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 right handed, but can

I am right handed, but can use my left in many situations;at work I could: run an air gun and trim plastic crisper pans with a pocket knife left handed, or right. I can eat with either hand, this developed because I had 9 brothers and sisters, 5 were left handed. Have you ever been stuck between a left and right hand sibling at the supper table.....it's a bruising good time. One brother could write with either hand, Ma said it was because he was lazy, he wrote with the hand that was closest to the pen....too lazy to switch hands. Of the nieces and nephews, 4 are lefties and 3 are righties.

I am left handed and do

I am left handed and do everything with my left hand except iron... that I do right handed...any particular reason for this?

I'd guess that it's because

I'd guess that it's because you are probably better coordinated to adjust the clothing with your left as you iron with your right.

I'm a southpaw and do almost

I'm a southpaw and do almost everything with my left hand. I do throw a baseball with my right hand. I have no problem using a computer mouse with my right hand. Scissors and manual can openers are the most painful things for me to use. When I was little, my dad was appalled that I was left handed telling me often that I was left handed in a right handed world. He attempted to force me to write with my right hand. I am thankful my mom stood up to him and allowed me to develop as a southpaw.

Lefties do it Right is my

Lefties do it Right is my motto. I'm a lefthanded red headed only child. My coworkers call me unique and say that explains things about me lol Living in a right handed world I always had to sit in a right handed desk. My elbow was always floating in the air as I wrote. In my view lefties write forward and righties write backwards. As an elementary teacher I've found it difficult to teach and model for righties. It's always a great joy to have a leftie enter my classroom for the year:)

Being born a natural lefty

Being born a natural lefty but growing up in a family of five right handed people I was taught to do everything right handed. (Eat, bruch teeth, throw a ball, swing a bat, bowl, shoot guns, hammer nails etc...) but everything still comes natural as can be left handed. Although I prefer to use my right hand to drink with and shoot a rifle.

I have found that most left

I have found that most left handed people are like me. Do a lot of things right handed. And are stronger in their right arm. I think it's from growing up around right handed people. Who taught us right handed. Plus so many things are made for right handed people. I can do most anything with either hand. Eat. Write. Throw. Bat. Hammer. Paint with a brush.

I am right handed. I wear my

I am right handed.
I wear my watch on my left hand.
I drink with my left hand.
I fish with a pole & reel setup for a lefty.

I'm a lefty and have observed

I'm a lefty and have observed the following:
I use a fork or spoon with my left hand, knife in right hand if cutting meats, when eating.
Right handed people can't agree on this one.
Some use fork in left hand, knife in right hand to eat. Some put the knife down and switch fork to right hand.
fun site

I noticed that too. But what

I noticed that too. But what I realized is. Not all left handed people do this. Just the ones who do some things right handed. People who do everything left handed do the same thing right handed people do. They swap hands

I'm a lefty and proud of it!

I'm a lefty and proud of it! Out of 5 people in my family 3 of us are lefties. My grandmother was forced to be a righty by a teacher who whacked her knuckles with a ruler when she tried to write lefty.
I write, eat, throw, open jars and cut with a knife lefty. I switch the fork and knife to cut. However I cut with scissors,use a manual can opener and deal cards right handed.


I do everything left handed.. when cutting meat the fork is in my right hand the knife in my left. when I'm done, I put the knife down and move the fork to my left hand. I cut my meat, one piece at a time and it drives myfamily crazy..

When I'm having dinner, I

When I'm having dinner, I have fork in left hand and knife in right. Eat with a spoon in left hand. If I'm carving meat, the fork in the meat is held with right hand while I carve with knife in left hand. It's because I would chop off fingers if I had to carve the other way round. No real control over right hand whereas precision carving done with the left, lol.

My mom was a lefty and her

My mom was a lefty and her teachers made her write right handed. She couldn't do anything with her left hand after that she said.
I'm a lefty and was never changed in school. That said, there are things that I can only do right handed....using scissors, using a baseball bat, playing golf. I dont know why, but it always felt natural to me to do those things right handed.

