I learned something new today. When writing a post using the word sinister from Fandango’s One Word Challenge I came across a piece of information that I was not aware of. It came as a surprise to learn the Latin origin of the word sinister means “on the left side.” In English, the word and its derivatives have taken on negative connotations. This would seem to mirror the belief for hundreds of years that lefties were associated with the devil’s hand, demonic possession, or evil. Even more interesting is the fact that dexter, the Latin word meaning “on the right side” and its derivatives have come to be largely seen as positive words in the English language.
The fact that lefties were looked down upon is not surprising information. We’ve all heard stories of lefties being forced to use their right hand. In the late 1980s, my lefty sister had broken her left arm and her grade school teacher attempted to force her to use her right. My mother, who worked as a volunteer in the school office, was aware that righties were always given consideration in similar circumstances and ensured the principal rectified the situation.
It was the etymology of the word that I found interesting and thought I’d share. Here is the excerpt from Merriam-Webster that caught my eye…
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