Left-Handed Facts and Folklore

Celebrate International Left-Handers Day on August 13!

August 5, 2019
Left-Handed Facts and Folklore

International Left-Handers Day occurs this year on Tuesday, August 13! To celebrate, here are some fun facts and folklore about being left-handed. Right on, left-handers!

Years ago, some teachers insisted that all students, including left-handers, learn to write with their right hand. Teachers thought that students would have an easier time if they were not “different” from right-handed writers. Some thought that using the left hand was just a bad habit. Some even slapped or punished left-handed kids who had trouble!


Now we know that everyone should use whichever hand is most comfortable. Today, 10 to 12 percent of the world’s population is left-handed. It’s not surprising that lefties sometimes feel “left out.” Plenty of superstitions and odd terms regarding left-handedness exist.

Left-Hander Superstitions and Terms

  • Many people believe that the devil is left-handed.
  • The Latin word for left, sinister, also means unlucky, evil, and suspicious.
  • The French word for left, gauche, also means clumsy.
  • A left-handed compliment is an insult.
  • A left-handed baseball pitcher is called a southpaw. (And no, there’s no such thing as a northpaw!)

Why are some people left-handed and others right-handed?

Scientists aren’t sure what causes left-handedness. Genetics plays a role, but it’s not the whole story. For example, identical twins have the same DNA, but it is common for one twin to be right-handed and the other to be left-handed.

Many left-handers have a symmetrical brain, meaning that the left and right portions of their brain are shaped alike. Right-handers often have an asymmetrical brain: The left cerebral hemisphere is often larger than the right cerebral hemisphere.


No matter the shape of your brain, or the hand you favor, here’s what we have—um—left:

Left-Handed Facts and Trivia

The Left Test

There’s no sure way to measure “handedness.” One of the most widely-used tests is called the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (developed in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1970s). This test asks participants which hand they most often use for a series of activities, including writing, eating, drawing, throwing, cutting with scissors, brushing teeth, and unscrewing a lid.

Left-handed Burgers? Baloney!

A full-page ad in USA Today in 1998 claimed that Burger King had developed the “left-handed whopper.” The burger had the same fixings, but they were turned 180 degrees so that they wouldn’t drip out on left-handed customers. It was a joke! The ad ran on April 1 (April Fools’ Day).

Lefties Day

August 13 is International Left-Handers Day. The tradition was started by the Left-Handers Club, a group in the United Kingdom. Club members around the world give interviews and play left-handed games.


Left-hander Heaven?

Lefties might want to travel to Left Hand, West Virginia, where there is a church, a school, and a post office. The village was so named because it sits on the left-hand fork of the Big Sandy River, not because of the way its citizens write.

Left-handed Reward

A few left-handers attending Juniata College in Pennsylvania have benefited from a scholarship just for left-handers established in 1979 by Mary and Frederick Beckley, two left-handers who met when they attended tennis class together in 1919.

If you’re right-handed, try writing with your left. If you’re left-handed, try brushing your teeth with your right. You’re likely to find these activities surprisingly difficult.

So, tell us below if you are a lefty or righty and what you’ve observed about this phenomenon called handedness!


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Reader Comments

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I am 98% left-handed .. the only activity, ironically, that I DO

... do w/ my left hand is BRUSH MY TEETH !! (and another unmentionable ADL) LOL !! .. In college, I wrote in the small college newspaper, a limerick about being LH'ed AND RED-HEADED !! For, I am in fact BOTH !

Left-handed day

My father was a frustrated Lefty (he was born in 1920). He taught his kids to bat & golf left-handed. When I was in third grade my teacher was ambidextrous & I aspired to be the same. Now, many years later I enter change hands without thinking. I still write better right handed but I can write with my left. I am very happy to be ambidextrous!

Left handedness

I was born in the late '50's and not only was left-handedness an inconvenience in school and was encouraged to 'go right' (which out of stubborness I didnt do), at home it was more of a GREAT inconvenience and a shame. Anything I attempted to accomplish and failed at, was viewed as a handicap ''because you're left handed''.
I am however possibly ambidextrous- I brush teeth, use scissors, bat, brush hair, and shoot right handed!
I only eat, write left.

