Left-Handed Facts and Folklore

Celebrate International Left-Handers Day on August 13!

August 12, 2021
Left-Handed Facts and Folklore

International Left-Handers Day is 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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

Source: 

The Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids, Volume 2

Reader Comments

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left-handedness

I started out life left handed. My Grandmother made me switch because she believed it was evil. I remember turning in a paper at school that I wrote half with my left and half with my right. I had forgotten to write it right handed. The teacher asked me about it and I told her about what my Grandmother said. She told me she liked the left handed writing better. Later in life I injured the tendons in my right hand. I had a cast on that hand for 2mon, and then physical therapy to rehabilitate it. I had to do everything with my left hand. I found that I picked it up quickly and my brain processed better. Today I am mostly right handed but switch now and then. I was having a hard time threading a needle while sewing this afternoon. Couldn't seem to get the needle threaded, so I switched to my left hand and nailed it the first time. I threaded that needle 3 times in a row on the first try. I use both hands but my left hand feels more natural to me.

99% left handed

My father, younger brother and I have curly hair and are left handed, my mother, older sister and brother have straight hair and are right handed. The only thing I do right handed is navigate with a computer mouse and cannot master that activity left handed! I do not cock my hand around when writing, my hand position is the same as a right handed.

left handedness

I was always right handed but 5 years or so I developed a tremor in my right hand and cannot write with it or do much else with it as it shakes so bad. I have now learned to do most things with my left hand - including writing. (I'm 80 yrs. old now)

Lefties

I still have marks on my left hand from a Nun when I was 5 years old I am now 75. My Mom finally put me in public school. I won a handwriting contest in 4th grade…

99% Lefty

I do everything left handed except deal cards. My mother said When I was learning to use a spoon she would put it in my right hand and I would drop it. After several attempts she decided I was left handed. One of my uncles was a lefty but the schools made him change by rapping his knuckles with a ruler. When I started kindergarten my mother told the teachers not to try to change me. Thanks Mom.

Left & right hand

One of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed was a police officer I waited on for breakfast signed his name with both his left hand and right hand AT THE SAME TIME!! Never to this day have I ever seen anyone else able to do this! I have also noticed that a majority of people on TV, celebs, presidents, TV personalities are left handed. I am not, I am just observant :)

Left handed

My mother was in the age of having been forced to be converted to right handed penmanship.Her side of the family is where my color blindness also came from.I have come up with an idea as to why so few people are left handed. Orighinally God made everyone left handed. Then when you sined him made you right handed. Those of us who are still left handed just haven't been caught yet!!!

Left handed

My mother was in the age of having been forced to be converted to right handed penmanship.Her side of the family is where my color blindness also came from.I have come up with an idea as to why so few people are left handed. Orighinally God made everyone left handed. Then when you sined him made you right handed. Those of us who are still left handed just haven't been caught yet!!!

lefthandedness

Forgot to mention - I am doing my family genealogy and believe it or not, I've found the ancestor who passed on the left handedness to all of us. Thanks Great, great, great Grandad!

Left-handedness

Like Steve, my brother and I were forced to use our right hand since kindergarten. I love the smell of scotch tape to this day, as the teacher used to wrap my left fingers all together with scotch tape so I couldn't use them. When that didn't work she tied my hand behind me. I'm no good at math and I think it's because they forced me to change from right brained to left brained. My brother is the same way. He nearly failed every grade because he too was forced to change which side of the brain he used - righties use the left side of the brain while lefties use the right side. Changing hands to do things really screws with your little gray cells! I too am fairly ambidextrous.

Being Right-Handed

I am right-handed although I can do a lot of things left-handed as well as right-handed. About 5 years ago I had to have a total joint replacement of my right shoulder (in hospital 24 hours and then home) I quickly learned it is very difficult to wipe off (your behind) with your left hand if you're right-handed.

Right...Most of the time

I'm a right hander...the only thing I do left handed is bat a ball. Why??? Don't know, just fells right! No pun intended! I have made quiet a few pitchers hit the dirt though. Unintentionally of course! : )

left hand

I am predominately left handed but crochet, knit, golf, shoot, and use scissors right handed- Mom taught me that way- saying it would be a lot easier to follow patterns- and back them. we had never heard of left hand scissors back then. I cross stitch with both hands. It was harder to learn- but glad she did that. My adult son uses both hands interchangeably for everything even eating. My daughter is left handed but also does many things right handed.

Left handed people

Kathryn again,
I forgot to say that if you dance the man’s part in Round Dancing, the lead leg you begin with is always your left leg. I’m a woman, but I find the man’s part is easier

Left handed people

Kathryn again,
I forgot to say that if you dance the man’s part in Round Dancing, the lead leg you begin with is always your left leg. I’m a woman, but I find the man’s part is easier

Left-handedness

I’m left-handed. But I bat a ball and wear my watch right-handed. When I was in school my Grandma told me to do the opposite of what the teacher said about handwriting. I still have very neat handwriting. Also in school they always put the left-handed desks in the back of the classroom, so I would have to drag it to the front every day.

