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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When I was 55 I fractured my right wrist. My left hand took over for all tasks except handwriting. As soon as my cast was off and I was back to "normal", my left hand lost all its abilities. Funny thing, I had broken my wrist two days before first grade in 1958. I had to learn to write with my left hand. Never really got the hang of it and was mortified getting a C in penmanship. I had already learned to write with my right hand when attending kindergarten.


No one tried to change my left handedness even tho' I was of that decade when it was considered something that should be done.
In some ways, it made me a little special. My favorite uncle is left handed and he was considered a unique man, he's in his mid-80's now.
I do do some right handed things; swing a bat or a golf club right handed, strum a guitar either way. I am a hairdresser and I use right handed scissors to to cut hair in my left hand. That actually takes a little cleverness to do that cause of the relationship of the thumb to the scissors. I Can Not cut paper with my left hand . I have no idea why, I have to do that right handed.
Other than those things that I can think of off the top of my right brain-ness, that's about it.
Of course... Us Lefties are special. (a wink and a nod)


I was one of those kids who got their wrist slapped for using the left hand to write. I am ambidextrous, my mother was and her mother was. I can write upside down and backwards with the left hand while writing correctly with the right. Two out of three sons are lefties!


I am an almost 70 year old female who is very left-handed. My mother was left-handed and my brother is. I've never had a problem with it at all, probably because it's the only way I've ever known. I've also never understood why others seem to have so many problems with it. I use scissors with no problem and have good hand-writing. I also have the ability to write backwards from right to left on paper, which may or may not have anything to do with being left-handed, but I've always wondered about that.

When i said

When I said supposed I was commenting on the fact that during my research I read that there was a lower number of female left handed people versus male I'm a straight female like anybody cares I guess I'm reposting because it's the left handedness in me.

I dont get it

I'm left handed. I'm smart, and great looking and also a female rarity supposed. . My parents were right handed. I had twin sisters born after me right handed. But I know I'm a great good person. I guess or wonder if your teachers in school saw/- your left hand and thought wow- she could be something...we don't like her


I usually do write with my left hand while other activities are performed by right hand. What Am I? leftie? or rightie?


The Editors's picture

It sounds like you are what is called “mixed-handed” or “cross-dominant” – preferring one hand for certain tasks and the other for other tasks. Those who are truly ambidextrous are able to use either hand equally well for any task.


I am 65 and am a lefty to the core. Nuns tried to change me but my mom wouldn't let them. I have beautiful handwriting after years of writing over the top of my paper, now I turn my paper sideways and it works well. Plus pens have come a long way since the 50's, which helps. Now irons come with the cord down the middle of the back instead to on the right, but measuring cups are still a pain since I have to switch them to my right hand to read. I little perk is that the typewriter (keyboard) was invented by a lefty so all the major letters are on the left side making it easier for me to type. All in all I believe lefties are smarter because we have learned to adapt to scissors, spiral note books, measuring cups, door knobs, you name it we have adapted. Wouldn't change being a southpaw for the world.

proud to be left-handed!!!!

I am a lefty, my husband is right-handed, we have three kids, two are right-handed and the middle son is left-handed, my two right-handed kids are left-eye dominate and my lefty son is right-eye dominate. My kids are so messed up when go shooting with my husband. I am baby of 11 kids and I am the only left-handed in the family. Mom and Dad were both right-handed!

Left Eye Dominant

I took archery lessons for the first time at the age of 61. The guy started us out with just a "string bow" and asked us to hold it up like we were going to shoot the arrow. He came up to me and told me I needed a left handed bow. I said I am right handed and he said just give it a try. For the first time in my life I could hit the center of the target every time! I also know why I had trouble shooting a gun. Left eye dominant?? Awesome and thankful I finally chose to get professional help.

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

I (left-handed) was told years ago by a gentleman who watched me write a check, "Oh, you're left handed. What I saw on TV last night (and you know it's true since it was on TV) was that everyone is born left-handed and stays that way until they commit their first sin". Love it.

I was born a lefty and am now

I was born a lefty and am now probably 65/35. I always wrote lefty until my mid-twenties when I was injured by scalding water. To my astonishment I was able to write legibly with my right hand after figuring out how to hold my pen between my thumb and forefinger. That's when I discovered that I don't hold my pen that way in my left hand. I cradle my pen between my curled thumb and and the first knuckle of my middle finger with the tip of my forefinger resting against the pen. This position gives me a natural right handed slant to my writing with the paper at a slant natural to right handers. People are surprised that my writing was done left handed. This pen position was self taught in grade school after many tears and frustration when learning how to write. I eat left handed unless I'm using a knife and then I hold my fork right handed. No awkward switching. I bowl lefty, crochet righty, mouse and caculate righty, shoot well with either hand. I never had a problem with scissors left or right. Growing up in a right handed world I just grab whatever and try with either hand and go with the one that works best without stopping to think about it. This article actually made me stop and think about which hand I use for different tasks. Lefties are the lucky ones in adaptability.

Merry Christmas

Well that's weird Cindy but we appreciate you .. jk Merry Christmas

Lefty life

As a left handed person, while learning to write, I wrote in amost perfect mirror image. You had to hold my paper up to a mirror to read it. Once I figured out, by myself, the cause I was able to make the correction. The cause: when the teacher demonstrated writing a letter - like a "B" - she would say "draw a line and then start at the top and draw a loop out and away and then back in." I saw her move out and away from her body, so I did the same. But away for her was to the right, for me it was to the left. I also wrot from the right side of thr paper to the left - so I could see what I was writing. I also flipped any notebook over because the note book binder rings got in the way. But like I said, once I realized I was different, I learned to adapt and reverse the movements when being instructed in a new skill. But I still can't write in ink without smearing it. "Hire a Lefty because it's fun to watch them write."