In some cultures, a left

In some cultures, a left-handed handshake is meant as an insult (they wipe their backsides exclusively with the left hand).

left handed

As a child, I was not allowed to use my left hand. As a result, there are some things I do better with my left hand, some things I do better with my right. But I prefer my left when starting something new.

99% left handed

The only thing that I do with my right hand is use a knife to slice, meat, etc. and that I can do with both hands. Growing up, the nuns tried to get me to use my right hand. I couldn't do it and even turned my paper almost upside down and to the right in order to right. Like another person commented, I too have always been complimented on my handwriting. Thank you Sister at Our Lady of Pity Catholic School.

left handed

I am predominantly left handed but more often could be considered ambidextrous. I can assist my right handed grandson learning to write, but my right handed writing is as bad as a four year old's. I brush teeth with my left hand, I brush hair with both hands, I bowl with my right hand and I clean and dust with my right hand. And yes I am a smoker and I hold my cigarette with my left hand.

Right and Left hand use

I learned to write in the era when you learned to write with the right hand. But I kept trying to do things the other way round, and was made put it back right. I've since pretty much done things both ways. When I had my right shoulder replaced, and was in a sling for 6 weeks, I didn't have much trouble with switching. The only time I had a problem with this, was with filing. Depending on which hand placed a letter in the file, (entirely unintentional) the letter head went one way or the opposite way.


I write left handed but do most everything else with my right hand. I would play guitar left handed and can putt left or right. Kind of mixed up!

lefty day

I am left handed for eating and writing or drawing. Most other things I do right handed, I use right handed scissors. My right handed father, however eats and writes with his right hand and does everything else with his left hand.

Left handed

Love being left handed. They said I’m in my right mind!
I was made to feel special. Never was it a bad thing.

Left handed

We're all good looking! LOL! I remember my teacher trying to get me to write right handed. My daughter and her child are left handed. Mom nor Dad nor my 10 siblings were lefties. My knitting, crotcheting, embroidery projects are backwards when finished. My cursive leans to the left. I do everything with my left. I am almost 80.


I am both!! It turned out to be a good thing after I fell and broke my right arm and 2 bones in my hand. No problem, just use the other one! :)

Lefty Papa

I only eat and write left handed but do everything else right. Guess cause my parents were both right handed. I was the only child and even my cousins and family were all right so I learned their way on everything else. I have 3 children. My oldest (daughter) is a full Lefty. She does everything left handed.
She has 2 children and her oldest (my grandson) is a lefty.

Left Handed

My teacher in 4th grade - had me go around to some of the other classes and write on the blackboard. She wanted the other left handers to see what I was doing. I don't turn my hand as most left handers do.


Left handed people tend to have left handed friends at a higher rate than right handed friends. At least that is my general observation. I think lefties just like each other’s company more so than right. Handed folks.

Believe it or not

Hard to believe but people always compliment my handwriting. Thanks to the Catholic school nuns who kept trying to get me to use my right hand. I practiced handwriting hours upon hours to show them it was more comfortable with my left hand. I hate spiral bound notebooks and I prefer to read a magazine from back to front. I think lefties are creative and unique.

Left handed friends

There was this one glorious meal I ate with four other lefties! No one had to worry about elbow space at the table!


That hasn't been my experience as I've pivot met a handful of left handed people in my life and I'm 50.

It matters not to me which hangs you write with or use. I am not more comfortable based upon that.

98% Lefty

I am 98% lefty...the only things I do right-handed are use scissors because my grade school did not have lefty scissors for us and had to learn the "right way". I also use the mouse for the computer with my right hand so I can write down notes at the same time. I was in a baton twirling group when I was young and was made to twirl right-handed. They finally made me into a two-handed flag twirler instead because everyone was tired of getting bonked by my flying baton My dad was a lefty who was forced to learn to write, cut paper, and eat right-handed in school. His writing was never very legible but he became a very talented right-handed artist. I never even noticed he was a lefty until years later when I noticed he drank his coffee or drinks left-handed and I asked why. I always wondered why I was the only lefty in my family and found out I wasn't.

Lefty loosy Righty tighty

Yes, this is a true fact of schools frowning upon lefty people back in the day. It happened to my father who was a lefty. Back in the mid 1900’s they slapped his hand with a ruler to forcibly adapt to writing with the right hand. That is all he did with his right. Yes genetics are a serious factor as I and my sister as well as my daughter are lefty. I married into a family of lefty’s. All of my brothers in law are lefty and my wife and her mom are not. Our youngest son is ambidextrous and carries both our traits in his dexterity. And, being of 100% Italian, to take a left turn In Italy it is “ sinestra” in Italian!