Left-handed Day

I am right handed. I seem to only be able to brush my teeth with my left hand! I also Round Dance. Round Dancing is choreographed ballroom dancing. I am a woman, but I find that the man’s part is easier than the woman’s. When someone cues a round dance they cue to the men, the women have to listen and reverse all the cues that the men do, so they don’t crash into the man.

Left Handed

I am one of those lefties forced to be a righty when I was in Kindergarten. Growing up, I learned to do some things as an ambidextrous person. Comes in handy at times and fools people (which is fun to do).

Left handed

Left handed like my father, learned to play stringed instruments right handed( violin, guitar, mandolin, bass) and golf early on (used older brothers clubs) then when I got my own clubs switched to playing left handed

On being left handed

My third grade teacher asked my mother to visit Palmer Publishing in New York so that I would learn proper cursive penmanship. All it involved was angling the paper opposite of the righties. It was so simple and I still have good penmanship at 80 years of age.

Primarily Write Left Handed

I write left handed, but most other things I do right handed or with both hands. I'm also left footed.
When in grade school, I didn't like smearing the chalk on the chalkboard when called to the board, so I learned to write on there with my right hand. Now, in my work when I facilitate meetings, I use both hands to write on the white board, utilizing different color markers. My co-workers and project teams find it amusing.

Primarily Write Left Handed

I write left handed, but most other things I do right handed or with both hands. I'm also left footed.
When in grade school, I didn't like smearing the chalk on the chalkboard when called to the board, so I learned to write on there with my right hand. Now, in my work when I facilitate meetings, I use both hands to write on the white board, utilizing different color markers. My co-workers and project teams find it amusing.

Primarily Write Left Handed

I write left handed, but most other things I do right handed or with both hands. I'm also left footed.
When in grade school, I didn't like smearing the chalk on the chalkboard when called to the board, so I learned to write on there with my right hand. Now, in my work when I facilitate meetings, I use both hands to write on the white board, utilizing different color markers. My co-workers and project teams find it amusing.

Primarily Write Left Handed

I write left handed, but most other things I do right handed or with both hands. I'm also left footed.
When in grade school, I didn't like smearing the chalk on the chalkboard when called to the board, so I learned to write on there with my right hand. Now, in my work when I facilitate meetings, I use both hands to write on the white board, utilizing different color markers. My co-workers and project teams find it amusing.

Primarily Write Left Handed

I write left handed, but most other things I do right handed or with both hands. I'm also left footed.
When in grade school, I didn't like smearing the chalk on the chalkboard when called to the board, so I learned to write on there with my right hand. Now, in my work when I facilitate meetings, I use both hands to write on the white board, utilizing different color markers. My co-workers and project teams find it amusing.

Primarily Write Left Handed

I write left handed, but most other things I do right handed or with both hands. I'm also left footed.
When in grade school, I didn't like smearing the chalk on the chalkboard when called to the board, so I learned to write on there with my right hand. Now, in my work when I facilitate meetings, I use both hands to write on the white board, utilizing different color markers. My co-workers and project teams find it amusing.

Primarily Write Left Handed

I write left handed, but most other things I do right handed or with both hands. I'm also left footed.
When in grade school, I didn't like smearing the chalk on the chalkboard when called to the board, so I learned to write on there with my right hand. Now, in my work when I facilitate meetings, I use both hands to write on the white board, utilizing different color markers. My co-workers and project teams find it amusing.

Primarily Write Left Handed

I write left handed, but most other things I do right handed or with both hands. I'm also left footed.
When in grade school, I didn't like smearing the chalk on the chalkboard when called to the board, so I learned to write on there with my right hand. Now, in my work when I facilitate meetings, I use both hands to write on the white board, utilizing different color markers. My co-workers and project teams find it amusing.

Primarily Write Left Handed

I write left handed, but most other things I do right handed or with both hands. I'm also left footed.
When in grade school, I didn't like smearing the chalk on the chalkboard when called to the board, so I learned to write on there with my right hand. Now, in my work when I facilitate meetings, I use both hands to write on the white board, utilizing different color markers. My co-workers and project teams find it amusing.

Primarily Write Left Handed

I write left handed, but most other things I do right handed or with both hands. I'm also left footed.
When in grade school, I didn't like smearing the chalk on the chalkboard when called to the board, so I learned to write on there with my right hand. Now, in my work when I facilitate meetings, I use both hands to write on the white board, utilizing different color markers. My co-workers and project teams find it amusing.

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