All left-handed people are evil, worthless, mysterious and bring bad luck. At least, that’s what they used to think in former days. The Latin word for left is ‘sinister’, which has only come to mean evil or treacherous because of its leftist leanings.The old Saxon word for left was ‘lyft’ which also meant worthless. In France left is ‘gauche’ which also means clumsy and in ancient Romany ‘bongo’ means both left and evil.
The Latin for right, on the other hand, is dexter, leading to dexterous or skilful…..unlike those clumsy lefties. And to rub salt into left-handed wounds, the word ‘right’ shares its origins with ‘rich’ and ‘regal’.
It was thought that the devil was involved in left-handed actions, so much so that even the word ‘ambidextrous’ means right-handed on both sides, so that the devil’s side didn’t get any mention at all.
Even now, the dictionary still lists one of the meanings of ‘left-handed’ as clumsy or awkward.
If you find our Lefties grid awkward, solving the crossword on the left with the clues on the right, spare a thought for all left-handed solvers, who have to adapt to a right-handed world throughout their lives.
I know, because I’m one of them. Roughly nine per cent of the population are laterally challenged and we’ve had to become adaptable in this right-ruled world.
Being left-handed had definite advantages for me as a child. I got out of peeling the potatoes because the peeler was only for right-handers. Unfortunately, someone invented a two-way blade and I was back on spud duty.
In American slang, a southpaw is a lefthander, originating from the baseball diamond where the pitcher would normally have his right pitching hand facing the north side. Southpaw boxers are to be feared and when it comes to playing tennis, lefties can be difficult to beat – Laver, McEnroe, Navratilova and Seles, to name a few.
Many talented and creative people are lefties – Mozart, Einstein, da Vinci, Churchill, Armstrong, Clinton, Garbo and half of the Beatles!
I don’t mind being thought of as mysterious sometimes, but evil? Well, maybe a little when it comes to setting devious cryptic clues!