never understood that.

    e)I learned to crochet from a right handed person so I hold the hook and yarn the way a right hander does it, but to make my crochet, I do it backwards to all the right handed people. I move the yarn and crochet hook in the opposite way to right handed people.

    f) I aways knew I was left handed, and left footed (always lead with the left foot), but I had no idea I was Left Eyed till I went shopping for camers, and I was limited to the few that I could use my left eye for the viewfinder. That was a wake up call.

    Those are my little notes of life in America left handed…

    Nancy

    • Liz says:

      Hi Nancy
      Apologies if this explanation has already been put forward but there are too many comments to read them all!
      I suspect that you were not allowed to make the sign of the cross with your left hand because the left was associated with the Devil, ‘the left hand path’ was ‘the Devil’s path’.
      Liz

  19. Dr Ben says:

    Saw a video of a Paul McCartney [Beatles’ fame] concert the other day…..’there was something ‘wrong’ [gauche..:-)]’….the other players were strumming the strings of their guitars with their right [‘conventional’] hands…but he was using his left[!]…..’so his instrument must have been a custom-built mirror image of a conventional guitar’??

    • Mandy says:

      Dr Ben

      You can buy left-handed guitars, but they are more expensive than a conventional guitar. One trick that some people use is to just to take the strings off their guitar, turn it round and re-string it the opposite way from ‘normal’ voila a left-handed guitar.

      • Bob says:

        Of course the most well known example of turning the guitar over and re-stringing it is Jimi Hendrix, considered by most to be the best rock guitarist of all time! I was watching a documentary about him, and although he played his own guitar like this, he would go out to clubs and use a right handed guitar or bass in the conventional way…..he was just a genius, if you ask me!
        The other day i was looking at bass players on You Tube, and there is a girl who plays bass left handed, but strung righty, with the thinner strings toward the top! That is a bit unconventional. There was a folk music player named Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten that used this same technique on guitar. I’m lefty and play right handed bass and guitar. The only player I know of who does this professionally is Mark Knoffler of Dire Straits. I often wonder if I would have played better/easier had I used a lefty instrument from the start.

  20. Paul says:

    “Leworeczcy or mankut in Polish,Meaning:illegal”

    You’re wrong – there’s no such word like “leworeczcy” or “mankut” (“maÅ„kut” is correct).
    If you want to say that something is illegal, you use word “lewy” which means “left” in english.

  21. Miguel says:

    Hi all, I am from Costa Rica, in Central America, an here we use the word “zurdo” to refer to lefty and the word “zurda” to refer to the left hand,

  22. RACHEL NOVAL says:

    HEY SOME OF THE MOST FAMOUS PEOPLE IN THE PAST AND PRESENT ARE LEFT HANDED…
    SO THERE WATCH OUT RIGHT HANDERS…

  23. Marwan says:

    It is amazing to get to discover items and products that would have made our life easier. In the Arab countries left handers are called ” feshlawe ” or ” A’asar ” the first word means looser while the second means the one who faces hard times, both words shows who our cultures considers left handers as loosers or people with less abilities, while on the contrary we have more skills but we just need suitable tools.

  24. Dave Miller says:

    Not sure if this is the right place to make this comment, but in heraldry, “right” is “dexter”, left is “sinister”. Another negative association with leftness and left handedness.

  25. Adolfo says:

    Here in Venezuela we often use the term “mocho” to refer to a lefty, or “la mocha”, to refer to the left hand. “Mocho” would roughly translate as “maimed”, or “awkward, clumsy” or stuff like that, and “la mocha” would be something like “the maimed (hand)”.

  26. Spud the 100% lefty says:

    WOW! Nice to know how we get so badly treated in these cultres! Hmmmmm… I wonder if we will be slaves! haha it’s weird why in english it just means the other side to your right or is it the hand of the devil? Either way LEFTY’S RULE!

    My nickname (spud) means left handed! spuddy handed (well sorta!)

    To all left’s HI BROTHERS/SISTERS!

    • cat says:

      hi spud im a lefty handed too ha ha

    • Marty says:

      Perhaps Obama can have a pitch and putt hole and a basketball hoop ilstanled on Air Force One, so that he can indulge in all three of his favorite activities as POTUS while on Air Force One (jetting around, playing basketball and golfing).

    • Bob says:

      We were not slaves in early societies, I think we were just put to death! (Yikes!)
      I guess if that was the penalty, I’d switch….but not for any other reason.

  27. Mohammad says:

    In arabic we call left handed people as (Shammali) or (A’asar) meaning Lefty for both words. The 2nd arabic word might mean Difficult.

  28. admin says:

    We have a had a lot of interest in this page and loads of comments from people sent by email so we will keep adding to the content. We ARE still struggling to find positive language references to lefthanders though – can you help?

  29. Lefthander says:

    There must be some really positive references to us somewhere out there? I hope people will add more as comments to this page.

  30. Lefthander says:

    This was really interesting – amazing how we always get so badly treated in all these languages!

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Lefty language"
  1. […] pejorative connotations of lefthandedness confined to English or to Western culture. The web site Anything Lefthanded lists put-downs in 39 different countries. When I visited Pakistan last spring, I tried mightily to […]

  2. […] the left handed to hold toilet paper for the same function. This is the origin of the term “cack-handed“ __________________ I am hopelessly in love with You, no point giving me advice. I have […]

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