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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Left-handed and LOVE it!

I eat, brush my teeth, and wash with my left hand. I throw balls with both hands. If holding a bat or tennis racket, right hand. Writing I can do with both hands, however, when I write with my right hand, you would need to hold the paper up to a mirror to read!
I'm not sure why, but people are always surprised when they find out I am left-handed. Maybe I'm supposed to have horns... :-)

Left and righthanded

I write with my left hand but i throw with my right hand. I can do alot of things with both hands only because as a young child i liked to practice evenly with each hand while doing everyday task. Now as an adult i am almost fully amidextrious , but my left has always been more percise and my right is stronger.

Cack handed

My mother was one of the first to be left handed, my sister is left handed/right footed, and I am mainly right handed/left footed. However I can write with my left hand, use tools, use left handed scissors should I need to. Sports are horrendous, golf, cricket, and archery all feel odd no matter which hand I use. My son is left handed, and at 2 years old my grand daughter still uses both hands, holding a spoon in her left hand, time will tell for her. Oh and for music lovers, the foot pedals on my electronic drum set are the other way round!

Left handed

I am the only lefty in my immediate family. I do have some aunts and uncles as well as several cousins who are also left-handed. When I was about to start school as a kindergartener a woman who knew my family, and knew I was left-handed told my mom she would have to work really hard with me to get me to write with my right hand. My mom told that lady that she would not try to make my write with my right hand, because it would be confusing and unbalance how I did things. The only things I can do with my right hand is use scissors, and a bat when I played softball because that was the only thing available to use. I love being a lefty.

Left handed

More creative then most. Writing eating only with the left, everything else is done with the right.

Left handedness

When I was a little girl, I learned, from my brother, who is right handed, how to play baseball. I'm a lefty in everything I do, but can't swing a bat, nor golf left handed. Since I learned to do these as a right handed person when I was small, it comes as natural to me as if I had been born a right handed person.

Left Handed

I normally am right handed, but I like to make my self use my left hand for different things. I find the more I use the other hand, the easier it becomes to do the task at hand.

Left handers

I was ambidextrous when I was young and in school. My mother was left-handed and a very strong willed person. The nuns at my school believed that it was wrong to be left-handed, if my right hand got tired from writing I'd switch to my left hand and the nuns would smack my hand with a ruler. Since then I am strictly right handed.

Once ambidextrous

Used to be ambidextrous but schools in the 60’s in Scottsdale frowned upon that. I had to turn my paper to the left as right handed students did resulting in ink or pencil lead getting all over the left side of my hand. (Lefties should turn paper to the right). I don’t blame teachers...it’s all they knew and left handed students were very rare.....am mostly still ambidextrous but writing with right hand has deteriorated as time went on.

Left Hand

I'm lefthanded and my birthday is August 13 .

Growing up I had to learn how to do many things righthanded.

I'm right handed

I'm a righty

Guitar left handed

In my 20's, I bought a guitar and took lessons. Note: I am left handed. The teacher didn't ask me if I was right or left handed. Lessons for awhile and then ended. Years later, I was at a concert and saw a guitarist playing their guitar 'backwards.' I then inquired if there were left handed guitars and was told there were and a right handed guitar could be altered for a left handed player. I still had my guitar and decided to have it altered. Then I took more lessons and although it took awhile to sort of flip my brain for finger picking with my left hand (which finally felt like it should playing guitar) and playing the chords with my right hand when I took more lessons. Too bad I'd not known this when I'd first inquired about buy the guitar. Something for others to know who may be left handed and considering buying a guitar. Not sure about string instruments like a cello or a violin. Maybe someone else would know this. Great article above.

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!