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 also only eat and write

I also only eat and write with my left hand. I think I play sports right handed because the people who taught me how to play were right handed. I like being ambidextrous because a true lefty has to use special scissors or kitchen tools, etc.

I am a leftie. And we are all

I am a leftie. And we are all special. I was even born backwards. Feet first. I am the only one in my family that is left handed. Things can be a challenge. God bless those special persons that make our world beautiful.

When I was starting in

When I was starting in school, they were totally against a person being left handed. Every time I put a pencil in my left hand, it would be smacked away by the teacher, or jerked out of my hand and placed in my right hand. I was young so this really scared me and made me think something was bad wrong with me. I told my Dad, he went to the school, never happened again. Moral of the story, depends on what I am doing on which hand I do what with. Never understood why they didn't want me left handed.

I am a left hander and proud

I am a left hander and proud of it. I remember my Mom thinking she may have caused it with my brother and I because she was left handed but, my younger sister and brother are right handed. I wanted one of my daughter's to be left handed but each time I would hand them a spoon or fork or what ever into there left hand they would switch it to there right hand....So I know my Mother didn't cause us to be left handed. I see no problem really being left handed these days. After 57 years I think I have aclimated to the right handed world!! LOL!

I'm a lefty but other then

I'm a lefty but other then writing I use my right hand for pretty much everything else!!!!!

Two of my three children are

Two of my three children are left-handed. The other is very right-handed just like me. Although, because I'm so right-handed, I taught the lefties to use either hand. My daughter does almost everything but eat and write, right-handed. My son uses his right hand for certain things. Their daddy was one of those who was changed from leftie to righty.

I'm a leftie! Ever heard the

I'm a leftie! Ever heard the expression, "Only left-handed people are in their right mind!"