South Paw Facts

The Latin word for left, sinistra, is where we get our English word sinister. Dexter is Latin for right, and translates as nimble or able; it's where the English word dexterous comes from. These facts illuminate the bit of linguistic bigotry, ambidextrous; it translates literally as "right handed on both sides."

In traditional religious art, Satan sits on the left hand of God.

On average, every ninth person you meet is left-handed.

During the renaissance, master painters had their pupils occasionally switch hands to elicit a freer, more imaginative stroke.


After much effort, I can find no data to substantiate this claim, and a lot of information indicating that humans are the only species of primate to demonstrate any type of hand preference. It is my opinion that this "fact" about lemurs is an error.

Lemurs are predominantly left-handed as a species.

As a percentage, lefties tend to outperform righties in academics. Although making up only 12 % of so of the academic population, over 23% of lefties are enrolled in high school advanced placement programs.

The word for "left" in French is gauche. The French word for "right" is droit.

How hereditary is left-handedness? If neither parent, or only the father is left-handed, the child has a 1:10 chance of being left-handed. If only the mother is left-handed, the ratio is 2:10. If both parents are lefties, the chance rises to 4:10.

In 1995, the television show HOME IMPROVEMENT, opened an episode with a "salute to lefties." Quite appropriate. The show is home to lefties Tim Allen, Richard Karn (Al), Earl Hindman (Wilson), and show producer Eliot Shoenman.

If you are a lefty reading this, take a moment to celebrate. If you had been a century or two earlier, not only would you have had no internet to discover lefty lore on, but you would have been burned at the stake for witchcraft.

One of every three American Presidents has been a lefty. In 1992, the American public had no choice. Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Ross Perot are all lefties.

Right-handed parents produce right-handed children in 91% of their pregnancies.

Southpaws tend to do better at recovering from stroke and other brain injuries than their right handed counterparts. Functions and skills usually found on only one side of the brian are often present on both sides in lefties.

In the United States, the American justice system specifies that a witness be sworn in by raising the right hand (just, nimble, upright, non sinister), and placing the left (sinister) on the Bible. The British Oaths Act 1888 specifies that a witness be sworn in by taking the Bible in the "uplifted hand", leaving the option of which hand to the individual.

Da Vinci and other creative types often wrote right to left, and in mirror script. The idea was that their writing felt more fluid that way.

In the earliest pictographs and hieroglyphic art, warriors are always right-handed. The ancient Egyptians, however, depicted hordes of invading Sardinians with swords in their left hands holding shields in their right.

A "Left-Handed Honeymoon" means an adulterous escapade.

Industrial tools ranging from meat slicers to drill presses are designed with right handed operators in mind. Some researchers believe that the risk of injury to left handers in using these devices is significantly greater than their right-handed co-workers.

Of all the primate species, only humans show a species wide propensity for preferring the use of one limb over the other.

If you ever find yourself in the area, visit Left Hand, West Virginia. The welcome mat is always out for left-handed tourists.

In the plant world, many vining plants, honeysuckle for instance, twist to the left as they climb.

Because their rudders were attached to the right side, ancient sailing vessels docked to the left. This side became known as the "port" side.

Studies indicate that trilobites, an extinct species of crustacean that flourished over 550 million years ago, may have preferred left turns over right turns. Bite patterns on their tails indicate when fleeing predators, trilobites turned to the left.

In ancient Japan, a man could divorce his wife if he discovered she was left-handed.

It is believed that as many as twenty percent of the members of Mensa, the high-IQ society, are left-handed.

In France, "passing the weapon to the left" means to die.

Perhaps the only culture to have something positive to say about sinistality, the Greek word for left, aristera, means "the best", and is where we get our English word aristocrat.

The slang term for "hand" in the Middle East translates literally as "a bunch of fives". The left hand is referred to as "little fives".

Romans had a pocket for their left hands in their togas so that while they saluted and shook hands with their right hands, showing their good intentions and that they carried no weapons, their left hands could conceal all manner of monkey business. Consequently, the left or "pocket" hand came to be thought of as sneaky or "underhanded".

At least four generations of the English monarchy are lefties: Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Prince Charles, and Prince William.

Bob Dole, a natural right-hander, was forced to switch to his left by a war injury.

The handedness of 100 heterosexual and 94 homosexual men was compared in a study conducted by Guy's Hospital in London. The study found nearly twice as many left-handed and ambidextrous men in the gay group as the strait.

Most seashells curve to the right. However, it is the rare left-curving seashells that are prized by collectors.

The ancient Roman colloquialism, "left-handed whore", was the Latin term for masturbation.

Criminologists take note: two infamous southpaws are Jack the Ripper and the Boston Strangler.

It is estimated that 70 percent of the Punjab tribe of Fiji use their left hand by preference. Other groups of indigenous people that show high incidences of left-handedness can be found in South America, Africa, and Australia.

According to certain longevity studies, lefties have a shorter life span, on average, than righties. sixty-six years as opposed to seventy-seven.

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