Left handers unite! Take pride in knowing that you are among a select group of left handed people that includes famous artists, scientists, musicians, presidents, authors and sports figures—a group that consists of only 10% or less of the population.
Many myths and lore exist in popular culture about the left hand. Here are ten common questions about being left handed—with answers that may surprise you.
10 Things You Need to Know About Being Left Handed
Left handers live in a world built for righties. Nothing seems to be made or built with the lefty in mind. Why have they been overlooked? How does a person become left handed? Who are some of the most famous left-handed people? Here are answers to some of the most common questions about left handedness.
What causes a person to be left handed?
Hand preference can be influenced by a person’s genes, which includes a genetic bias towards right handedness. Scientists have found left handedness has more of a chance to take over when the genetic right-hand bias is weak.
Studies have shown that pregnant women over 40 years old are more likely to have a left-handed baby. Left handedness is also twice as common in twins.
Is left handedness rare?
Yes, only 10% or less of the population is left handed. The preponderance of right handedness (90%) aligns with other right-side, biologically-dominant traits, including hearing (60% right-eared), vision (70% right-eyed) and foot dominance (80% right-footed).
What do you call a left handed person?
Throughout history, the words “left” and “left handed” have held negative connotations. The Latin word “sinistra” literally means “left” but it is also synonymous with “evil” or “unlucky.” (Interestingly, the Latin word for “right” has a positive connotation: “dexter,” as in “dextrous.”)
The English word “left” derives from the Anglo-Saxon word “lyft,” meaning “broken” or “weak.” Similarly, we may call something “gauche” if it is lacking in grace or socially awkward. The word originates from the French language meaning “left.”
Did You Know?
August 13 is International Lefthanders Day, an annual celebration of the uniqueness of being left-handed in a right-handed world.
What are some common phrases and sayings about left handers?
Some colloquial phrases and sayings have origins that date back to biblical times. In the case of left-handed sayings, the evidence shows that lefties have not always been looked upon favorably. Here are nine popular phrases that cast a not-so-positive shadow on lefties:
- Two left feet
- Out of left field
- Left overs
- Left in the lurch
- A left-handed compliment
- At the right hand of God
- The unclean hand
- The left-hand path (black magic)
- Righty tighty, lefty loosey
Do left handers have a higher IQ?
A case can be made for higher intelligence among left handers. For example, lefties make up a larger-than-average portion of certain highly-intellegent groups: 20% of Mensa members and almost 18% of American presidents.
Some positive traits commonly attributed to left handers are high IQ, creativity, multitasking ability, problem solving, memory retention and above average verbal skills.
The concept that lefties are predominantly right-brained is a myth. Most left-handed individuals are in-fact left brained, in line with the general population. However their brains may show higher aptitude in typical right-brained abilities like math and achitecture.
Are left handers less healthy?
Left handers have been looked down upon historically and even forced to become right handed by parents and teachers. A popular convention held that left-handed people are evil, the sign of the devil. Lefties have been labeled as neurotic; their behavior rebellious and criminal, and some accused of homosexuality. Just more left-handed myths.
There is some evidence that suggests lefties are more susceptible to allergies, asthma and insomnia. A 2013 Yale University study of mental health patients showed a larger-than-average number of left handers. 40% of patients with schizoaffective disorders reported left-hand dominance. Similar studies suggest a link between left handedness and dyslexia, ADHD and certain mood disorders.
Are left handers better at sports?
Yes, it seems lefties have an edge when it comes to individual-player sports like tennis and boxing. They are also noted to excel in swimming and baseball, especially as a pitcher.
The Simpsons “Lefties”
Left-handed creator of “The Simpsons” Mat Groening made two of his lead characters left handed: Bart Simpson and his goofy next-door-neighbor Ned Flanders. In the Season 3 episode “When Flanders Failed,” Ned opens a lefty-themed store—the “Leftorium”—in the local mall. The business fails, for there just aren’t enough left handed customers in Springfield.
Which Presidents were left handed?
Eight of the United States’ 45 presidents were left handed. That’s almost 18%, or double the number of lefties found in the general population.
Interestingly, there were no left-handed American presidents until James Garfield in 1881. After Garfield, seven lefties would become president, including three in a row beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1981.
