“Sinister” is Latin for “left,” as in left-handed. Someone who is right-handed would be referred to as “dexterous” or “deft.” Obviously being different acquired the stigma of being evil or threatening. It’s not much better in French, where a leftie would be called “gauche,” which also means awkward or lacking in social graces. The same negative bias exists in a dozen or so other languages.
After surgery on my right shoulder tomorrow I will be going gauche for the next several weeks; joining the 10% or so of the population that was born that way. And despite the connotations, I’ll be in good company.
Four of our last five presidents have been left-handed (2 Republicans and 2 Democrats, so “handedness” isn’t an indicator of political leaning):
- Ronald Reagan
- George H. W. Bush
- Bill Clinton
- Barack Obama
Other sinister world leaders included:
- Alexander the Great
- Julius Caesar
- Napoleon Bonaparte
- Queen Victoria
- Benjamin Franklin
(Find out if your favorite author, athlete or actor is left-handed at Famous Left-Handers.)
And when it comes to money,
In 2006, researchers at Lafayette College and Johns Hopkins University in a study found that right-handed men are 15 percent poorer than left-handed men for those who attended college, and 26 percent poorer if they graduated. The wage difference remains unexplained, and appears to apply to women.
Let’s hope my income goes up over the next few months.