I am mostly ambidextrous. The

I am mostly ambidextrous. The tests of "sidedness" usually end in a tie. I can write with my left, but undoubtedly it is better with my right. I use both hands independently, and often hide things from myself by slipping them into my left pocket without thinking!

I eat left handed, I throw

I eat left handed, I throw darts and baseballs right handed (although I'm accurate with darts no matter how I throw), I write left handed but play guitar and drums right handed. I favor my left eye and I have a gifted iq level. Studies show that people of higher intelligence tend to be left handed although being left handed doesn't mean you are by default of higher intelligence.

Left Handers Day

I am a fraternal twin; my twin brother was right handed and I (female) am left handed. I am told I have nice handwriting but I have to concentrate on it; I have a hard time ironing, opening jars and as a secretary my work station has always been set up for a right handed person. I learned to type using the numbers above not on the little numbers to the right. When I was little I apparently had a hard time learning to tie my shoes until a neighbour noticed I was lefthanded and showed me. I learned right away. It is nice to be different.

scissors were the best gift I

scissors were the best gift I ever received as a child. I'm quite crafty and was always making something. My dad got them for me. My sons girlfriend ask to borrow a pair of scissors. I handed her the ones next to me. Then noticed her frustration. She looked at me and said is it me or is something wrong with these scissors. I laughed and said welcome to my world.

Always a Lefty

When I was a baby, my grandma (a former lefthander), was not allowed to stay that way because she was taught that lefthanded people would grow up evil. She kept that belief all of her life and even in adulthood she did not stay a lefthander. Grandma's belief was that it meant your soul would be at risk in the afterlife. So each time grandma babysat me, she would take my sock off my foot and cover my lefthand so I could not use it thus hopefully getting me accustomed to being right-handed. My mom told me when my parents picked me up and as soon as they walked outside their home my mom would take the sock off my left hand. Well, grandma did NOT succeed because I am still completely lefthanded and NOT evil LOL. My parents were both right-handed but used to have me stand across from them for most tasks-which worked for me in the majority of cases.

left handed

I started out being 90/10. As I got older, I gradually became 80/20. Now as an adult I am more in the neighborhood of 75/25. I haven't found many items that can be used by both even though that was trending in the 60's. The sad thing for me is not being able to knit, crochet, embroidery by hand. Doors and screens open for lefty's. I can dance and find that interesting. I shoot pool, but that's about all. I'm a writer and have been told my writing is beautiful. I like being a lefty. <3

Left handed

I don't have any problem knitting,crocheting or needlework of any kind. My mother-in-law, who was right handed taught me how to knit and crochet about 50 years ago. She was right handed, and I mirrored her hand movements.

Left handed

I'm left handed but I throw and bat and use scissors right handed


I also throw and cut with my right hand. I can't seem to bat right handed. Tried it once and it didn't work out to well for me.

Lefty life

I am mostly left-handed. Never thought about but can only use scissors with my right. The hardest thing for me was trying to learn to use a chain saw. It was too righthanded for my brain.

Lefty mostly

I was born a lefty. As I grew one of my parents friends ( who baby sat me) tried to change me to righty. I would eat with my left and she would change the spoon to my right. I did and when she would leave the room I'd change back to my left. Learned to cut with a right handed scissor in school. They never had left handed scissors. I always sit at the end seat at the table so I don't bump into anyone as I eat. I can do other things with my right but I wouldn't say I'm ambedextrous. I use my left hand most of the time.

Mostly lefty

I do almost everything lefty but learned early on to use righty scissors. I bat righty and use my mouse righty. Everything else, lefty. I hate spiral notebooks. My written pages are always smeared. Seeing another lefty writing looks odd to me. I'm a little sad that I'll never be a good calligrapher. :-(

I'm ambidextrous. My left is

I'm ambidextrous. My left is strongest but of course I had to learn many things the right-handed way because that's how the teacher did it. Sometimes I can use tools like a knife with either hand and sometimes it feels wrong with both hands. My youngest of 3 is a lefty. My Mom was born a lefty but her school teachers punished it out of her.


my mom was always afraid I was gonna poke myself in the eye with scissors when I was a kid. She should have tried to cut with left handed scissors. I always have smeared left hand to this day when I write, and still hate spiral notebooks. (A lot of the teachers did not want us to write on the back of the page) I could only really teach my younges to tie his shoes, as he is the only one of my kids who is left handed.


I have always been extremely left-handed , to the point when a doctor asked me to jump up and down on my right foot when I was a child I jumped on my left foot . I was mortified when he said " look at that she is even leftfooted " .My parents had to buy me my own crayons in kindergarten because the used crayons were slanted the wrong way. .My mother gave up trying to teach to knit after one session because I couldn't hold the needles " right " In high school it was always a battle to get the one or two left-handed desks .My two oldest children are right handed and my youngest is a leftie . Out of habit I would put his spoon in his right hand and he automatically changed it to his left .. I don't think you realize how you adjust to a right handed world until the first time you see a nightie struggle with left-handed scissors