- James Garfield, 20th
- Herbert Hoover, 31st
- Harry Truman, 33rd
- Gerald Ford, 38th
- Ronald Reagan, 40th
- George H.W. Bush, 41st
- Bill Clinton, 42nd
- Barack Obama, 44th
Who are the most famous lefties?
You may be surprised to learn that all these famous people are left handed. Here are some of the most recognizable lefties, arranged by categories:
- Political Leaders
- Business Leaders
- Entertainers & Comedians
- Sports Figures
- Artists, Scientists & Philosophers
1. Famous Left-Handed Political Leaders
- Benjamin Franklin
- Julius Caesar
- Winston Churchill
- Napoleon Bonaparte
- Prince William
- Prince Charles
- Steve Forbes
- Alexander the Great
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- John McCain
- Anthony Kennedy
2. Famous Left-Handed Business Leaders
- Steve Jobs
- Bill Gates
- Mark Zuckerberg
- David Rockefeller
- Henry Ford
3. Famous Left-Handed Musicians
- Jimi Hendrix
- Robert Plant
- Paul Simon
- Paul McCartney
- Kurt Cobain
- Isaac Hayes
- Lady Gaga
- George Michael
- The Everly Brothers, Dick & Don
- Cole Porter
- Tiny Tim
- Justin Bieber
4. Famous Left-Handed Entertainers & Comedians
- David Letterman
- Jerry Seinfeld
- Tina Fey
- Jay Leno
- Marcel Marceau
- Jon Stewart
- Oprah Winfrey
- Gordon Ramsey
- Don Rickles
- Will Ferrell
- Whoopie Goldberg
- Dan Aykroyd
- George Burns
- Richard Pryor
- Charlie Chaplin
- Jim Henson
- Harpo Marx
- Carol Burnett
- W.C. Fields
- Howie Mandel
5. Famous Left-Handed Actors
- Robert DeNiro
- Julia Roberts
- Peter Lawford
- Christian Slater
- Dick Van Dyke
- Richard Dreyfuss
- Peter Fonda
- Greta Garbo
- Sarah Jessica Parker
- Cloris Leachman
- Shirley MacLaine
- Angelina Jolie
- Jennifer Lawrence
- Bruce Willis
- Robert Redford
- Keith Carradine
- Tom Cruise
- Mickey Rourke
- Telly Savalas
- Matthew Broderick
- Lisa Kudrow
- Michael Landon
- Caitlyn Jenner
- Kristy McNichol
- Nicole Kidman
- Jason Alexander
- Betty Grable
- Cary Grant
- Rock Hudson
- Judy Garland
- Keanu Reeves
- Mary-Kate Olsen
- Steve McQueen
- Marilyn Monroe
- Ryan O’Neal
6. Famous Left-Handed Sports Figures
- Babe Ruth
- Sandy Koufax
- LeBron James
- Bill Russell
- Larry Bird
- Gayle Sayers
- Barry Bonds
- Ty Cobb
- Ken Griffey, Jr.
- Wayne Gretzky
- Phil Mickelson
- Lou Gehrig
- Phil Esposito
- Tony Gwynn
- Marina Navratilova
- Oscar de la Hoya
- Jimmy Connors
- Rafael Nadal
- Steve Carlton
- John McEnroe
- Stan Musial
- Whitey Ford
7. Famous Left-Handed Artists, Scientists & Philosophers
- Albert Einstein
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Marie Curie
- Albrecht Dürer
- Friedrich Nietzche
- Charles Darwin
- M.C. Escher
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Isaac Newton
- Joan of Arc
- Buzz Aldrin
- Paul Klee
- Helen Keller
8. Infamous Left-Handed Criminals
- Osama Bin Laden
- John Dillinger
- The Boston Strangler
- Billy the Kid
- Jack the Ripper
- John Wesley Hardin
What words are typed with only the left hand?