I'm ambidextrous but, being raised in the 60's-70's, I was forced to be right handed even though my dad is a lefty. By the time I turned 20 I was back to "righting the wrong" and using my left hand again for writing. I catch with both hands, but can only throw with my right. I shave my legs and brush my teeth with both hands, but am only comfortable with a left-handed mouse.

Left handedness

I am right handed. My daughter is left handed (So was her father). My grandson is ambidextrous (And has Asperger’s). How does genetics play into this?


I am a lefty. I can use both hands to write forward, backward, upside down and sideways and both at the same time. Of course, the left is a little better. I use both hands equally but the hands do have a preference depending on the task..so ambidextrous...
Growing up I only knew of 3-4 people who were lefties. Later when I worked for the county social services office for 20 years I noticed that there is a very large number of people I came across (both customers and co-workers) that are left-handed so I want to disagree that it is only 10%. I have also noticed that many celebrities are lefties.....check it out.

Left handed

Out of us 6 siblings, I am the only one in my family that is left handed. My parents were right handed too. I am 57 and recall as a kindergartener back in 1968 and elementary student teachers pulling the pencil out of my left hand and telling me to use my right hand. I can print with both left and right hand. I peel vegetables left handed. I am ambidextrous in batting a ball, and was very athletic, was and am very artistic, a quick learner and did well in sciences. I am a nurse and seem to have a deep insight to people. I am very patient and very flexible tend to adapt to most situations quickly, such a moving, changing jobs, etc. I enjoy life and am very upbeat and positive regardless to others opinions. My 3 children are right handed and I have one niece that is left handed out of 13 nieces and nephews, so left handedness is very unique even in my family.
People tried to change me and make me right handed, but I am left handed- and I am perfect just the way I am.

Lefty for life

My brother and I are pretty much pure lefties. I learned how to shoot a long gun right handed. It seemed to work better for me. My sister is mainly a lefty, except that she throws a ball and would bat right handed. I had a first grade teacher, who was old when I was in first grade, blame any difficulties I was having with my studies on my being left handed. It caused a conversation between my parents and that teacher. I'm still left handed, so guess who won the debate.

Left handed question

my sister and I are left-handed. we married left-handed men. my sister had one child, a right-handed daughter. I had one child, a left-handed son. I am wondering if left-handedness if more often associated with males.

Left Handed is my Super Power!

I have been an advocate for left handers for as long as I can remember thanks to my dad always making fun of me for not being able to start the lawn mower on the first pull. I have since started a blog supporting the kids and their parents so at least they will have a fighting chance. I am also finishing up my first kids book, Lefty Leon Goes to School. It's a day in the life of Leon as his handedness creates numerous situations that us lefties can relate too!

I have also learned that lefties have a double bell curve when it comes to problem solving. When the children learn how to overcome the challenges of the right handed products of our world, they move up into the upper bell curve. The key is to make sure they learn this before puberty, as this sets their problem solving techniques in deep. After puberty, the young adult then migrates over to Bandura's theory of Behavioral Learning. Thus, the reason for my blog and kids book, trying to help the youngsters before the half give up. The world needs more lefties and I plan to make it my mission to help!

Left-handed rules

Both my sister and I are the only left-handed family members on both side of the family. Ironically, my sister and I have a beautiful handwriting (cursive) but my sister torque’s her hand to write above the line, whereas, I hold my pen/pencil below the line (like right-handed persons) that is what I find most unusual.

Proud to be a lefty!

I write, eat, and play guitar left-handed. Probably everything except sports. Sports are all right handed, but I broke my left arm horribly when I was 9. No one remembers if I changed after the injury. Funny thing: I bowl righty, but my feet land like a lefty. No one in my family at all, as far back as we know has ever been a lefty except me. I am so thankful to my mom. She fought teachers like a wildcat to make them leave me alone in my left handedness. Moms: Don't let teachers make your lefty hold their pencils and papers to make their letters slant to the right. It is what makes most lefties curl their hands all over the place to write. It makes their handwriting illegible.