Been an extreme lefty for

Been an extreme lefty for more than 60 years (which means my right hand is there for wearing jewelry and balancing my body symmetry NOTHING ELSE!)...had a difficult time finding scissors and shears that worked for me, as I am a crafter. Problems with threading the sewing machines, too...it's too hard to get to all the hooks when you're trying to thread left-handed. Same with putting the bobbin in correctly. Desks in the upper grades were sometimes hard to work with, too, because of their tops being only on the right half of the desks. However, it was sometimes easier to do a left-handed lay-up in basketball, and softball was great IF you could find a glove to fit your right hand.
I've been told that 'natural' lefties are those who do not curve their left hand up and over their writing, but hold their pens, etc., in a way that is similar to righties except in the opposing hand.
Learning to crochet, knit, etc., was harder until I learned to sit opposite my teacher and mirror-image their movements.
You've probably heard the expression that "Only left-handers are in their right minds." It's also true that there are more lefties percentage-wise than righties in the art world...are we really more creative?

I am left handed, but throw a

I am left handed, but throw a ball and swing a bat with my right hand. My son writes with his right hand but uses his left for just about everything else. One of my daughters is left handed and so is her daughter. I am very proud to be a lefty!!!!!

I'm left handed but I also

I'm left handed but I also use my right hand for some things.
I eat, write, brush my teeth, and put on my makeup with my left hand.
I play sports with my right hand. It's seems I use my last for accuracy and my right of thing that need strength.

I am one of 6 kids. 4 of them are brown eyed and right handed and 2 of us are blue eyed and left handed. Both our parents were brown eyed and right handed. It seems in our family there may be some connection between the two.

My Mother had 11 chldren and

My Mother had 11 chldren and everyone is right handed but one, ME .I told her she ran out of everything when she had me that is why Im left handed. I can not do much of anything with my right hand...
The biggest problem that really upset's me about being left handed is the bread wrapper ties. they are always twisted for right handed people ... So when I get home from the store I take all of the ties off and but a clip on the bread , cause everyone else in my home twists them to the right too...

left- handers have rights too!!

Left-handed and proud to be

Left-handed and proud to be in my right mind!

I'm a lefty and my teacher in

I'm a lefty and my teacher in the first grade hit my hand because she didn't want me writing with my left hand. I was hit everyday with a ruler, I still hate her for doing that to me and I don't use hate ever. I was just a child and this was in the early sixties.

My oldest son should have

My oldest son should have been left handed. Every time he picked up something w/ his left hand I w/ take & put it in his right hand. Big mistake. He has been plagued w/ stomach issues for 40 years. My youngest starting using his left hand. I left him alone. He's never had a stomach problem. My Daddy should have been left handed. He had stomach issues also.

I was also slapped with a

I was also slapped with a ruler daily by my teacher for using my left hand... She would tell me I was the spawn of the devil, because I was left-handed...

Because many things are for

Because many things are for right handed people, I have learned to use my right hand naturally, not even thinking about it.One thing still requires my right hand only- zipping up pants. I still can only do it with my right hand. I am very proud ,however, to be left handed.

Wow! It's so cool to see that

Wow! It's so cool to see that there's others like me! I write & eat with my left hand. I use kitchen knives, scissors, screw drivers & hammers with my right hand. I sorta consider myself ambidextrous bcuz I can write ok with my right hand.

I can write only with my left

I can write only with my left hand, play sports right handed except archery has to be a left handed bow. Eat, scissors, brush teeth and most other things with either hand. One hand may feel more comfortable than the other. As a child mom pushed me toward right hand and I started to stutter. She let me go back to left. I had a MRI based test to determine if my speech was right or left brain dominate and it showed to have both sides capable.

My grandmother was left

My grandmother was left handed, my mother was left handed, I am the only one of 5 sisters that is left handed. My first born daughter is left handed. I do some things right handed, bat, golf. I use a quilting cutter with either hand. My teachers tried to change me in grade school, but my left handed mother put a stop to it..

I am the only leftie in my

I am the only leftie in my immediate family. I learned at a very early age to keep my elbow tucked in at the dinner table. The only thing I consistently do with my right hand is use scissors. When I was a child, my left handed scissors were always disappearing at school.

I am left handed but I play

I am left handed but I play sports with my right hand. I write and eat left handed but that's about it.

I think I am maybe 75/25

I think I am maybe 75/25 right handed, is this that will decide that?

I've always been proud to be

I've always been proud to be a left handed person,as i like being different from the rest..I always have been..When i do something and it seems backwards to others i say i can't help it ,i was born backwards(lefty).lololol