Try this: these words can be typed with only the left hand (from the left hand position on a QWERTY keyboard):
Great left-handed quotes:
If the left half of the brain controls the right half of the body then only left handed people are in the right mind. – W.C. Fields
Nothing is so ignorant as a man’s left hand, except a lady’s watch. – Mark Twain
Well, it’s always been my nature to take chances My right hand drawing back while my left hand advances. – Bob Dylan
In mythology and palmistry, the left hand is called the dreamer because the ring finger on the left hand leads directly to the heart. I find it a very poetic idea. And thats why I only wear nail polish on my left ring finger. – Gloria Vanderbilt
Lefties – in great demand but limited supply! – Anonymous
God made everyone right-handed, the truly gifted overcome it. – Anonymous
If the left side of your brain controls the right side of your body, and the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body, then left-handed people must be the only ones in their right minds. – Anonymous
I’m used to being in the minority. I’m a left-handed gay Jew. I’ve never felt, automatically, a member of any majority. – Barney Frank
I was a left-handed dentist who made people cry. – Casey Stengel
Life without left-handed people wouldn’t be right. – C.R. Manske
Whatever the right hand findeth to do, the left hand carries a watch on its wrist to show how long it takes to do it. – Ralph Washington Sockman
I always pet a dog with my left hand because if he bit me I’d still have my right hand to paint with. – Juan Gris
Reason is our soul’s left hand, Faith her right, By these we reach divinity. – John Donne
We are made out of stardust. The iron in the hemoglobin molecules in the blood in your right hand came from a star that blew up 8 billion years ago. The iron in your left hand came from another star. We are the laws of chemistry and physics as they have played out here on Earth and we are now learning that planets are as common as stars. Most stars, as it turns out now, will have planets. – Jill Tarter
When nothing goes right… go left. – Anonymous
Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: you are all stardust. – Lawrence M. Krauss
The only way for a relationship to survive, I think, is to have no sex at all. After all, you marry for friendship, for companionship – and passion after a while … pfffft. I mean, does it excite you when your left hand touches your right? – Diane von Furstenberg
The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it. – Margaret Atwood
I feel that I am a scholar who only with the left hand writes novels. – Umberto Eco
There’s a Mr. Hyde for every happy Jekyll face, a dark face on the other side of the mirror. The brain behind that face never heard of razors, prayers, or the logic of the universe. You turn the mirror sideways and see your face reflected with a sinister left-hand twist, half mad and half sane. – Stephen King
Science and democracy are the right and left hands of what I’ll refer to as the move from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom. – Karl Marx
Accustom yourself to master and overcome things of difficulty; for if you observe, the left hand for want of practice is insignificant, and not adapted to general business; yet it holds the bridle better than the right, from constant use. – Pliny the Elder
On the left hand path we take the direct route, which is much more strenuous, much more dangerous, and much more likely to cause you to fall. – Zeena Schreck
This manner of writing wherein knowing myself inferior to myself? I have the use, as I may account it, but of my left hand. – John Milton
Is he alone who has courage on his right hand and faith on his left hand? – Charles Lindbergh
The light is the left hand of darkness. – Ursula K. Le Guin
I may be left handed, but I am always right. – Anonymous
A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left. – Ecclesiastes 10:2
Everybody is born left handed. You become right handed after your first sin. – Anonymous
I’m left-handed: I can think and feel at the same time. My feminine side is very highly developed. – Laurence Fishburne
Let not the right side of your brain know what the left side doeth. – George Bernard Shaw
All the decisive blows are struck left-handed. – Walter Benjamin
After all, crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavor. – John Huston
Left-handers are wired into the artistic half of the brain, which makes them imaginative, creative, surprising, ambiguous, exasperating, stubborn, emotional, witty, obsessive, infuriating, delightful, original, but never, never, dull. – James T deKay
To be hated cordially, is only a left-handed compliment. – Herman Melville
Left handers don’t just write differently, we also think differently. – Anonymous
My left hand is my thinking hand (image), my right hand my doing hand (sequence). – Barbara Hepworth
It wasn’t for nothing that the raven was just now croaking on my left hand. – Plautus
As for conforming outwardly, and living your own life inwardly, I do not think much of that. Let not your right hand know what your left hand does in that line of business. It will prove a failure…. It is a greater strain than any soul can long endure. When you get God to pulling one way, and the devil the other, each having his feet well braced,–to say nothing of the conscience sawing transversely,–almost any timber will give way. – Henry David Thoreau
On the left-hand side of the field equation we may add the fundamental tensor guv, multiplied by a universal constant, -λ, at present unknown, without destroying the general covariance. – Albert Einstein
Prosperity’s right hand is industry and her left hand is frugality. – Samuel Johnson
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