Etymology of Left-handedness (left) & C. Ar.laft (left)
From: The Egyptian Chronicles
Left-handedness is less common than right-handedness.
Left-handed people are more dexterous with their left hands when performing
tasks. A variety of studies suggest that 10% of the world population is
ETYMOLOGY: "c.1200, from Kentish and northern English
form of O.E. lyft- "weak, foolish" (cf. lyft-adl "lameness, paralysis," E.Fris.
luf, Du. dialectal loof "weak, worthless"). It emerged 13c. as "opposite of
right" (the left being usually the weaker hand)itself may have been originally a
taboo replacement, if instead it represents PIE root *laiwo-, meaning
"considered conspicuous" (represented in Gk. laios, L. laevus, and Rus. levyi).
Greek also uses a euphemism for "left," aristeros "the better one" (cf. also
Avestan vairyastara- "to the left," from vairya- "desirable"). But Lith. kairys
"left" and Lettish kreilis "left hand" derive from a root that yields words for
As an adverb from early 14c. As a noun from c.1200.
Political sense arose from members of a legislative body assigned to the left
side of a chamber, first attested in English 1837 (by Carlyle, in reference to
the French Revolution), probably a loan-translation of Fr. la gauche (1791),
said to have originated during the seating of the French National Assembly in
1789 in which the nobility took the seats on the President's right and left the
Third Estate to sit on the left. Became general in U.S. and British political
Used since at least c.1600 in various senses of
"irregular, illicit;" earlier proverbial sense was "opposite of what is
expressed" (mid-15c.). Phrase out in left field "out of touch with pertinent
realities" is attested from 1944, from the baseball fielding position that tends
to be far removed from the play. To have two left feet "be clumsy" is attested
by 1902. The Left Bank of Paris (left bank of the River Seine, as you face
downstream) has been associated with intellectual and artistic culture since at
However, the following Pre-Islamic Classical Arabic
term "laft" for 'left handed', (from the dialects of Qays and Tamiym tribes) has
never been explored.
sincere opinion the existence of such an earlier Arabic term
for "left" trumps all that was given for facts
PS. Happy left-handed day
August 13, 2012