Are left handed people evil? In the past, people certainly seemed to think so. But worryingly, this is a question that people still ask to this day!
In this article you’ll learn why lefties were associated with Satan and witchcraft, how the Bible condemned us all to hell, why the left hand is considered unclean, and why lefties are still discriminated against around the world!
Table Of Contents
- Are Left Handed People Evil?
- Left Handedness And The Devil
- Left Handed Super Powers
- Left Handed Religious Beliefs
- Why Is The Left Hand Considered Unclean?
- Left Handed Bias In Language
- Is Being Left Handed STILL An Issue?
Are Left Handed People Evil?
Of course not! The false notion of left handed people being evil arose as a result of the prevalence of right handed people, in addition to various religious and cultural beliefs associating left handedness with negative connotations and traits.
Throughout history, being left handed has been associated with uncleanliness, bad luck, deviancy, mental deficiency, and even devil worshipping! In Albania, being left handed was at one point even considered as being an illegal act.
It seems that a majority of the world really did think the worst of us!
At the end of high school in the school yearbook, my classmates voted me as being the person “most likely to be secretly evil” – true story! It probably had nothing to do with my left handedness, but you know…maybe it did!
However you’ll be relieved to find that nowadays, being left handed is often seen as a sign of increased creativity, and in some cases, intelligence in many countries.
Let’s take a closer look at why this historic bias towards left-handedness arose in the first place however.
Left Handedness And The Devil
The Devil has been associated with the left side throughout history, with Lucifer himself being most often depicted as a lefty in historic imagery.
During the 17th century it was believed that Satan would baptise his followers with the left hand. And in France, it was thought that witches would greet the Devil with their left hand.
Indeed, throughout the Salem witch trials in the 17th century, being left handed was considered evidence of being a practitioner of the dark arts.
Witch hunters would also trial accused people through a public examination of their bodies. Evidence of being a witch would be something as simple as finding a mole or blemish on the left side of the body.
Black magic is also referred to as the “left hand path”, and is closely linked to devil worship.
Check out my other article for more left handed superstitions that are associated with evil.
Left Handed Super Powers
It should be noted that being left handed was not always negatively portrayed.
The Celts, who can be traced as far back as 750 BC, worshipped the left side. These ancient tribes associated the left with femininity and the source of life.
Similarly, the Incas believed that lefties possessed magic and healing abilities.
Left Handed Religious Beliefs
It is generally believed that the idea that left handed people are evil started to manifest itself as Christianity began to spread. Some devout followers came to believe that being left handed is a sin.
For example, the Gospel of Matthew says that on the Day of Judgment, God would send those on the right to Heaven and condemn those on the left to Hell.
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.Matthew 25:41
Another passage from the Bible about left-handedness…
The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of a fool to the leftEcclesiastes 10:2
In total the Bible makes 100 references about the right hand, all of them positive. Whereas only 25 references to the left hand are made, and no surprises, every single one is negative!
There was even a time where the Catholic Church declared that all left handed people were Devil worshippers! Lefties would be condemned, and occasionally executed during the times of the Spanish Inquisition.
Why Is The Left Hand Considered Unclean?
Similar negative associations are also present in other religions.
For example in certain beliefs (e.g. among Muslims), followers would use their right hand for eating, and their left for personal hygiene. Although this was sensibly done in the past for reasons of sanitation and cleanliness, the left hand came to become known as the ‘unclean hand’ through these practices.
This is also where the English term “cack-handed” (which is associated with left handedness) comes from. My English roommate in college regularly referred to me as being cack-handed, but I wasn’t aware that ‘cack’ was slang for excrement!
Check out the quick video below which explains why Arabs don’t use their left hand.
In 19th century Africa, the punishment for eating with the left hand was fairly severe. If a child ate with the wrong hand, Zulu tribes would place their arm in boiling water, scalding the hand so that the same mistake wouldn’t be repeated. Eeek!
Left Handed Bias In Language
The English word sinister (meaning evil) was introduced around the 14th century, and comes from the same Latin word, which is translated as “on the left hand side”. Today, the irrational fear of left handed people is known as Sinistrophobia.
Conversely, the Latin word for “on the right side” – dexter – has largely positive connotations. For example, the English word dextrous means to be good with the hands. Or an ambidextrous person is someone who is able to use both hands equally well.
In German the word for left is “linkisch”, which also means “awkward”.
The Italians say “mancino”, which can also mean “deceitful”.
The French word for left is “gauche”, which in English is translated as “unsophisticated” or “socially awkward”.
You can even head over to the Merriam Webster dictionary where you’ll find that synonyms for ‘left handed’ include, awkward, clumsy, graceless, and ham-handed.
Is Being Left Handed STILL An Issue?
Due to these negative associations with left-handedness, it is still common in certain countries even today that lefties are looked down upon.
Even as recently as the 20th century, certain psychologists would see being left handed as a sign of deviancy, which was necessary to be ‘fixed’ through behavioural treatments.
It was fairly common until even the late 20th century for children to be forced to write with their right hand. Some teachers would go so far as to tie a lefty pupil’s left hand behind their back so that it could not be used.
In Taiwan, a 2007 high school study found that almost 60% of the children examined had been forced to switch from writing left handed to right handed.
Similarly, in Japan, a 1983 study showed that only 0.7% of high school students examined used their left hand for writing. Up until the early 20th century, discovering that your partner was left handed was actually considered grounds for divorce in Japan!
Wondering which countries have the most (or least!) left handers? Check out my article – How Many People Are Left Handed?
One of my work colleagues who was born in England in the 1990s revealed to me that they were actually a natural left hander, but had been forced to write with their right hand. At the time I had no idea that these practices were still in place so close to home.
So this negative association with left-handedness is still very much alive today. But as you can see in the chart below, the stigma associated with left handedness has massively decreased over the past century.
You can clearly see that the prevalence of left handedness has increased as out-dated beliefs have been disproved or forgotten about. It will be interesting to see where this number settles eventually.
Are Lefties Evil?
So are left handed people evil? Well…no! But even if we aren’t being accused of worshipping the Devil, the little digs against lefties are still ever present.
For example, did you know that skateboarders who push with their right foot use regular stance. Whereas if you push with your left foot it is called goofy stance!?
A few years ago I collated some mean tweets aimed at left handed guitarists. Some of them are just pure vitriol!
In modern day society, being left handed is fairly meaningless. Left handed people are just…people. We’re not evil, we’re not clumsy, we’re not bad luck, we’re certainly not on a one way ticket straight to Hell. Although in a world largely designed for right handed people, it does at least sometimes make life a little more challenging.
At least we are no longer at the point where we’re burned alive at the stake. Phew!
We’ve even got our own day now – International Left Handers Day!
Left Handed Or Right Handed Test
Did you know that no one is 100% left handed or right handed? We’re all a mix of both! Find out exactly how left or right handed you are by taking our 60 Second Left Handed Test.