minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sat Apr 23 16:18:55 EDT 2005

>To add to the South-Paws' disgruntlement, in 1425 or thenabouts
>"lift-honded" seems to have meant (a) left-handed, and (b) maimed.  And to
>make it worse, this comes from "lift-honde", which means (a) maimed, (b)
>impenitent, incorrigible.
>Not just clumsy: maimed and incorrigible.

>You sent me off to the OED, which has left me feeling even gaucher, if
>possible, adding paralysis and general worthlessness to the list - at
>least, if you happen to be a speaker of East Frisian. It does indeed seem
>that 'left' meant all these nasty things first, and only contingently
>became a name for a 'side' of something or someone. This works its way
>through to the main OED definition: 'The distinctive epithet of the hand
>which is normally the weaker of the two.'

Yeah.  The question then is whether in fact we ought to be looking for some
word that originally just meant "other" or something, with which to replace
"left" as the side of things that isn't "right".

Not having the OED to paw, does "left" as in "left over", "left out" and so
on come from the same place?

>But isn't there a ray of hope here? Because for me, the hand which is
>normally (in fact invariably) the weaker of the two is my right hand. So
>my left hand is also my right hand, leaving me a spare to which no name
>can be attached. I rather like the idea of having an anonymous hand -
>perhaps I can use it to do good by stealth?

Sounds like a clear case for committing random acts of senseless kindness,
to me.  Go for it.  :-)

Minnow (still no hands!)

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