Word Geek – Left

Left hand

The word left, as in opposite to right, has an unusual background. As you will no doubt be aware, left handed people are a minority compared to the majority of the population who are right handed.

But did you know that the word for left has less than complimentary origins? Proto-Germanic luft became lyft or left in Old English and meant weak or useless. Similarly, most Latin languages’ word for left is derived from sinister, which we use in English to mean evil or unlucky.

In medieval Europe, left handedness was oppressed and during the 15th and 16th centuries left handed people were frequently thought to be consorting with the devil, so much so that during the witch hunts being left handed could be enough to identify a woman as a witch! Goodness knows what they would have thought of people who are ambidextrous!

At The Language Factory, we don’t discriminate against left handed people and even have a few lefties in the office! The same goes for our clients, whether big or small, left or right handed we’ll offer you the same reliable and quality service.


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