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 a lefty and have tried

I am a lefty and have tried to do things like write, use scissors, eat, brush my teeth as well as many other things with my right hand & it's very awkward if not almost impossible. The odd thing is that things which require strength or extreme precision such as bowling, playing pool or shooting a gun I do right handed. Some people have told me that my brain is left dominant, since the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body & vice versa.... Who knows!

I am left handed. When I

I am left handed. When I started school , for a week "experts" from Peterson Writing stood on each side of my desk and watched my every move. It was decided that I was truly left handed and to force me to change could cause some mental illness. Lol. Today, I write with both hands. Catch with my left, pitch with my write. Bowl with my right but, from the position a lefty would use. I have difficulty using things like manual can openers.

I'm a lefty who is not in the

I'm a lefty who is not in the least bit ashamed of it. I think it's amazing they way I've learned since early childhood to adapt to the right handed world. Most everything is designed for right handedness, so it makes us lefties adaptable in life to be able to overcome the limits. Take for example the old hand crank pencil sharpener, oh my but I chewed up sooo many pencils learning to use it correctly. Same with scissors, I do most everything I can left handed, but I can use scissors with my right as well. Can you imagine a right hander trying to adapt to a left handed world the way that we have had to do to live in their world?

I'm a proud leftie! No one

I'm a proud leftie! No one tried to change me and I'm glad. My dad's sis has 2 of 4 kids who are lefties. My dad had 1 of 3 who's a leftie... Me. Of my 2 kids, 1 is a leftie. The lefties have ended there. I am very ambidextrous and so is my leftie son. Except for writing, I switch hands as I desire. I don't wrap my hand when writing and most people I work with don't even know I'm a leftie! I love my leftieness!

Only left handers can do

Only left handers can do this!! Put a pen in each hand and write a word forward with your left while writing the same word mirror image with your right hand. Write at each end of the paper and write toward each other! It should look like this: Tonya aynoT

I'm right hand dominant but

I'm right hand dominant but was able to pass your test. Right side had neater wrighting but both were clear.

Golly, the eyeballs of this

Golly, the eyeballs of this old Southpaw tried to find my ears and did not cross after reading your two-fisted writing exercise.

The furthest from my being a typical left-hander is that I do write without curling my wrist (probably because we wrote with ink pens in the forties) and I faced the picture with my left-shoulder... Bud

I'm left handed. I only

I'm left handed. I only write, eat, brush my hair, and brush my teeth left handed. I always have to put scissors in each hand to determine which hand to use. I'm not very crafty. I play sports right handed. I loved the few left handed desks that were available in college. I like the left handed note books too!

Ever notice how many lawyers

Ever notice how many lawyers are left handed? 1/3 of my law school class was left handed. I work in an office with 12 other attorneys and we are all left handed.

I'm a lawyer too and have

I'm a lawyer too and have noticed that as well.

as a lefty I've noticed that

as a lefty I've noticed that in any sort of work where a helper is needed especially for lifting and moving projects or materials your right handed partner will report after a period of time that working with another right hander is frustrating and dangerous....as a left hander your right arm becomes stronger than a natural right handers arm because all fine motor skills are done with the left and the right does all the lifting and holding....living in a right handed world is dangerous unless as a lefty you are willing to learn to use things like chain saws right handed, just one example but there are many....life is good

I am left-handed, but in this

I am left-handed, but in this right-handed world, I have learned to be a little right-handed as well. I cut meat with my right hand....but for the life of me, I can not butter bread or spread jelly with my right hand.....only the left hand will do!! :)

Definitely a lefty. I drive

Definitely a lefty. I drive people at work crazy by putting the computer mouse on the left side.

Two favorite random lefty-related stories...

Once, when working in a theatre company, in the middle of a production meeting, I realized that of the 18 people around the table, 11 were left-handed. Statistically weird, and perhaps an argument for the whole "lefties are creative" theory.

Second, the day before my first day of university teaching, I went into my empty classroom just to see it before the first day of class. The maintenance staff had emptied all the rooms to clean the floors, and when they put the desks back, had put ALL the left handed desks in my room, so the majority of desks were lefties. Kinda funny.

I am left handed but right

I am left handed but right footed. Always been this way. Sure would like to be a member of the club in the UK.

I'm left-handed when I sit,

I'm left-handed when I sit, but if I stand,I use my right. And when I play tennis,I have no backhand. Instead I have two forehands.

I am a proud leftie as well.

I am a proud leftie as well. They say that only left handed people think with the right side of their brain. Cheers for the Southpaws!

I am a leftie and so is one

I am a leftie and so is one of my brothers. I have always been told the Left handed people the right side of the brain is in control. and Right handed people use WHAT IS LEFT OVER. I am very creative and enjoy being left handed.

the only thing I do left

the only thing I do left handed is wright. Play ball /golf/drink/sew/everything except write. To bad

I'm a lefty. In high school

I'm a lefty. In high school I worked at a grocery, I ran a register. I had to learn to use it with my right hand, I got good at it. Still today I can only use a calculator with my right hand. I fractured my right wrist and I was in a cast. I had a hard time using the calculator with my left. I can do two things at once, write left and calculate right.

I'm ambidextrous. When is

I'm ambidextrous. When is ambidextrous day?

I've observed that many

I've observed that many creative people are lefties. Also good presidents. Perhaps that's why Clinton and Obama are lefties. They are to the left of centre.

I'm left handed all the

I'm left handed all the things that I want to takes or hold Its always left hand first.I remember when I was in primary school my mother do for me special "left armed chair" coz its hard for me to write in right armed chair.So Im proud to be liftie its mean Im special.

The Bible considers left

The Bible considers left handed soldiers superior to right handed ones. I believe it's due to the element of surprise in drawing a sword in battle.

I'm a lefty and I have

I'm a lefty and I have trouble using many kitchen tools. Especially older ones. Old ladles only have a pour spout on one side so lefties can't make it work. Very hard to ladle hot jam into jars using my right hand. Too many things to list here.

I am married to a lefty ,

I am married to a lefty , and he can not see the man in the moon. I started asking other lefties if they could see the man in the moon . 9 out of 10 of lefties could not see the man in the moon .

I have found that the world

I have found that the world is made for right handed people especially when it comes to tools and kitchen appliances...ever tried to open a can using an old fashioned can opener using your left hand? odd for me though is that if I play golf or softball, I do what a right handed person would do

I am a lefty, and cannot do

I am a lefty, and cannot do much of anything with my right hand. I think it is funny that the article says that only 10-12% of the world's population is left handed and then goes no to state that it isn't uncommon for identical twins to have opposite predominant handedness. If there are only 10-12% of us out of the total population then nothing about left handedness is common, lol

What a good story, my husband

What a good story, my husband and I are both left handed. So when you come to visit with us everything is setup for left handed people.

My grandpa was left handed

My grandpa was left handed and forced to switch to being right handed. He ended up with balance and inner ear problems. I learned how to do things by watching my great grandma and other elders as if I were watching through a mirror instead of side by side. It just seemed easier for me to learn that way. I am proud to be left handed as is my son.

I am left handed, but I only

I am left handed, but I only write n eat with left hand. Any sport activities I do I use my right hand. Everyone made fun of me being left handed but I that is was cool because I was different from everyone else