Left-Hander's Day

by Ragtimelil

Did you know August 13 is Left-Hander's Day? In honor of all my southpaw friends, I've collected some gifts and tales about lefties.

Some sources say around 30 million people in the United States are left handed. In 1992, August 13 became “Left-Hander’s Day” to celebrate and to raise awareness of the frustrations of left handers living in a right handed world. I have many friends who are left handed and I never really gave it too much thought. I've learned a little about the frustrations of the left handed world.

It's not all bad news, however. St. Lawrence University in New York conducted tests and discovered that there were more left-handed people with IQs over 140 than right-handed people. Some well-known left-handers include Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Franklin.

Four Types of Handedness

There are four general categories of handedness.

  • Right handed is the most common. Surveys have suggested that 70 to 90% of people world-wide are right handed.
  • Left handedness is less common with about 10% being reported as left handed.
  • Mixed-handedness, or cross-dominance is doing different tasks with different hands. For instance, I do most things right handed, but I've been known to do some sports with my left hand. Although I fit into the mixed handedness category, most people would say I'm right handed.
  • Ambidexterity is doing a task equally well with either hand. It is extremely rare, some say 1%, but it can be learned.

Are you....

Knives and Scissors

I always knew that scissors were right and left handed. I had tried to use a friend's left handed scissors and got a taste of what if feels like when they don't work.

I didn't understand why knives would be different. After all, the handle is the same on both sides, right? I learned that it has to do with the way the blade is sharpened. If bread is cut with the blade on the wrong side, the pressure causes more crumbs to fall.

Dogs, Cats and Mice

According to "The Left-Hander Syndrome by Stanley Coren, cats, mice and rats show an equal split between right and left pawedness.

It is commonly believed by trainers and handlers that dogs also will have a preference for one side. Sheepdogs often prefer to circle the sheep in one direction over the other and must be trained to take both directions comfortably. It is also a widespread belief that when a dog retrieves a dumbbell, the direction he most commonly turns to return to the handler, is a sign of the dog’s side preference.

Knitting and Music

A friend of mine, who happened to be left handed, asked me to teach her to knit. I did some research and found that most sources did not recommend knitters to learn a left handed technique unless absolutely necessary. A small number of people reported actually becoming dizzy or experiencing vertigo when trying to knit right handed. Fortunately, most people can easily learn to knit from right handed knitters. It is a skill that involves both hands equally. If someone learned to knit left handed, most knitting patterns would have to be altered. There are very few patterns written with the left-handed knitter in mind. My friend had no trouble learning to knit the same way I do and avoided any difficulties with patterns.


Musicians sometimes do have difficulty with a right handed instrument. Some guitar players restring the guitar reversing the order. Some guitar players actually just turn the instrument around and learned to play by making the chords in reverse. It does create a unique sound. The well-known folk singer and writer, Bill Staines, has this style of playing. Today you can buy a left handed instrument.


Many languages use the word "right" to mean the direction as well as "correct" or "proper." Left-handedness was considered unlucky or even evil. The Latin word for left was sinistra, which also meant unlucky. It's where we get the word "sinister."

In Inca society, left-handed people were called lig'e which was a positive term. They believed that left handed people possessed magical and healing abilities.


Updated: 09/08/2012, Ragtimelil
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Ragtimelil on 08/05/2012

Of course!

dustytoes on 08/05/2012

My sister is left handed and I made a mug at Zazzle for her (a left-handed mug of course!)

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